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Mar 11, 2010 07:22 AM

Best Bakery -- not refined, not French, just good donuts

I've been on the lookout for years for the best bakeries, which are on the decline as more people buy their donuts from grocery stores and gas stations. And to be specific, I'm not looking for a French bakery or something frou frou (no Rustica, Salty Tart, and so on), but a good solid bakery with cake donuts, maple fried, long johns, and the like.

My favorite is Emily's Bakery in Hastings, but Hastings is too far away just for a donut run. Their donuts are pitch perfect and they have some treats that no one else seems to have, like Holland Cream Sticks (oh yum!). They also have my grandma's favorite: peanut cakes (white cake with a light frosting coated in chopped peanuts).

I've been to P.J. Murphy's and can't recommend it. Their chunky frostings put me off. Their selection seems small too and their donuts mediocre in general.

Where else should I be sure to go? Trips to the Shakopee Bakery and New Prague's bakery (not sure of its name) are in my near future, but what about in the nearer metro area?

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  1. Gotta go to Mel-o-glaze for donuts. On the Corner of Minnehaha Parkway and 28th Ave S. The place has some of the best old school donuts I've ever had. They have some other offererings, but I'd stay away from them, bring your own coffee, and stick with the donuts.

    I would also highly recommend A Baker's Wife, which is right up 28th Ave at 42nd St. A much more diverse selection of breads and pastries, possibly too "frou frou" for the intent of this posting, but still worth a look.

    3 Replies
    1. re: keithinmpls

      I will second the Mel-O-Glaze recommendation - I'm lucky enough to have it in my neighborhood!

      1. re: keithinmpls

        this exactly.

        Mel-o-glaze for raised, Baker's Wife for cake.

        1. re: keithinmpls

          I've stopped in at Mel-O-Glaze before and was sorely disappointed by their variety. All they seemed to have was cake donuts. Maybe it was the time of day?

          I know they've been around forever, though; do they still make the "mega-mel-o" (or however that's spelled?

        2. ha! When I read the title of your post I immediately thought of Emily's... buy yeah, too far for a donut run. In the summer we like to go to a (organic) farm to pick our own berries just past Hastings and we *always* have to stop at Emily's to get donuts.

          I have no advice, sadly. But will look forward to trying some of the suggestions in this thread. We love us some donuts in our house (although we have a split family- my husband likes cake and I like glazed ones. Our daughter does not discriminate).

          4 Replies
          1. re: turtlebella

            I totally agree with "keithinmpls". Mel-o-Glaze has the best raised, glazed donuts around. Their apple fritters are good, but because they are the size of Volkswagen hubcabs, can be a bit much.

            A Baker's Wife has wonderful cake donuts. You can get them either plain or with sugar/cinnamon. If you get them straight out of the oven you will think you have died and gone to heaven. They make a good baguette also. YUM.

            1. re: leeniebeanie

              OMG-I need a plain cake donut! My DH thinks I'm crazy for not liking sprinkles etc.

              1. re: leeniebeanie

                I've never heard of a cake donut that was baked. is that unique to A Baker's Wife?

            2. Sounds like you're in the south metro. Have you tried Farmington Bakery or Puffy Cream in Eagan? If not, give them a try.

              Also, and people will have a hard time believing this, Kowalski's in Eagan -- the earlier the better. Their caramel rolls are flat out spectacular in the morning when they're still warm. I know it's not a bakery per se, but if it's really just about the food, it's worth a stop. They have good donuts as well, but oh the caramel rolls....

              7 Replies
              1. re: MSPD

                Puffy Cream, Puffy Cream, and did I mention Puffy Cream? :) We had a big dispute at work a few years back. One colleague who lives close to Mel-O-Glaze disputed that Puffy Cream was better so we had a taste off. And while Mel-O-Glaze was good for the raised donuts, Puffy Cream prevailed overall. I'd suggest getting there early for the best selection.

                1. re: MSPD

                  I saw mention of Puffy Cream in a separate post. I'll certainly give them a try when I'm in the vicinity. Same goes for Farmington. Is Farmington really good? Or just okay?

                  1. re: Gretchen P

                    Farmington Bakery isn't as good as many of the places mentioned here, but if you live nearby, it's the best thing between there and way up into Eagan. Again, earlier the better.

