Now before you get your etouffeed panties in a bunch… I KNOW I titled this Fat THURSDAY. If you were cool like me – you would be part Polish. You would be able to drink most of your friends under the table. You would understand the importance of pirogi, and when someone starts singing “Sto lat, sto lat, niech zyje zyje nam” you would definitely know that a whole slew of good times are about to take place. You would also get to over indulge in one of my favorite holidays. Paczki Day.
Paczki, pronounced pooch-kee not Paa-zick-kee is a deep fried dough that is filled with fruit preserves or sometimes a sweet custard, and then dusted in powdered or granulated sugar. Some say they are similar to a jelly donut – but don’t kid yourself. These are rich and will stop your heart with its butter, eggs, milk and rum… Comparing it to a donut is like saying the Colts actually put up a good fight… *ducks* (Tho if you were also part German like me… and that makes you supah cool - you could compare them to a Berliner…) In Poland, and here in Chicago, Paczki’s are typically eaten on Fat THURSDAY, the last Thursday before lent, and is associated with the start of Carnival. Of course here in Chicago we over indulge and chow down on Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday as well. Traditionally, Paczkis were created to use up all of the fats, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house that you were forbidden to eat during the Catholic observance of fasting throughout Lent. Wow. Some of those years of Catholic school teachings have stuck… but yea none of the guilt…
This recipe that follows for traditional Paczki is not my mothers nor my busia’s or even something we made year after year. In truth, my mom just used to bundle me up and drag me down the block with her to the Laramie Bakery to STAND IN A VERY LONG LINE for a few dozen that were gone in a flash. But I have been making my own, adapted from a recipe that was adapted from a recipe that was adapted from a recipe… you get the point. They are yummy. And quite addictive.
Time to empty the pantry…
4 t active dry yeast
1/4 c warm water
1 t sugar
1 t salt
1/3 c butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
5 cups flour
1/3 cup rum
1 cup scalded whole milk or cream
1 1/2 c fruit preserves and / or custard
Oil or the traditional lard for deep frying.
Powdered and / or granulated sugar for dusting. Or you can make a glaze.
Get to work.
Mix the yeast, 1 t sugar and warm water together and let sit 10 minutes.
Beat the eggs with the salt till thick and creamy. Set aside.
Cream the butter and the sugar together. While your mixer is on medium, Add half the yeast. Then add the rum. If you already drank the rum, measure more rum and add. And then half the milk. Now add the rest of the yeast, and the rest of the milk. Sip more rum. When this is all incorporated, add half the flour and the eggs. Continue adding the remaining flour until the dough blisters. Drinks moar rums…
Cover and place in a warm spot. Allow to rise until doubled in size. Punch down and let rise again.
Roll out dough to a 1/2″ thickness. Cut into 3″ circles, and place on a baking sheet. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile in a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil to 375°. Fry for 2-3 minutes or until bottom is brown. Flip and fry 1-2 minutes longer. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. When cool, utilize a pastry bag with a strong tip to pipe filling of choice into Paczki. Dust with powdered or granulated sugar or glaze.
Serve immediately. They do not keep well so eat as soon as possible. Not that you will have any left overs… but if you do freeze immediately. Once you make these you will want to make them year after year. Because if you don’t, your friends and family will disown you for being such a tease…
Good Luck. Good Cheer. May you live a hundred years.