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Rose’s Fine Food Uses Unconventional Ingredients to Make Blissful Paczki

Detroit’s charming diner uses mashed potatoes to fry Polish doughnuts year-round

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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.

Eggy Ding (left) and Molly Mitchell (right) at Rose’s Fine Foods in Detroit.
Michelle Gerard

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.

Mitchell starts out with a pre-ferment mixture called a poolish made from warm water, yeast, and a portion of the total flour used for the recipe. This sits for 30 to 45 minutes until the mixture starts to bubble. Once the poolish is activated, she adds the remainder of the all-purpose flour, sugar, and salt into the poolish and mixes the ingredients in a stand mixer using a dough hook.
Mitchell mixes equal amounts of room temperature butter and mashed potatoes together. Rose’s uses the same red potatoes used in its other dishes to make the doughnuts, but Mitchell says any good mashing potato will do.
Mitchell adds the eggs to the dough after about a minute of mixing. She then gradually adds in the potatoes and butter until the dough begins to form a ball — about 10 minutes.
Rose’s lets the dough rest for at least 45 minutes, but usually overnight.
Once the dough has rested, Mitchell rolls the dough out until it’s roughly half an inch thick and uses a circular cutter to cut out each paczek. The dough can be re-rolled to cut out more paczki from the remainder.
The cut paczki are left covered for 30 to 45 minutes before frying so they can proof.
Rose’s uses a Dutch oven filled with oil heated to 350 degrees (It’s hot enough if a piece of dough floats and has bubbles around it). Mitchell flips the paczki when they begin to puff up on the edges.
Mitchell checks the paczki to see if they’ve achieved the right color. She feels them to make sure they’re light. If the paczki are heavy, they’re most likely still raw in the middle.
Paczki are moved from the hot oil onto a wire rack to cool.
Mitchell uses a pointed tool to make space for the filling in each paczki. “There’s nothing worse than a doughnut that’s not filled right,” she says.
Molly Mitchell fills paczki behind the counter at Rose’s Fine Food.
Mitchell prefers to use squeeze bottles rather than pastry bags to fill the doughnuts with housemade rose custard and Beau Bien Fine Foods plum jam.
Gerard + Belevender
Each paczek is dipped into frosting.
The rose custard paczki receive sprinklings of rose petals while the plum-filled paczki are dusted in poppy seeds.
two paczki made with potato dough topped with icing and rose flowers and poppy seeds.  There’s a cup of coffee next to them
The finished product.
Michelle Gerard

All Rose’s Fine Food Coverage [ED]
All Paczki Mania Coverage [ED]

Rose's Fine Food

10551 E. Jefferson, Detroit, MI Visit Website

Poppies

1400 Van Dyke, Detroit, MI Visit Website

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