Or Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday.
Every year, I mean every year, on Fat Tuesday my family and so me would eat a wonderful Polish bakery treat called a Paczki (pronounced poonch key). What is a Paczki you ask? Well, it’s a jelly doughnut type of pastry, except so much better. The lore behind the Paczki is that the Polish people would use up all the eggs, sugar, and lard as that it was the day before Lent and they would be fasting and they weren’t allowed to be eaten.
Around Virginia Beach, there are no Paczki. Sometimes Kroger will have them, but they are basically just jelly doughnuts, nothing to write home about. This year I decided it would be different, I would make Paczki!
I set out with a recipe I found on a Polish forum:
Here’s the rundown:
6 eggs (the traditional recipe calls for 12 egg yolks, but I went this route)
4-6 cups of flour
2 packets of yeast
1/3 c. butter (room temp)
1/4 c lukewarm water (110)
1/2 c sugar
1 t of salt
1 c of heavy cream
3 T of brandy
Raspberry or strawberry preserves (tradition is prune, but I don’t like prune soo…)
Oil – I used vegetable, but peanut would work too. You want about 4 inches of oil in your pot
You start off with dissolving the yeast in 1/4 c of lukewarm water. While the yeast is dissolving,cream the butter and sugar together. (It is also important to scald and then cool your cream here) Also whip the eggs and salt until thick and creamy. Once the yeast has dissolved and is frothy, combine the yeast mixture with the butter in a large bowl.
Next, add in 2 cups of flour and the cream, beating constantly. Once combined add in the brandy, 2 more cups of flour, then finally the yolk mixture. This is where I needed a little more flour than the recipe called for. You want the dough to be in a ball and able to pick up and knead. Knead the dough until it is smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a cloth, and place in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled (an hour to hour and a half).
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down. Don’t get all UFC on it, just gently push the air out of it. Put it back in the warm spot and let rise until doubled again.
After second rise,roll out dough on floured surface to about 3/4 inch think. Using a 2 in cookie cutter, cut out as many circles as you can. Be careful with the scraps and don’t recombine too many times. This will make the dough tough and dry.
Place circles on a floured board and put a spoonful of preserve on one half, cover with another circle, pinch or crimp the edges. Once you have made as many circles as you can, place Paczki in a warm spot to double, again (1 hour).
While dough is rising, again, clean your kitchen, it will be a mess!
Once Paczki have doubled in size, start placing them in your 375 oil, only a few at a time. They cook quickly, so don’t let them get too brown, only a minute or two on each side. Take the Paczki out of the oil and onto a cooling rack with paper towel or newspaper underneath. Repeat with all Paczki.
After all the Paczki are made combine 2 cups of powdered sugar, 3T milk or water and 1/2 t of vanilla to make a glaze. You can drizzle, dunk or spoon the glaze onto the Paczki.
Now the best part! Eating!
These were pretty delicious. I kinda ran out of flour when I was mixing it altogether, so I had to improvise with a lot of different flours…they still turned out pretty well. When I make them again next year, I will make sure I have an abundance of flour!