Inside the Kitchen at Cops and Doughnuts Clare City Bakery

Don’t let the name fool you. Cops and Doughnuts Clare City Bakery has more than it’s title suggests.

While the sweet breakfast pastries are one of its specialties — the menu boasts so much more. 9&10’s Jenny Buechel takes you there in this week’s edition of Inside the Kitchen.

Back in 1896, this storefront first opened as the Clare City Bakery. When the ovens were rumored to close for good in 2009, a new sheriff came to town.

“In May of 2009 we learned they were gonna close it for the first of July, so we purchased it on the first of July and renamed it Cops and Doughnuts Clare City Bakery.”

Greg “Ryno” Rynearson and eight other Clare City Police officers rescued the business, promising it would remain a scratch-made bakery like it’s predecessor.

Fast forward to 2014, the bakery has expanded to three storefronts with forty employees who serve half a million people per year.

“Think of Grandma’s house first and all of the good food that you used to have at Grandma’s house. You walk in our front door and you can smell all of it. You can smell the sweets and the baked goods from the bakery, you can smell the corned beef and the smoked pork smoking in the diner…it’s love.”

And the love is on the rise. Last February, Cops and Doughnuts brought home $10,000 after winning the Cooking Channel’s Donut Showdown. That’s when pastry Chef Dave Wittenbach and assistant Katie Nice first crafted the Driftwood. And From the dough up, this pastry is made to look like real driftwood. First the dough is rolled out and then cut into roughly two inch strips and splintered along the edges.

“From here we put them in the proof box and we let them raise for 35-40 minutes before we fry them. The fryer.”

From the fryer the Driftwoods get a little love stuffed into their center.

“Once we have our cavity all the way through it then we put our pastry bag filled with our special driftwood cream. It tastes like vacation. The coconut.”

The chocolate ganache is heated to the perfect consistency and then we’re on to the dunking.

And once more coconut is added, there’s just one thing left to do.

On average, the crew at Cops & Doughnuts makes a daily 300 dozen doughnuts. Last Labor Day, they broke their record at 841 dozen.

And on the diner side, people can’t stop talking about the chief of sandwiches.

“We call it a Double Up Reuben, its made with our own swirl bread, that is a swirl rye pumpernickel that’s grilled. There’s actually three layers of bread in there. We’ve got the cheese on it, the sauerkraut and then the big winner that makes it different is the corn beef. We season and bake all of our corn beef right here in house and then pull it like pulled pork.”

First the pumpernickel gets its four slices of Swiss cheese and goes straight into the grill for some mega melting action.

Then, it’s time for the beef.

“So since it’s already cooked what we’re gonna do is steam it a little bit and then we’re gonna cover it.”

The melty-cheese rye goes down into liquid butter and the sauerkraut is added to the grill.

“Our sauerkraut we dress up with a little bit of brown sugar. Takes off a little bitterness? A little bit of the acidity goes away and its got a nice sweet you know, bite to it.”

And when it’s time for their house-made Russian dressing, these guys are anything but shy.

“Oh no it’s Russians gone wild.” 

“This big, this big, half your face! I couldn’t even do it!”

From the crumbly pastries to the decadent breads, all the way to the diner’s towering plate fulls, Cops & Doughnuts is certain of one thing.

“We know that it’s working. We’re working on our 6th year, we have families bringing their families back all the time. You’re just not coming to a doughnut shop when you’re coming here. You’re coming to an event.”

Cops & Doughnuts is located in downtown Clare, Michigan. You can visit them Sunday through Thursday 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.