                    1. re: MSPD

                      Anybody know the hours of Puffy Cream and, specifically, if they're open on Sundays? A trip is in my future . . .but only if they're open tomorrow.

                      1. re: Gretchen P

                        I'm fairly certain they're open on Sunday (since I know churches get donuts from them on Sundays), but I'm not certain of the hours. Regular weekday hours are 6am - 2pm, I believe.

                        1. re: Seige

                          Aha! I called this morning and learned they are open seven days a week from 5 to noon! Wish they set up voicemail for their closed hours . . .

                  2. re: MSPD

                    A report on Puffy Cream: My maple had glossy frosting and a light texture, though I usually prefer a crispier exterior. I noticed that some of their donuts run BIG, especially the long-john types. Apple fritters were also big and unusually flat, though I didn't try one.

                    Service was very friendly. At 11ish on a Sunday, the place was empty.

                    Puffy Cream seems to meet the standard of a good donut.

                    I'm coming to realize the role that nostalgia plays in donut appraisal . . .

                  3. Granny Donuts on Robert St in West St Paul. 33 years ago my first job was at a Winchell's Donut Shoppe in New Hope. Granny Donuts seems to be a reincarnation of an old Winchell's. I may just be nostalgic, but the stuff really tastes good to me.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: HuaGung

                      Wuollet's too fancy? Too French? Not sure about the donuts, but i've had some good pastries from there in the past...

                      1. re: KC612

                        Unfortunately, the donuts from Wuollet's are nothing too special in my experience.

                        1. re: Quince

                          Agreed. Nothing (2 donuts, 1 nutbar thing, and brownie) I've had from Wuollet's has been anything to write home about.

                          I've been to Granny's and they are the best I've had since this place I went to as a kid in Crystal.

                          1. re: NugarifiK

                            Ditto on Granny's, and I'm not even a donut person, but will always partake if someone brings them in.

                            1. re: latte4me

                              Stickler alert: It's "Granny Donuts".

                              And they make one of the best apple fritters in MSP. Right up there with Delicious Donuts on Douglas Drive in Golden Valley.

                              1. re: MSPD

                                We stopped by Granny Donuts early this afternoon (who said doughnuts were just for breakfast?!). It has a great vintage donut shop vibe, particularly in the seating- classic. I got three raised donuts, my husband got three cake donuts and then the owner gave us a couple of other (glazed) ones to eat right away (not 100% sure if/what we were charged for these...). I wanted to get a french twist but there were all out-- those were my favorites when I was a kid. Anyway, speaking for myself, the raised donuts were quite yummy- fluffly and chewy at the same time. The owner is a total character too. Extra bonus.

                                1. re: turtlebella

                                  If you can handle the sugar and calorie hit, their apple fritters are phenomenal, as MSPD mentioned. And, ditto the love for their raised donuts. I love 'em, even though I shouldn't.

                                  1. re: turtlebella

                                    turtlebella, the folks running Granny are notoriously kind. They almost always toss a couple extra donuts in your bag. At least that's been my experience and what I've heard from others on here and abroad.

                                    1. re: MSPD

                                      Read this the other day and as a direct result, my butt has now been reinforced with one of those huge, moist, fruit packed, greasy (but in a good way), apple fritters from Granny's. It thanks you.

                          2. re: KC612

                            Wuollet's is too . . .bad. Really unremarkable donuts/pastries. I also remember trying Russian teacakes there around the holidays. Don't.

                          3. re: HuaGung

                            oooh, I grew up on Winchell's (in California) and so I have that kind of nostalgia too...

                          4. Dara did a donut thing a few years back and one that she highly recommended was Denny's 5th Ave. Bakery which is over by Sam's Club on American blvd just west of Nicollet. Went there a few weeks ago and really liked the 'standards', however, my mother who was visiting liked Mel-o-glaze's regular glazed better. Plus free coffee (nothing special) with purchase....

                            They are not open Sunday FYI.

                            17 Replies
                            1. re: MayrMN

                              Dara also recommended the donuts from this place place on Snelling in St. Paul just across the street from St. Clair Broiler (Rosemark Bakery or something like that?) that served flat-out the worst donut I've ever tasted. My husband wouldn't even finish the donuts I brought home, and this is a man who doesn't throw out food, especially not deep-fried food. It made me distrust her donut-meter.

