Any excuse for a donut


Paczki from Babushka's Kitchen. Photos by Nicholas Dekker.

Fat Tuesday is synonymous with overindulgence, and one of the better symbols of it – aside from alcohol, I suppose – is the paczki. These Polish pastries originated in pre-Lenten festivities, when families had to use up all the excess fat, sugar, fruit and alcohol before settling down for more austere eats in the run-up to Easter.

What does this mean for you today? Awesome donuts on Mardis Gras. Typically they're circular, yeast-raised, filled with fruits or nuts, flavored with vodka, rum or brandy, then topped with powdered sugar. Columbus doesn't have as strong of a Polish community as, say, Cleveland or Detroit, but dedicated fans can carve out their own tour.

Buckeye Donuts

The ownership may be Greek, but Buckeye Donuts still knows how to cater to their Polish friends. The demand is high: "Every year we make a little bit more, but no matter what, we always sell out," owner Jimmy Barouxis explained. He fries up the delicacies ("jelly donuts on steroids," he calls them) in batches of 300-350. Last year he made about four batches and they sold out by the afternoon. The donuts are distinguished from his regular yeast-raised offerings with more butter and eggs; he fills them with lemon, blueberry, raspberry jelly or custard.

Destination Donuts

If we can trust anyone to do paczki justice, it's Heather Morris – the award-winning "donut queen" behind Destination Donuts. She's crafting one type – raspberry-filled and with a dash of vodka – and they'll be available at Hills Market Downtown, One Line Coffee and at Bubbles Tea & Juice inside North Market. "They're very, very similar to a regular yeast donut," she said, "but they use a little bit more egg than traditional varieties I make."

The Grocery Store: The Andersons, Kroger, Giant Eagle, Meijer

Most of the major grocery stores around town will have them: The Andersons, Kroger, Giant Eagle and Meijer. They usually don't make the paczki; many of the stores get them from larger bakeries like Maplehurst, then glaze and fill them in-house. Fillings often include cherry, Bavarian cream, apple, lemon, strawberry and raspberry, but every bakery department said they also supply unfilled paczki and will fill them to order. Thinking of a getting a bunch? Call ahead first.

UPDATE: Wolf's Ridge Brewing Wolf's Ridge just announced it'll be serving paczki in its taproom Tuesday evening, too. The brewery's crafting a sweet cheese paczki, which will be available starting at 4 p.m. in the taproom only.

Nicholas Dekker writes about breakfast at breakfastwithnick.com and authored the guidebook "Breakfast With Nick: Columbus," with a second edition coming spring 2015. He leads breakfast and brunch tours for Columbus Food Adventures and brewery tours for Columbus Brew Adventures.