La Grange: Not just a ZZ Top song…

9 Oct

Hear ye!  Hear ye!

For today’s expedition, Your Heroes ventured into the fair land of La Grange, IL to visit Kirschbaum’s Bakery.

We had received a tip from one of Coffee Girl’s co-workers (that is, one of her co-workers at her weekday cover job) that Kirschbaum’s was a great place for donuts.  How true this turned out to be…

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Donut #1: Maple Frosted Donut

Coffee Girl:

The maple donut, frankly, startled me by its smoothness.  It sort of hit me slowly.  The frosting did not have the quick sugar smack that one might find in cheaper donuts.  It was thick and creamy and the exact right degree of hardness vs. softness.  Also, while it was definitely very sweet, the sweetness kind of unfolded in tandem with the maple taste, which, again, was a smooth taste that built.  All in all, a more complicated experience than your average donut.

The basic cake of Kirschbaum’s donut is worth talking about for a second, too.  Like the best, Kirschbaum’s cake donut is the right cake-y consistency.  Substantial but not too heavy, with a little bit of crunch to the crust.  Just as real estate is, “Location, location, location,” with donuts it’s all about, “Freshness, freshness, freshness.”  And this donut had that.

Donut Boy:

As the first donut I tasted, I would have to agree that “smooth” is the exact adjective that comes to mind.  Perhaps it is my relative youth that has made me unappreciative of what frosting can do for a donut.  With my first bite of this donut I was immediately struck by the frosting.  With other donuts, I’ve always enjoyed the frosting as a nice garnish on top of the donut.  With this donut, the frosting ran side-by-side with the cake of the donut to deliver an amazing taste.  The perfect balance.

Donut #2: Toasted Coconut with Vanilla Frosting

Donut Boy:

With my second donut, I was expecting excellent frosting and I was not disappointed.  In contrast to the maple frosting of my first donut, the vanilla frosting on this donut was a different brand of sweet.  As my cohort has mentioned already, the sweetness of Kirschbaum’s donuts is at no point overwhelming.  Rather, it builds to a crescendo as you approach the end of the donut, the delectable flavor helping you get over the emotional toll of not having a donut to eat anymore.

Coffee Girl:

The best toasted coconut donut I’ve ever had.  There are two reasons for this.  First, the frosting.  The base frosting was just so good.  And secondly, the coconut taste.  It must have been the freshness.  It hit sort of slowly and didn’t build to be cloying.

Donut #3: Chocolate Frosted

Donut Boy:

We’d heard about Kirschbaum’s chocolate frosted donuts, so I was excited for this donut.  And I had every reason to be.  As with the maple and the toasted coconut, the frosting on this donut announced itself immediately, not by the severity of its sweetness, but simply by its quality.  Rich.  Creamy.  And as Coffee Girl mentioned already, the cake dough of every Kirschbaum’s donut is simply phenomenal.  This was my favorite donut of the morning.

Donut #4: Chocolate Frosted with Sprinkles

Coffee Girl:

Just as word on the street had it, the chocolate donuts at Kirschbaum’s leave one speechless.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s the frosting.  Thick, sweet-but-not-too-sweet, and just….creamy and luscious.  Also, Kirschbaum’s does not skimp on the frosting. The fall-colored sprinkles, I might add, both looked and tasted delicious, adding a soupçon of crunch to the chocolate awesomeness.

I would like to point out, too, that the size of Kirschbaum’s donuts is a nice sort of hometown-bakery smaller size, which I deeply approve of, because come on now – we don’t want to get stomach aches at the end of the day.

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Had we stopped there, we certainly would have been entirely satisfied.  Kirschbaum’s provides a topnotch donut experience.  Fortunately, they also carry a large assortment of other baked goods, running the gamut from simple hamburger rolls to Danishes of many varieties.  Below are a few Bonus Pastries that caught our eye:

Bonus Pastry #1: Brown Sugar Danish

Donut Boy:

This pastry had the best crunch of anything I had all morning.  The quality of the Danish itself – Kirschbaum’s nailed it.  In three words: Brown Sugar Excellence.

Bonus Pastry #2: Chocolate Frosted Danish

Coffee Girl:

You take a Kirshbaum’s chocolate frosted donut, which leaves one speechless.  You cross it with an angelic pastry.  And…the only way I could really describe the chocolate frosted Danish is…if I had a choir to sing about it.  Now, it’s my responsibility to the public to add that there were chocolate chips inside the Danish.  The chocolate frosting was gloppy (in a good way) and decadent.  The Danish was buttery, light, but was kept from just floating away into the ether by the chocolate chips that grounded it.  It took my breath away.

Bonus Pastry #3: Cream Puff

Donut Boy:

I noticed this small, unassuming pastry at the last second, and I’m glad I did.  Just as the frosting on their donuts is worth raving about (see above, and above, and above), the whipped cream contained inside this cream puff was simply phenomenal.  Light, soft enough to make you purr, richly sweet.  If I had just had a spoonful of this whipped cream, I would have left Kirschbaum’s a happy customer.  Fortunately, the cream came nestled in between two pieces of light, fluffy pastry, accented nicely with powdered sugar.  A simple pastry done very well.

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A final note…

As you can tell, Kirschbaum’s knows their stuff.  It should have come as no surprise, then, that we entered the bakery to a packed crowd, holding numbers and eagerly awaiting their turn to place their orders.  We strongly recommend that you pay Kirschbaum’s a visit, but here are a few good things to keep in mind when visiting a bakery of their caliber:

  1. Get there early. The donuts and pastries we had were superb.  Perhaps our only regret is that it was evident that Kirschbaum’s offers many other varieties of donuts that they had already run out of by the time we arrived (around 9 AM).  The lingering crumbs on Kirschbaum’s empty trays served as a reminder: The early bird gets the worm.  Next time, we will try to arrive by 8 AM at the latest.
  2. Don’t be intimidated. The service at Kirschbaum’s was great.  But their employees are gathering donuts and other goods for a large number of customers over the span of a morning.  They move briskly.  Don’t be thrown off by requests fired at you rapidly asking what you want.  Take a breath, center yourself, and place your order.  There’s really no way you could get something that you won’t like.
  3. Be prepared. While you shouldn’t be put off by the fast pace of Kirschbaum’s and other professional bakeries, it’s definitely worth eyeballing all the offerings before you step up to the counter.  Luckily, with busy places like Kirschbaum’s, you’ll definitely have a few minutes to gather your thoughts as you wait to be helped.
  4. Don’t worry about having to point and describe what you want. Perhaps Kirschbaum’s one downfall was that their goods were not clearly labeled.  In any bakery where this is the case, don’t worry about coming across as ignorant.  The only person that is expected to know the exact name of every pastry is the employee that is gathering them for you.  Pointing and describing the dessert your heart desires is a totally acceptable way of getting your point across.  The employees will meet you half-way, and once you’re both on the same page – well, it’s only a matter of time before the prize is yours.

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And that about sums it up.  Kirschbaum’s was a truly great experience, and is a bakery that we will certainly visit in the future.

Until next time, Donut Lovers!

-CG&DB

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