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Detour for doughnuts and more in Western Kentucky
By Tom Adkinson
February 16, 2024

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Schlabachs Bakery
James Schlabach, third-generation owner of Schlabach’s Bakery, starts making doughnuts and other goodies at 5 a.m. five days a week. Image by Tom Adkinson

GUTHRIE, Ky. – Refueling your vehicle, stretching your legs and getting a snack are the normal reasons for taking a break on a long interstate highway trip, but what if that snack was something more memorable that a bag of chips and a soft drink?

Schlabach’s Bakery answers that question with fresh doughnuts, fried pies, cinnamon rolls and other goodies to entice you off I-24 near the little town of Guthrie, Ky., and the bigger city of Clarksville, Tenn. Travelers know it’s an excellent reason to wheel off the interstate at Exit 4.

An 11-mile detour for doughnuts delivers the extra pleasure of rolling through the Kentucky countryside on the way to visiting a family of bakers that has been heating up the ovens since 1970.

James Schlabach, who is in the third generation of Schlabachs to own the business, likes telling how the bakery originated. Doughnuts on a school were the start of it all.

Schlabach’s grandmother made doughnuts for her three daughters, one of whom became James’s mother, for their lunches. However, the entrepreneurial schoolgirls learned that they were toting a salable commodity.

Word spread, and Grandma Schlabach began cranking out doughnuts on a bigger scale. Soon enough, she needed more space than her home kitchen, and a real business was born.

Doughnuts remain popular at Schlabach’s Bakery, but they yield the title of most popular item to several varieties of bread. The bakery’s production facility and a small retail space occupy the same building, so it’s a guarantee that the loaves you see on the racks are fresh.

The racks are filled with sourdough, white, wheat, honey wheat, salt-rising and raisin bread. Sourdough is the biggest seller.

Rachel Hoover raisin bread
Employee Rachel Hoover shows off the bakery’s popular raisin bread because this day’s run of the most popular seller, sourdough, was sold out. Image by Tom Adkinson

“Everything is fresh. We don’t use any preservatives, and I make my sourdough starter every day,” Schlabach said, noting that he’s heating ovens and weighing out dough by 5 a.m. five days a week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

Don’t wheel in on Thursday, a day reserved for the business’s non-baking needs, or Sunday, which is a well-deserved day of rest. Thanksgiving and Christmas are so busy that the Schlabach family takes the month of January off, too.

Cinnamon rolls, which are just as tasty in the backseat of a car as they are at the breakfast table, come in several styles (traditional with white glaze, but also raisin, caramel/nut, cherry-filled and apple-filled).

Schlabachs Bakery
Schlabach’s Bakery is a simple building out in the Kentucky countryside just a few miles north of I-24 at Exit 4. Image by Tom Adkinson

You’ll find even more variety in the bakery’s fried pies.

“We make about 800 fried pies a week, turning out fresh ones every day,” Schlabach said. Among the flavors are apple, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, chocolate, peach and strawberry.

More temptations include brownies, nut breads, cookies, dinner rolls, jams, sorghum and honey, and Schlabach says the whole inventory is popular for school and church fundraisers in the region.

More difficult to eat in the car, but just as tempting, are jam cakes, fudge cakes, Italian cream cakes and a variety of fruit pies.

“We make everything ourselves, except the honey and sorghum. We make the fruit fillings, the icings, everything,” he said.

peach jam
Schlabach’s Bakery sells jams, honey and sorghum along with its breads, cakes, pies, cinnamon rolls, fried pies and other goodies. Image by Tom Adkinson

If you ask people in the area about the bakery, they likely are to call it the Amish Bakery because the Schlabach family is of Amish heritage.

“It’s interesting. Ninety percent of everyone knows us as the Amish Bakery, but we’ve never used ‘Amish’ in the name,” he said.

schlabachs fried pies
Schlabach’s Bakery makes approximately 800 fried pies a week. The hand-sized treats are perfect for travel snacking. Image by Tom Adkinson

Trip-planning resources:,, and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available on The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is included in the third edition of the book, which is available at

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