Roeser’s Bakery: A Century of Donut Making!

30 Apr

A few months back, we paid a visit to Dinkel’s Bakery.  It’s a time-honored pastry shop that’s been in Chicago since 1922.  We were floored by their legacy (88 years!), as well as a pretty amazing maple bacon donut.  We thought we had a pretty good grasp on the situation.

Enter: Roeser’s Bakery on North & Kedzie in Chicago.  Established 1911100 years of baking experience!  While Dinkel’s own history is nothing to shake a crueller at, Roeser’s has been around even longer.

This Saturday, we had a chance to step onto hallowed Pastry Ground and try the donuts at Roeser’s.

Here’s what we found:

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Donuts #1 & #2:

Choc. Frosted Cake & Choc. Frosted Cake w/ Sprinkles

Coffee Girl: Thick, milk chocolate-y frosting generously covers a delicate, rich cake donut.  Personally, we like a bit more crunch on the outside, but Roeser’s shows off its hundred years of experience with this excellent entry.  The chocolate-sprinkle donut stands out for its luxurious carpet of sprinkles, adding a level of interest to the overall texture of the cake donut without completely making up for its crunchlessness.

Donut Boy: Hooray for textbook-awesome chocolate frosting that tastes like it’s just been applied!  Moist, buttery cake dough.  What else could you ask for?  Well, as my colleague mentioned, maybe a bit more crunch.  But I’d still have to say Roeser’s nails it right off the bat.  Their liberal application of sprinkles took the second donut to a whole ‘nother level.  Mmmm!

Donut #3: Choc. Frosted Yeast Donut

Coffee Girl: By now, we know better than to expect a good bakery to excel at everything.  With this donut we again rejoiced at Roeser’s Killer Frosting.  But the Baker in Charge of Yeast Donuts must have fallen asleep before he added all the ingredients to the dough. The texture of the donut is wonderfully pillow-y, but the bland taste lacks a punch line.

Donut Boy: Yep, still lovin’ that frosting, but the yeast dough…Certainly not bad, just nothing too noteworthy.  Nice hints of butter.  Okay, but the cake donut version (see previous) is better.

Donut #4: White Frosted Coconut

Coffee Girl: Wonderful whipped cream frosting holds on plenty of fresh-tasting coconut on an excellent cake doughnut. Just fry them longer, Roeser Bakers, and you’d get a little crunch on the outside!

Donut Boy: This donut truly tasted like the clerk had whipped out a spreading knife and frosted it to-order for us.  Yours Truly didn’t really taste any coconut (we never do, really), but I’d have to say that wasn’t too concerning.  A delicious donut, a true Frosting Event.

Donut #5: Glazed

Coffee Girl: This donut came excruciatingly close to being heavenly.  Fresh cushion-y dough, with just the right amount of chew, underneath a wonderful sticky glaze.  WAKE UP, ROESER’S BAKERS!!!  You left out some ingredients, right?

Donut Boy: This donut looked so inviting, glistening and plump.  Upon tasting, it didn’t offer up much.  I again noted a buttery taste (I’m always pro-butter), but I thought the dough inside bordered on too-dense.  The glaze didn’t seem to really have a distinct flavor, and I have to say I would have liked more sweetness.  By any standards a great donut, but in the company of other competitors (see previous and following), only sort of good.

Donut #6: Apple Fritter

Coffee Girl: Let’s not be too critical.  If we were sitting at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee and a newspaper and someone walked in and handed us one of these apple fritters, we would be delighted.  Lovely cinnamon swirls enhance a tasty, bread-y dough with bits of fresh-tasting apple and a tasty sugar glaze.  But, well… you explain, Donut Boy.

Donut Boy: I don’t necessarily consider this a true apple fritter.  For me, a fritter is thin, heavily fried, and crispy.  This pastry appeared to be none of the above.  That’s not to say I didn’t like it — I did — but this “apple pastry,” for lack of a better term, was outshone by other entries.  Read on.

Donut #7: Choc. Frosted Custard Bismark

Donut Boy: This morning, a new precedent was set for Filling Distribution, which I will compare future donuts to.  Just look at that cross-section!  The pastry itself?  Darn tasty, with luscious chocolate frosting (as already discussed) and a moist dough supporting a cool, sweet custard.  Going, going, gone.

Donut #8: Red Velvet

Coffee Girl: Nice. Very nice.  OK, so the rich red cake still lacks an exterior crunch, but the cream cheese frosting is divine and the whole taste experience is top-notch.  If you close your eyes, you think you’re eating a piece of cake.  And we like cake.

