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Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)

Traditional jelly-filled donut treat for Polish Paczki Day.
Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)

Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

You’ve heard of Dunkin’ Donuts? What about Drunken Donuts? Polish pączki  are a traditional pre-Lenten treat usually served  on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday (Shrove Thurday-Tłusty Czwartek ) in Poland and Polish communities.

What is Shrove Thursday?

Shrove Thursday, also called Fat Thursday, is a Polish version of Mardis Gras, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. With sweets abstained during Lent, it is customary to enjoy these jelly donuts, the way some might enjoy Beignets.

What is the difference between a paczki and a donut?

Essentially a paczki is a jelly donut made with an egg-enriched dough. The drunken part  comes in when a little vodka is added to the dough to inhibit the development of gluten. This keeps the dough more tender and soft.

How do you say Paczki?

(paunch-key) But if you say punchky, or even “that sugar coated thingy there”, people will understand.

Anyway. About donut making- I will tell you a few things, since being a donut girl was the very first paid job I had in my life. I have filled countless jelly donuts. And every other kind of donut known to mankind.

About the jelly- you are going to be dumping it into a bowl and smooshing it in your hands. Do be certain to wash your hands first (who knows where those hands have been?) Of course, you could use disposable gloves, but where’s the fun in that? And while you are smooshing and cursing me,  remember,  you were not the one that had to smoosh five gallons of  extremely cold jelly fresh off the truck in January. That was bone chilling cold, not to mention gross.  But such is the life of a cinder girl, er, I mean,  donut girl.(Cinderella, if that one went over your head like a Boeing 787).

Then comes the filling part. I used to use a steel hopper or pitcher pump with a lever and a long tube. We’d fill everything from bismarcks to long johns, jelly to custard. At home, you will be using the filling tip and a pastry bag or pastry gun, with the filling tip being the long slender one as long as your finger with the round end. Do be sweet and use jelly instead of jam.   I know you’re thinking jam sounds SO nice, but the bits can clog up the tip and make you curse. You don’t want to curse while making donuts. Donuts are happy  food.

Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)

Bill asked me “how do you know when you have enough in”? It’s quite simple, really. You stick the tip in and start filling. As you start to feel the donut expand, start pulling the tip out while continuing to fill. If you don’t, the donut will explode in your hand. That’s okay,  I did it once or twice many years ago. If the tip starts to spurt, pull it out and pack the jelly in the bag/gun so there isn’t air. We know it sounds really funny when the jelly is blowing bubbles, and your kids will be extremely entertained by it. But you don’t want to be the guy that gets ripped off of jelly. Also, as you pull the tip out, keep holding the donut over a bowl  since if you overfilled it, some jelly will naturally come out. Kids find that entertaining too. And a few adults.

Anyway, other than that, making donuts is really quite a bit easier than making dinner rolls. It doesn’t really matter what you cut them with- just not the ring donut cutter with the hole in the middle. Jelly won’t like that. Depending what size cutter you use, you will get varying numbers of donuts. I used a 4-inch ring mold to cut mine and got 15, plus a little extra which I rolled into a strip, then twisted, pinching the ends together. Even though much smaller, they all seem to cook in the same amount of time.

Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)

Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)

  • Servings: 15
  • Time: 1hr 45mins
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)
Ingredients:

  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 cups whole milk, warmed to 115°F.
  • 10g (tiny bit over 1 tbsp) vanilla flavored vodka
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup melted butter, cooled to room temperature
  • 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • cooking oil
  • powdered sugar (several cups sifted)
  • 12 ounces strawberry jelly (or other flavor)(can also use lemon curd or vanilla pudding or custard)

Method:

  1. Combine yeast, milk, vodka, egg yolks, egg, sugar, salt, melted butter and flour in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  2. Mix until dough comes together away from the sides, but is still a little bit sticky.
  3. Cover mixer bowl with plastic wrap in a warm, draft-free place and let the dough double in size, about one hour.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat out with your fingers, adding a little flour if necessary on the surface, until it is about half inch thick.
  5. Turn oven on low for five minutes them turn it off.
  6. Cut circles of dough out and place on a parchment paper sprayed with nonstick oil lined baking sheet.
  7. Place the baking sheets in the oven (OVEN TURNED OFF!) and allow to proof/rise, for thirty minutes.
  8. As soon as you start proofing the donuts, heat oil halfway in a dutch oven to 350°F.
  9. When oil is hot and donuts have risen again, gently drop them in the oil and cook 45 seconds to one minute on each side, using chopsticks to flip them.
  10. Lift donuts out with a spider or other flat strainer and allow to cool completely on wire cookie racks set over paper bags (bags to catch any oil drips). Make sure the donuts are cold before you fill or sugar.
  11. Fill donuts using a filling tip on a pastry bag filled with squished jelly.
  12. Roll donuts in sifted powdered sugar, gently tapping off excess.
  13. Eat and serve as soon as possible, since they will go stale within about one day.

From the kitchen of palatablepastime.com


Pączki (Polish Jelly Donuts)

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