Happy Fat Tuesday!
Paczki are a traditional deep-fried Polish doughnut, typically topped with powdered sugar or icing and filled with fruit preserves or a custard. Here in the Midwest, paczki are consumed heavily the day before Lent to celebrate the traditional attempt to use up any eggs, lard, sugar and fruit which are forbidden during the Catholic fasting season.
Every year on Fat Tuesday, my coworker brings us paczki from a local bakery. Since I’m on maternity leave this year and will not be at work to consume one of these delectable delights, I decided to try my hand at making my own. After searching the Internet for a tried and true paczki recipe, I found that they are very scarce. I finally found one on a forum at Epicurious that came from someone’s Polish grandmother.
This really wasn’t all that labor intensive as others had warned. I used my brand new cast iron skillet that Ben bought me for Valentine’s Day (yes, I DO think that’s romantic!) for frying the dough. The only negative thing that comes to mind when making these is that you really can’t keep rolling out the dough and cutting more doughnuts after your first batch. I found it affects the texture of the paczki. Just throw away the scraps instead of trying to roll it back out. Yes, it will seem like a lot of dough is going to waste, but it won’t fry well anyway. You will get about a dozen good doughnuts.
It’s difficult to find these in other places. My friend who recently moved from Detroit to Nashville expressed she is having a hard time finding them, so this also motivated me to post a good recipe. Go ahead and give these a try. You’ll definitely have them perfected by next year’s Fat Tuesday and will be able to WOW all your friends. And, if you live anywhere but the Midwest, learn to make these and you will become great friends with your native Midwest neighbors who probably miss the luxury of buying these locally.
- 1 package (1/4 oz) yeast
- 2 cups warm whole milk (110?-115?F)
- 5 egg yolks plus one whole egg
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 – 7 cups all-purpose flour
- vegetable oil for frying
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, stir yeast in the warm milk. Add 2 cups of the flour. Mix and let stand about 1/2 hour, until very bubbly.
In the meantime, beat the egg yolks and whole egg until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).
To the proofed yeast, add the melted butter, sugar, salt and vanilla one at a time. Add beaten eggs and mix until well blended. Switch to the dough hook and slowly add the rest of the flour to the bowl and knead on low speed until a very soft dough forms. You may not use all of the flour.
Cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 2 hours).
When the dough has doubled, uncover and punch down. Pat dough onto a floured work surface, down to 1/2 inch.
Using a cookie cutter, glass, or doughnut cutter, gently cut circles and place on parchment paper lined baking sheets. Wax paper may also be used. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
Heat oil in cast iron skillet, deep fryer, or dutch oven to 350?F. Working with 3 to 4 at a time, drop doughnuts into the oil and fry on one side until golden brown. Turn over and fry the other side until golden brown. Using tongs, remove the fried doughnuts and drain on paper towels. Let cool completely, then sprinkle with powdered sugar or desired icing. You may also cut them in half and fill with your choice of custard or fruit preserves before topping with the powdered sugar.
Source: Adapted from Epicurious forum user cynthy123