Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sweet Donuts

We turned off Interstate 94 in hopes of locating the ice cream shop I’d read was in Kalamazoo. (I later remembered it was Tommie’s Goodie Shop and is known for its creative homemade flavors.) We never found the ice cream shop.

What we did discover was Sweetwater’s Donut Mill. It was just a few minutes off the expressway on the main drag, Stadium Drive. Always on a quest for a good plain unglazed cake donut (the standardized test for a donut shop), I am not one to pass up a promising-looking independent donut shop. There are a few good ones in my area of western suburban Chicago: Kay’s Bakery in Forest Park, Honey Bee Bakery in Downer’s Grove and Bridgeport Bakery on the South Side of Chicago. They all have what I consider their specialties – but none of them do all things donuts well. For example, Bridgeport Bakery’s Boston Cream donut is tremendous (with homemade vanilla cream), but their chocolate glaze is too sweet on the chocolate cake and the plain unglazed is passable.

The perfect donut shop must also have a lunch counter with stools for patrons to sit upon and drink black coffee from white enamel diner cups. The donut shop I discovered in tiny Peru, Illinois, on the way back from a camping trip has such a lunch counter, which is frequented by older gentlemen catching up on town gossip. The fact that donuts in Peru are also only 50 cents a-piece adds a great deal to the shop’s charm.

Donuts at Sweetwater’s are 84 cents a-piece and I have no problem paying this price for any donut worth its sugary, fried weight. I am happy to support a good old-fashioned donut shop. And Sweetwater’s Donut Mill was that type of shop; with a lunch counter to boot!

As we walked in the door, the Sweetwater’s counter attendant was just bringing out a fresh wire tray of hot cinnamon and sugar dusted cake donuts – at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. And I can nearly guarantee the same experience for you, whenever you should arrive. Sweetwater’s makes fresh, hot donuts all day long because they are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Sweetwater’s plain cake was rich and cakey, but not too heavy. Tiny dark specks in the donut confirmed the ever-so-subtle flavor of sweet nutmeg. But there wasn’t even a hint of old-grease flavor. It was a sweet and simply delicious product; and it passed the quality test with very high marks.

The Peanut Butter Cup donut was an entirely different breed of donut. Smothered with home-made peanut frosting and generously filled with chocolate buttercream, it wasn’t very simple – but it was delicious. The cherry cake was heavy with tiny pieces of maraschino cherries and was truly pretty in pink. Even the French Crueller, which the counter attendant threw in for free, “Because I think they’re only good when they’re still hot,” was light, fluffy, egg-y and sweet fried goodness. The chocolate cake was deep dark cocoa. There were over twenty varieties; many were original like Snickers, Banana Cream Pie and Reeses.

The shop doesn’t have a web site, but they do have three locations in Michigan: 3333 Stadium Drive and 2138 Sprinkle Road both in Kalamazoo, and I-94 at Capital in Battle Creek.

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