Paczki are Polish donuts typically made on Fat Tuesday. Enough said.
Make this the 12,000th reason I’m glad I married the Mr. If it weren’t for him, I may never have known the glories of Strawberry Paczki. Apparently these donuts were quite popular where he grew up in Michigan, and when we first got married he spent many hours raving about them.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before I tell you about these powdered sugar dusted pillows of fried dough, let’s get one thing out of the way. It’s pronounced PONCH-key, which is what your belly will have after eating one of these.
Paczki are actually Polish donuts typically made on Fat Tuesday as a way of getting rid of all the goodies one would normally forego for Lent (sugar, butter, eggs…basically everything I love). If you’re wondering whether paczki are healthy for you, that should give you an idea of the answer.
There’s nothing quite like Paczki. It starts with a fluffy yeasted donut batter that gets perfectly golden and just a tad crispy on the outside. But what makes Paczki really special is the filling. Chocolate, custards, and fruit fillings all give a surprise burst of flavor to these donuts, but our favorite by far is classic strawberry jam.
Last year, we spent the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday scouring the web for local bakeries that make Paczki. At the last minute, I managed to find one, and I made the drive in after-work traffic to snag a few for the Mr. This year, I figured I’d skip the crowds and try making them myself.
While not difficult per se, this recipe is labor intensive and requires several steps, so I decided to break it down for you with pictures. This step-by-step photo thing is a new thing I’m trying. Let me know if you like it.
One note before we get started. The original recipe for this used grams to measure the flour. I have a kitchen scale so I was able to measure it out in grams, but I also measured out cups and included those measurements as well. One important note: when you’re measuring your flour, spoon it into your measuring cup with a scoop or Tablespoon until overflowing, then level with a knife or bamboo stick (I hoard these from Chinese restaurants. So handy!) Don’t dunk your measuring cup in the flour then level. You’ll end up with a lot more flour packed in that way and your measurements will be off. Make sense?
Okay, let’s do this!
The dough starts with a yeast starter. First, you’ll whisk together yeast, lukewarm milk, sugar, and a little flour. It will resemble pancake batter. You let that mixture sit for an hour until it nearly doubles in size. As you can see, mine started at around 2 cups and ended around 4. The batter will be sorta frothy/foamy, like the top of your cappuccino.
Once the starter is frothy, add the eggs and sugar to your stand mixer and beat them with the whisk attachment until frothy.
Add in the starter and 3 Tablespoons of flour and beat until well combined. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the rest of the flour mixture in about 1/2 cup increments, beating well after each addition. The dough is ready when it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. It should be tacky, but shouldn’t stick to your finger when touched. You may need to beat in a few more Tablespoons of flour if it’s still sticky.
Cover the dough and let it rest for an hour. It will nearly double in size.
Lightly flour a baking sheet. Grab about a 1/4 cup portion of dough and roll it into a ball in your hands. Repeat with remaining dough. You can see my dough wasn’t entirely uniform and it didn’t look particularly smooth. That’s okay, it’ll smooth out as it rests. Allow the dough balls to rest for 30 minutes while you heat the frying oil in a deep sauce pan to 375 degrees.
After letting the individual donuts rest, drop them in the hot oil and fry for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown. I usually cut open the first one just to make sure they’re getting cooked clear through. If they’re not, fry for longer. If they’re burning on the outside and underbaked on the inside, you can turn down the heat and let the oil cool slightly.
Remove the donuts to a paper towel lined plate. When they’re cool enough to touch, use a knife to poke a small hole from one side to the other. I like to twist it around slightly to make sure there is enough space for the filling. Fill a piping bag with strawberry jam, insert the tip into the donut and squeeze until the jam starts to pool at the top. Repeat with remaining donuts.
Here’s where it gets really good.
Roll the donuts in granulated sugar.
….Then cover them with a generous (and by generous I mean irresponsibly thick) layer of powdered sugar.
Eat. Repeat. It is Fat Tuesday, after all.
Do you have any Fat Tuesday traditions? Are you wanting to pick some up? Our #SundaySupper team has over 50 ideas for getting the most out of this holiday. Be sure to check them out below the recipe!
- For the starter:
- 2½ teaspoons instant yeast
- ¾ cup or 100 grams flour
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1¼ cups milk, warm but not hot
- For the donuts:
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 cups or 400 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon real lemon juice
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- Vegetable Oil for frying
- 1 cup strawberry jam or other filling of your choice
- Granulated sugar
- Powdered sugar
- To make the starter, whisk together the yeast, flour, sugar, and milk in a large measuring cup. The mixture should resemble pancake batter. Set the mixture aside for 1 hour until it's frothy and doubled in size.
- For the donuts:
- Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk until frothy. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, and salt and whisk. Switch to the paddle attachment. Add the starter and 3 Tablespoons of the flour and beat until smooth. Add the rest of the flour in about ½ cup increments, beating well after each addition. The dough is ready when it begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and is tacky, but doesn't stick to your fingers. Add the butter at the very end and beat until just combined.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Dust a baking sheet with flour. Grab about a ¼ cup portion of dough and roll it into a ball in your hands. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover the dough balls and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot to 375 degrees. Drop the dough into the hot oil 3-4 at a time and fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Use tongs to remove the donuts and place them on a paper towel lined plate. I usually cut it into the first one to make sure it's cooked all the way through. If it's not, increase the time in the oil. If it's browning too quickly, turn the heat down.
- When the donuts are cool enough to touch, use a knife to poke a small hole from one side to the other. I like to twist it around slightly to make sure there is enough space for the filling. Fill a piping bag with strawberry jam, insert the tip into the donut and squeeze until the jam starts to pool at the top. Repeat with remaining donuts.
- Fill a shallow bowl with granulated sugar and roll the donuts in the sugar. Sift powdered sugar over top of the donuts. Serve warm or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from Beyond the Plate
It’s a Fat Sunday Party!
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