My fascination with donuts is a love-hate relationship. I love to eat them but I have never made them, fearing the long process it takes. My love for them has spawned an entire page in my journal what kind of donuts I would serve if I had my shop. Donut necklace anyone? But my fear is based on how bad they really are for you, hence I’ve always
devoured approached them with moderation.
With Fat Tuesday preceeding Ash Wednesday and marking the official start of Lent, I decided to let my donut flag fly a few days ahead and attempt to make these lovely darlings from scratch. But not any old donuts, but paczkis.
Paczkis (pronounced pooch-keys) are Polish donuts served on Fat Tuesday very much resembling their jelly-filled counterparts. In the U.S., paczkis are most commonly found in Detroit and Chicago which have large Polish communities. According to Wikipedia, paczkis are made to use up all the fat and sugar in the house — a big no-no during Lent. No wonder paczkis are famed for sometime having over 1,000 calories per a donut — all that fat and frying create one huge blubber bomb–a well deserved treat for Fat Tuesday.
The paczkis start with a rich dough made with eggs, butter and sugar and are deep fried in oil. But I also made a second, less evil version variation: baked paczkis. While both textures are similar, the fried version seemed less like a baked sweet roll and more like an authentic donut. Even the deep rich color of the fried pacazki was more appealing than the baked variety — something I’m sure could be resolved with an additional minute or two in the oven.
Filling the paczkis are simple. Cut a small slit into the pastry and fill with your choice of filling. A pastry bag also works fine if you have one on hand. While paczkis are usually filled with preserves or bavarian cream, I chose to fill mine are with peanut butter and grape jelly (an amazing combination in and of itself) and my favorite spread to date, Nutella. A sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar finishes this Polish delight.
While I won’t rush to make these again in the near future, I can finally mark off making donuts from scratch off my list of things I must do.
Makes 1 dozen
3/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees F)
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1 egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4-3 cups flour
Vegetable oil for frying (optional)
Filling of choice
Combine yeast and warm milk; set aside. In medium-sized bowl, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add eggs, rum and salt until mixed.
Add 2 1/4 cups flour alternately with the milk and yeast until smooth. Add additional 1/4 cup of flour if mixture is too wet.
Place dough in a large greased bowl. Cover and put into a dark, warm area until size is doubled. About 1 1/2-2 hours.
Punch down dough and let it rise again for an additional hour.
On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness and cut rounds. Remove scraps, reroll and cut until all the dough is used.
Transfer cut dough onto baking sheets and let rest for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F and bake for 7-9 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Fill with desired filling and shift confectioner’s sugar on top.
Pour vegetable oil in large sauce pan until half way full and heat over medium. Fry both sides of paczki for approximately 2 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Turn over and fry other side for additional minute. Drain on paper. Let cool for 5 minutes. Fill with desired filling and shift confectioner’s sugar on top.