Donut Boy: You can taste the confectioner’s sugar and cream cheese in this frosting and boy, is it delicious.  If you told me Roeser’s made these in little donut-shaped cake molds, I’d believe you.  In other words, I still would have liked more crunch.  But I digress: this pastry possessed True Flavor Awesomeness

Donut #9: Glazed Old-Fashioned

Coffee Girl: If you compared Roeser’s version of this donut to the one you can get at Starbucks, you’d have to grade this one significantly higher.  This fresh, creamy-tasting cake is enrobed in a nice sugar glaze.  Yet, like the one at Starbucks, this classic unfortunately share a lack of crunch and a lack of focus in the bland taste.

Donut Boy: This donut tasted like someone made a little circular cake and put it up for sale as a donut.  The flavor here, though, pointed to pound cake.  Moist and butter-y.  I really loved this donut, but again, I would have liked more crunch.  How else do you have the proof you need that it’s been fried?

Donut #10: Raspberry-Filled Bismark


Donut Boy
: A light from The Upper Donut Realm shines down upon this pastry.  Truly masterful Filling Distribution.  The raspberry jelly had a freshly-pressed taste with a distinctly granulated raspberry texture.  Bonus?  The bismark itself was coated in sugar, providing an additional crunch (at last!) that made the whole donut sing.  Definitely worth checking out if you dig jelly donuts.

Coffee Girl: Excellent jelly donut.  The filling tastes like actual raspberry jam, instead of the gelatinous bright red goo we often encounter.  Almost too much jelly, actually.

Donut #11: Strawberry

Coffee Girl: Here we did encounter red goo, but it was just what the fresh strawberries underneath needed to keep them attached to a very nice glazed yeast donut underneath.  The whole item was so difficult to eat that we failed to notice any blandness on the part of the underlying donut.  Nice curb appeal.

Donut Boy: This donut immediately caught my eye when we entered Roeser’s.  Such a beautiful sight.  Actually ingesting it proved a bit cumbersome — the strawberries played the part of sticky bombs waiting to fall on an unsuspecting Donuteer’s lap — but the taste was right-off-the-vine fresh.  A gooey glaze coated the whole pastry and, as per usual, the dough proved moist.  I’ll take this over strawberry shortcake any day.

Bonus Pastry: Powdered Cheese Fry

Coffee Girl: My, this was tasty!  Airy confectioner’s sugar coating on a thin, delicious, sweet-cheese-infused pastry.  A little delicate, perhaps, for the True Donuteer, who, as a rule, relies on more aggressive sugar rushes.

Donut Boy: “Cheese fries?” you ask, incredulously.  No, fry.  Singular.  We were intrigued by this pastry so we had the clerk throw one in our box to round out our dozen.  I’m glad we did.  I’m not really sure what I would compare this to — maybe a Danish — but let’s just start with the fact that it was scrumptious.  An interesting sweet-yet-savory cheese invaded every bite and left my tongue simultaneously happy and curious.  Even without knowing very much about this pastry or where it came from, I guarantee I would have another if the opportunity presented itself.

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To call Roeser’s Bakery a historical landmark would not be an overstatement.  The bakery is stuffed to the gills with all kinds of goods, from simple cookies to elaborate cakes.  In fact, their website doesn’t even mention that they have donuts.  But they definitely do.

While we are a little embarrassed we didn’t find about them sooner, our shame has been outshone by the happiness we now feel in having finally visited.  When the corporate chokehold that is Dunkin’ Donuts begins to get us down, we need only to think of the rows and rows of pastries awaiting us at places like Roeser’s.

Whether or not you consider yourself a Donuteer, the sheer historical value of places like Roeser’s merits a trip.  That being said, you should definitely get a donut if you go.

Until next week, fellow Sugar Historians!

-CG&DB

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2 Responses to “Roeser’s Bakery: A Century of Donut Making!”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bridgeport Bakery! « The Breakfast Adventures of Coffee Girl & Donut Boy - May 14, 2011

    […] bakeries have enormous signs shouting for you to check them out (see, for example, the sign at Roeser’s Bakery).  Others are more modest, and you might need to have your Flavor Goggles on to spot key words […]

  2. Weber’s Bakery: Legacy lacks flavor « The Breakfast Adventures of Coffee Girl & Donut Boy - June 18, 2011

    […] been around since 1930.  That’s some serious Donut Legacy (see also: Dinkel’s, Roeser’s) just begging to be […]

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