Polish Pączki (Doughnuts) Recipe

Fat Thursday
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    51 min
Ratings (18)

In the United States, Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is the day to indulge before Lent begins.

In many parts of Eastern Europe, however, Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Lent) heralds the winding down of Carnival season and that's when fried foods like pączki are eaten with abandon.

In Poland, this is known as Tłusty Czwartek. Polonia in America celebrates Pączki Day on Fat Tuesday. In Poland, that's the day for herring to be consumed in great quantities. Herring Day is known as Śledziówka.

Pączki (POHNCH-kee) are fried rounds of yeast dough with rosehip, prune, apricot, strawberry, raspberry or sweet cheese filling. My busia made them without filling and rolled them in granulated sugar. For less of a calorie load, try Baked Pączki. Here are more pączki recipes.

Freeze leftover egg whites and save them for leftover egg white recipes.

What You'll Need

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk (no warmer than 110 degrees)
  • 2 packages active dry yeast (remember to proof yeast before you begin)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) room-temperature butter
  • 1 large room-temperature egg
  • 3 large room-temperature egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or rum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 gallon oil for deep frying
  • Granulated sugar (optional)
  • Confectioners' sugar (optional)
  • Fruit paste or jam for filling (optional)

How to Make It

    1. Add yeast to warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in egg, egg yolks, brandy or rum, and salt until well-incorporated.
       
    2. Still using the paddle attachment, add 4 1/2 cups flour alternately with the milk-yeast mixture and beat for 5 or more minutes by machine and longer by hand until smooth. My grandmother used to beat the dough with a wooden spoon until it blistered. The dough will be very slack. If too soft, add remaining 1/2 cup flour, but no more.
       
    3. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 hours or follow this quick tip to cut the rise time. Punch down and let rise again.
       
    4. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat or roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut rounds with 3-inch biscuit cutter. Remove scraps, and re-roll and re-cut. Cover and let rounds rise until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes or longer.
       
    5. Heat oil to 350 degrees in large skillet or Dutch oven. Place pączki top-side down (the dry side) in the oil a few at a time and fry 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Flip them over and fry another 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot so the exterior doesn't brown before the interior is done. Test a cool one to make sure it's cooked through. Adjust cooking time and oil heat accordingly.
       
    6. Drain pączki on paper towels or brown paper bags, and roll in granulated sugar while still warm. You can poke a hole in the side of the pączki and, using a pastry bag, squeeze in a dollop of the filling of choice. Then dust filled pączki with granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar or flat icing.
       
    7. Pączki don't keep well, so gobble them up the same day you make them or freeze.
  • Note: Always use caution when working with hot oil, especially around children. Have a fire extinguisher designed for grease fires at the ready.