Fluffy donuts, sugary pastries, freshly baked breads, and perfectly-designed cakes—that’s what you can find in just about every town in Michigan. No, we’re not talking about chain bakeries you can find anywhere throughout the U.S.
Michigan is home to an innumerable amount of family-owned bakeries, each with their own success story about what makes their donut, cake, pie, or muffin unique. There are, however, a few that stand out among the bunch.
Sweetwater’s Donut Mill
People travel from Texas and Florida just to get a whiff of the sweet smells inside Sweetwater’s. When you walk inside, you’re immediately overwhelmed by the aroma of rising yeast dough, containers of rainbow sprinkles in the back, and the shiny glaze coating on apple fritters as big as your head.
The family-owned bakery started in Kalamazoo in 1983, and eventually expanded to two more locations with another in Kalamazoo and one in Battle Creek. It’s been recognized as one of the “Best Donuts in America” by MSN City Guide and AOL. This past year, Sweetwater’s Donut Mill was recognized again and again for its delicious donuts. It was named among the best of 33 donut shops in America by Thrillist. Again in March 2015, Sweetwater’s won second place for “Michigan’s Best Donut,” a part of the ongoing “Michigan’s Best” series. In October 2015, Thrillist analyzed donuts once again, but this time in every state, naming Sweetwater’s the best in Michigan. Sweetwater’s has also appeared on the Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown.”
If you’re looking for traditional and unique donuts, this is the place to stop. Pull through the drive-thru to get a quick coffee and half a dozen donuts, but we recommend walking inside so you can see (and smell) the endless options on the back donut case or “The Fancies” displayed in the front case. The best thing of all? They’re open 24/7 year round so you can get your donut fix anytime you want.
Sweetwater’s is truly a treat. Kids may be bouncing off the walls after biting into a traditional powdered cake donut, but so will their parents after eating a rich German chocolate donut coated with a caramel and coconut topping.
Glazed & Confused Bakery
The newest thing to take Lansing by storm is this sugary sensation. Glazed and Confused Bakery recently opened mid-August this year and has been a hit ever since. Within 10 minutes of opening its doors, four hundred freshly baked donuts were already in the hands and bellies of Lansing residents. On their opening day, they even had to close the doors to reorganize after selling 1,000 donuts in the first couple hours, according to the Lansing State Journal.
The Lansing firefighter who opened the bakery wanted to focus on fresh food without preservatives or high fructose corny syrup, something we can’t seem to escape with today’s food. Donuts aren’t their only specialties here. There are specialty pastries, freshly baked cookies, muffins, tarts, scones, breakfast sandwiches, and cakes. They are also open for lunch, serving salads and lunch sandwiches.
Not a fan of donuts? Well Sweetie-licious Bakery Café makes fresh pies—national award-winning pies. Choose from a variety of fillings and types—Key Lime, Raspberry Cream, Coconut Cream, Peanut Butter Chocolate Cream, and many more, all surrounded by a sweet, flaky handmade crust that will melt in your mouth. In addition to these savory pies, Sweetie-licious serves sandwiches, salads, soups, and a variety of other baked goods including fresh cookies, creamy cupcakes, and rich brownies.
Linda Hundt, the owner of Sweetie-licious, always wanted to start her own pie shop. As a home-business originally, her pies grew in popularity at farm markets and restaurants and she eventually expanded her business. Her slogan “Eat pie, love life!” is carried throughout the three locations, one in DeWitt and two in Grand Rapids. Sweetie-licious has won countless awards, including “Best of Show” at the Crisco National Pie Championships, “Best in Show” at The Food Network’s “Amazing Pie Challenge,” and many other first place awards.
Sweetie-licious has grown in popularity through the years. During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Republican runner Mitt Romney made a stop at Sweet-licious Bakery Café in DeWitt to meet with Linda and try a taste of the famous baked goods. Just last year, Linda also appeared on the “Steve Harvey Show” to compete for Best Apple Pie in America.
Cops & Doughnuts
If you’re craving an elephant ear or a filled Bismarck, then look no further than Cops & Doughnuts. The Clare-based bakery with locations in seven Michigan counties has been a hit throughout the state since 1896. When the bakery was prepared to close its doors for good, nine police officers from the Clare Police Department decided to take over. The atmosphere is filled with cop décor to go with the theme. Doughnuts might be in their name, but they also bake fresh bread, pastries, and other sweet treats that will make you want to take a nap after eating.
Clare’s Cops & Doughnuts has won many awards, including Michigan Municipal League’s 2011 “Community Excellence Award” for its success story of how a group of police officers joined together to revive a community gathering place.
A pastry chef and the lead baker at Cops & Doughnuts also appeared on The Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown” and took home the win. Their “driftwood doughnut,” a long john filled with coconut cream and topped with a sweet chocolate ganache with toasted coconut, was the deciding factor among the judges.