                              I'm glad to hear that Denny's 5th Ave is better, though!


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I went to a bakery in NE Minneapolis that advertised winning a best donut award in the Citypages...and it was horrible as well. Any Holiday gas station, alas, does a better job.

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  I tried Rosemark once and it was closed but I'm in that vicinity, so I'll have to try it again.

                                  I remember that specific recommendation from her in that article about her kid and donuts and the donut book.

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      Ditto - the place is not worth any type of stop at all.

                                      1. re: St Paul Susie

                                        I stopped. I walked in. I walked out.

                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I disagree. Yes, their building could use some work but don't let it taint your review.
                                    Rosemark has one of the best raised glazed donuts I've ever had; so light, with a lemony vanilla glaze.
                                    Unlike so many that are too firm-- like eating a fried hamburger bun with a hole in the middle and some sugar on top. Way better than krispy kreme.

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      My dad owned the dry cleaners that was next to Rosemark Bakery (it has now been replaced by another cleaners). Rosemark was not good, but before it was Baldingers, and they were great.

                                      1. re: sheepy

                                        Sheepy, I wish Baldingers were still there because, as you say, Rosemark is not good. (and Plymatt, my assessment was not in any way based on the was based entirely on the inedible food. Even my husband --who can eat pretty much anything if he puts his mind to it-- threw his out.) Granted, we only gave it one shot, but with a flat-out awful experience like that, why give it another?

                                        Sad, that would be a great location for a donut shop. Snelling's always on your way somewhere, so it would be easy to pop in.


                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                          Rosemark is sort of weird place. So weird that I did some digging up of information on the place a while ago. Most of their business is wholesale and their main product is bread. I know they supply Acme Deli for bread (which is just around the corner from Rosemark on the same block). I believe I read somewhere they supply bread to many Twin City restaurants. Perhaps the strength of their wholesale operation negates much care for their retail presence.

                                          That said, it's odd they make non-bread items, because I agree they are pretty mediocre! The bread is good and normal, though! Last time I was there--which was a while ago--it was something like $2.50 per loaf. If it's day-old, I think they sell it for just $1.00.

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                            I have not had any real pastry-type items from Rosemark, however, I know they supply Joan's in the Park with their bread and it is delicious! Like, I could just eat the bread and be a happy girl, delicious. So, I wouldn't completely write them off.

                                            1. re: Seige

                                              Interesting! I liked the bread at Joans in the Park, too. Does Rosemark sell their bread to the public or just their dreadful donuts?


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Yes, it's $2.50 a loaf if I remember, and they also have a day-old shelf with bread for $1.00. They have white, wheat, marble rye and probably a few other kinds. They'll slice it thin, regular, or Texas if I remember correctly.

                                                Like I said, I don't know why they even bother making anything other than bread!

                                          2. re: sheepy

                                            When did the dry cleaners change? I've been going there, maybe not knowing it changed hands. Maybe it has been a while since I've been in.

                                            And did go to Baldingers occasionally when I had laundry to bring in. Remember it as pretty good.

                                            1. re: karykat

                                              It has been the current cleaners for a long time. Until around 1986ish it was St Clair Cleaners. Sweeney's bought the building and completely redid it; it is beautiful, and includes air conditioning, which my father always said was impossible in a cleaners. The new owner passed away a bit later (maybe a year) but his children were running it last I heard and they do great work. I don't know if they do work by hand or are automated, but I'm thinking it is by hand. Not many places still do that.

                                              And my dad liked Rosemark when they came in because every morning he'd park his car, go in through their back door and take two fresh, hot donuts. Until the day my mother went into Rosemark and someone ratted out my dad, who was supposed to be on a diet.

                                              1. re: sheepy

                                                Just had a donut from Rosemark; it was definitely NOT the donut I had from there a few months ago which I liked so much. It was bad. Something changed, their consistency is suspect, but I know they are capable of making good donuts.

                                        2. re: MayrMN

                                          Denny's has over-the-top nice people working there. I'm not quite as sold on their donuts as some of the others mentioned, but it's a fairly regular stop for me. They have a huge selection of bars, donuts, cookies, etc.