Today is Pączki Day. Another excuse for me to get fat.
Pączki (plural of Ponczek) Day also called Fat Tuesday and is a Polish tradition brought to America and is observed the day before Ash Wednesday. Today is that day and I am excited because Pączki reminds me of my childhood.
In Poland, this tradition is a little different, as Pączki are eaten on Fat Thursday, before Ash Wednesday. If you ask me, I would just adapt both traditions and eat them on Thursday and Tuesday because they are so delish!
What is Pączek?
It is a Polish doughnut. A pastry that is usually fried and filled with jelly, confiture or custard and sprinkled with powdered sugar, glazed or topped with frosting.
Pączki is plural for Paczęk.
The preparations and sweet smell in my grandmother’s kitchen is something I cannot bring back. The memories, however, stayed and make me smile every time I am making something my grandmother made me do. As the only girl, I was asked to help out quite often, but not all kitchen tasks were as exciting as this one.
We filled our Pączki with plum butter and raspberry jelly and glazed them with sugar. Today, you can find them filled with a variety of fruit and custard, and decorated with frosting, sprinkles, chocolate and whatever the bakers’ desire. Because there are several varieties of this delicious pastry, once you find the one you really like, eating just one of them is not enough.
On days like today, we always say, ‘Oh, what the hell’ and devour the entire plate.
Since I do not remember the whole recipe of my grandmothers’, over time, I tried several variations to come up with something I would like. It is not easy, but this one I am sharing is the closest thing.
Just remember, sometimes, substituting the original ingredient with a healthier alternative isn’t always healthier at all, and only compromises the taste. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
Pączki, the Polish doughnut, only better!
Pączki are traditionally fried in oil or lard, but you can also bake them in the oven. For best results, use eggs and oils that are room temperature.
- 1 pckg active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 3 1/2 cup flour all purpose
- 1/3 cup butter softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 whole egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or Rum
- 1/4 cup Rum or Vanilla extract
- Lard or shortening ( or oil) for frying
- Plum or raspberry preserves for filling
- Powdered sugar for topping
Dissolve yeast in water and set aside. In a large bowl mix butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add the whole egg, followed by the egg yolks one at a time.
Add rum and dissolved yeast and salt. Beat until well mixed. Switch to the dough hook attachment, and slowly add the flour while mixing.
Knead on low speed until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If kneading by hand, knead for about 10 minutes or when the dough is no longer lumpy and binds easily.
Place dough in a well-buttered bowl. Cover with linen cloth or towel and let rise until the volume doubles, about one hour. Depending on room temperature, you may need to wait longer.
Flip risen dough onto floured surface and roll to 1/2 inch thickness.
Using an upside-down glass or round cutter cut rounds and continue re-rolling and cutting dough until it is all used.
Place rounds onto a lightly floured cookie sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about a half hour.
Fry in hot oil or lard for about 2 1/2 minutes per side or until golden brown. When fried, remove to paper-towel-lined cookie sheet and immediately sprinkle with powdered sugar.
When cooled, fill the Pączki with plum preserves using a pastry bag.
* Instead of powder sugar coating, you can also make a sugar glaze. ( my favorite and better choice).
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted to remove any lumps.
3 to 4 tablespoons milk or water ( warm)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (optional)
Place the sugar in a medium bowl and slowly stir in the milk and vanilla, a little at a time, to make a smooth, pourable glaze.
You can dip the pastry or pour over individual Pączki. Optional orange zest topping gives extra flavor.