Lent is fast approaching and around this time of year we get alot of customers asking for paczki. We do not ship these delcious desserts, because (like doughnuts) they are best fresh!
What is paczki? Pronounced "Ponch-Kee", this traditional Polish dessert is normally made on Fat Thursday (the Thursday before Lent) in Poland and on Fat Tuesday in America. Some communities even have Paczki Day celebrations...road trip anyone?
The original idea behind it was to use up the sugar and lard in the house before Lent begins. A long standing tradition, the Polish have been making Paczki since the Middle Ages.
Most versions of Paczki have fillings - traditionally a homemade jam or prune filling - but you can fill it with whatever you like...they are particularly good with Bavarian cream.
Below is a recipe I found in an old cookbook. I have never attempted to make Paczki myself, but maybe 2010 is the year for me.
12 Egg yolks
1 Teaspoon salt
2 Packages active dry yeast
1/4 C. warm water
1/3 C. butter or margarine (room temperature)
1/2 C. Sugar
4 1/2 C. All-purpose flour
3 Tablespoons Rum or brandy
1 C. whipping cream, scalded
1 1/2 C. thick jam or preserves (optional)
Fat for deep frying
1. Beat egg yolks with salt in a small bowl until the mixture is thick and piles softly
2. Soften yeast in warm water in a large bowl
3. Cream butter; add sugar gradually until fluffy. Beat into softened yeast.
4. Stir 1/4 of the flour into the yeast mixture. Add rum and half the cream. Beat in another 1/4 of the flour. Stir in remaining cream. Add 1/4 of the flour. Beat in egg yolks. Beat 2 minutes then gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough blisters.
5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise. When the dough has doubled, punch it down. Then cover it again and let it rise again until doubled. Punch down.
6. Roll dough out on a floured surface, about 3/4 inch thick and begin to cut out your 3 inch rounds. Use a regular doughnut cutter for plain or a biscuit cutter for filled doughnuts.
7. To fill doughnuts, place 1 teaspoon full of jam in the center of half the rounds. Brush edges of rounds with water and top with remaining rounds. Seal edges.
8. Cover the doughnuts on a floured surface. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.
9. Fry doughnuts in hot fat until golden brown on both sides turning once. Drain on absorbent paper (paper bags work best!)
From here you can glaze your paczki with chocolate or sugar; you could sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar or just sugar.
Give it a try - It could be a great family activity to celebrate your heritage! Maybe you will start a new tradition. Whatever you do, just cherish the memories you make. Enjoy!