Paczki, pronounced poon-ch-key, are deep fried dough in a spherical shape filled with confiture (fancy speak for jam). And, yes, at first glance, it looks like a jelly donut. Paczki is a Polish pastry commonly eaten on Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday.
THE BACKSTORY: Basically, before the traditional fasting between Ash Wednesday and Easter, what is known as Lent, you’ve got to use up all of the good stuff in the house ie. fat, butter, flour, sugar, eggs, and apparently jam because no one can be trusted for 40 days not to cheat. As a result, celebratory feasts became a tradition and people get ” fat” from the lesser known Fat Thursday to the Fat Tuesday prior to Lent.
Paczki is made from a rich yeast dough made with the addition of eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk. Some recipes add a bit of grain alcohol is added to the dough as well which prevents the oil from soaking into the dough when frying. NOTE: try adding vodka in place of ice water into your pie crust recipe, as the alcohol evaporates, it creates a crispier, flaky texture. The trademark light line around the outer circumference of the pastry indicates proper cooking. Traditional fillings include plum or rosehip jam, but you’ll find strawberry jam, custard, and everything in between these days.
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