Midwest Dessert Showdown: Cupcakes, Donuts Or Pie?


Cupcakes. Doughnuts. Pie. In a baked-good showdown, which treat will claim sweet, sweet victory?

Cupcakes have long been America’s sweetheart — they get invited to everybody’s birthday (and now their weddings, too). But you can’t count out the good old doughnut. The holiest of desserts is enjoying a renaissance, sprinkled with breakfast cereal, bacon and even Sriracha sauce.

But there, creeping in from the windowsill, comes the underdog: pie. Can the grandma-made American classic take the sugar-coated throne? Pie shops new and old have a little something up their apron sleeves.

Behold our favorite frosted, fruit-filled and funky desserts from across the Midwest.

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Sugar Bliss

Two words: breakfast cupcake. Sugar Bliss makes the perfect morning pick-me-up in cupcake form with apple cinnamon, blueberry vanilla and cranberry orange flavors. (Image via Sugar Bliss.)



Molly’s Cupcakes

This sweet shop has a sweet story: the shop is named after Molly, the founder’s third-grade teacher, who always baked cupcakes for students’ birthdays. Molly’s Cupcakes now has locations in New York, Iowa City and Chicago, each with killer selections. We favor their center-filled flavors, with everything from peanut butter Nutella to peach cobbler. (Image via Molly’s Cupcakes.)



Glazed and Infused

With Glazed and Infused, you can have doughnuts for every meal. Breakfast? Apple fritter, naturally. Grab the crunchy PB&J flavor for lunch, a ham-and-cheddar savory doughnut for dinner, and then a red velvet for dessert. These doughnut masters roll out tasty creations at five (soon to be six!) Chicago locations. (Image via Glazed and Infused.)


Doughnut Vault

The reviews of the Doughnut Vault say it all: “I waited in line for 40 minutes in February — and it was so worth it!” The doughnuts at the Vault will have you drooling. Sometimes the simplest flavors are the sweetest — the Doughnut Vault’s plain glazed won the title of Best Donut in America in 2013. (Image via Doughnut Vault.)


Bang Bang Pie

The Bang Bang Pie shop uses as many local ingredients as possible — their fresh produce often comes from farms outside the city and their coffee comes from roasters down the street. They not only make amazing pie (Double-crust pear! Pumpkin! Key lime! Chocolate pecan!) but their biscuits are a must-try as well. (Image via Bang Bang Pie — that’s a Frankenpie, two flavors in one.)


First Slice Pie Cafe

Food & Wine declared First Slice’s classic apple pie one of best in the country, but why stop at just one slice? Try their key lime and French silk as well. If you’re one of those crazy people who insists on eating foods other than pie, their menu of sandwiches, salads and soups will satisfy you as well. (Image via First Slice.)



Just Baked

Just Baked is a cupcake juggernaut. Since 2008, they’ve opened 17 locations across Southeastern Michigan. With more than 40 mouthwatering flavors on the menu, you’re sure to fall in love. The Fat Elvis and the salted caramel are calling to us… (Image via Just Baked.)


Taste Love

Anything is possible at Taste Love, including a genuinely delicious vegan doughnut: the vegan brown sugar. The flavors just keep on flowing with the decidedly non-vegan French silk pie and the intriguing sweet potato. (Image via Taste Love.)


Dutch Girl Donuts

Dutch Girls Donuts has reigned over Detroit as a top doughnut destination for more than sixty years. Detroit natives know to go for the raisin bun, but you can’t make a wrong choice at Dutch Girl. (Image via Dutch Girl Donuts.)


Sister Pie

Sister Pie has mastered traditional flavors and wild taste sensations. They bake based on what’s in season, using Michigan-grown cranberries in July and local apples in November. They also whip up flavors like grapefruit black pepper meringue and black bean & green chile, to add a savory pie to the mix. (Image via Sister Pie.)




Cupcake’s head chef and founder Kevin VanDeraa got his sweet start when he was still in the Navy. A friend gave him a “Great American Desserts” cookbook, and the rest is history. With four locations around the Twin Cities, Cupcake serves up an amazing array of flavors, including a killer lemon blueberry and a knock-your-socks-off Mexican hot chocolate. (Image via Cupcake.)

Salty Tart

Time seems to stop when you stare into the pastry case at the Salty Tart. You could spend hours trying to decide between all the mouthwatering cookies, cakes, tarts and pastries. But we have a special place in our heart for their cupcakes — all the classic flavors are there, and if you go at the right time, you can catch their chocolate Surly Furious cupcake, made with a splash of Minnesota-brewed beer. (Image via Salty Tart.)

Glam Doll Donuts

Glam Doll Donuts’ from-scratch creations come topped with everything from sriracha and peanut butter to provolone and muenster. The retro-chic shop is open late on Friday and Saturday — a Glam Doll doughnut can be the perfect way to end a night out on the town. (Image via Glam Doll Donuts.)


Bogart’s Doughnut Co.

Classic. That’s the best way to sum up the treats coming from the Bogart’s kitchen. Traditional has never tasted more delicious. Go often but go early — their doughnuts can sell out before the clock even strikes 10. (Image via Bogart’s.)

Birchwood Café

We know the Birchwood has other desserts on their menu, but we have a hard time not just getting the key lime pie every time. This tasty slice is so popular that the local ice cream gurus at Izzy’s crafted a Birchwood Key Lime Pie flavor ice cream. We’ll take some of both. (Image via Birchwood.)



Jilly’s Cupcake Bar

Jilly’s Cupcakes are almost too big to handle. Almost. Their legendary gourmet stuffed cupcakes come in Mini, Standard and Jumbo, depending on the size of your sweet tooth. Remember: sharing is caring, especially when you’re sharing a half a pound of frosted goodness. (Image via Jilly’s Cupcake Bar.)


Strange Donuts

These game changing “dones” transcend your average sugary breakfast treat to explore uncharted savory territory. The St. Louis bakery often collaborates with local chefs to make mind-blowing creations like “The Pregame,” a doughnut with spicy buffalo chicken, Dorito chips and ranch dressing; or the “Mai Pho King Done,” a Pho broth-filled pastry topped with hoisin glaze, herbs, carrots, peanuts and sriracha. (Image via Strange Donuts.)


Vincent Van Doughnut

Donuts on wheels! Vincent Van Doughnut serves up artisan creations made from scratch, right out of a 1960 Ford van named Clyde. Owner Vincent Brian Marsden and his pastry chef Jamie Hardesty recently took home first place in The Cooking Channel’s “Donut Showdown.” (Image via Vincent Van Doughnut.)


Pie Oh My!

Pie Oh My! serves up old classics and new twists. The head chef draws on her mother’s recipes, straight from a Minnesota farm, but she also takes a walk on the wild side with flavors like apple green chili pecan. (Image via Pie Oh My!.)