Molly Mitchell grew up eating doughnuts made with mashed potatoes. The doughnuts were an occasional treat made fresh by her mother Shirley Mitchell who rather than frosting them, dipped them in warm maple syrup for a little extra sweetness. “She was really into health foods, so I think her mind making doughnuts that had potatoes in them was more nutritious,” Mitchell muses. Today, Shirley’s potato doughnuts are a staple at Molly’s charming East Jefferson eatery Rose’s Fine Food and the basis for the restaurant’s blissful, signature paczki recipe.
Although paczki are most frequently consumed on Fat Tuesday, people pay a premium to savor Rose’s rendition of Polish doughnuts year-round through online food marketplace Goldbelly. Rose’s overnights orders for the potato doughnuts from the website to customers around the country for whopping $89 a dozen. (They’re notably available at a lower cost here in Detroit.) Mitchell says she was a bit skeptical at first that consumers would be willing to order filled doughnuts online, but now fields at least one order each week.
On Paczki Day — as is the case at so many bakeries around metro Detroit — the demand is even higher. Last year, the restaurant made around 300 doughnuts for orders and walk-ins. While the number is relatively small compared to some of the major paczki bakeries in Hamtramck, Rose’s output is still impressive given the fact that Mitchell and head baker Eggy Ding rely on a small, standard Kitchen Aid mixer and a single Dutch oven to fry small batches of paczki about five at a time. Mitchell is looking forward to one day moving the frying operation to a more mature kitchen space at her forthcoming Polish restaurant and bakery Poppies in West Village.
Making paczki from potatoes isn’t necessarily traditional. But Mitchell, who is Polish on her mother’s side, says that Rose’s tested “a bunch of different recipes for paczki dough” before returning to their go-to doughnut recipe which achieves a similar texture to a classic paczki. “My grandpa would always go down to Hamtramck and get [paczki] and my mom and all my aunts talk about how chewy they were and that they were a little denser than a normal donut,” she says. “This recipe has a little bit more chew and texture to it than a typical yeast doughnut.” While the dough may not be a bonafide Polish version, the flavors are traditional with fillings such as rose-custard and plum-honey jam. Each batch makes around 24 doughnuts. They’re plump yet light with a good amount of filling and a beautiful presentation that includes a sprinkling of poppy seeds or a dusting of crushed rose petals.
Mitchell and Ding invited Eater into their kitchen for a step-by-step look at the paczki making ritual at Rose’s. Take a peek at the process as captured by photographers Michelle Gerard and Jenna Belevender below. While the restaurant’s pre-orders are sold out for Fat Tuesday, Rose’s will be open with frittata, coffee, and a handful of paczki for walk-ins in flavors like Boston cream and lemon sugar.