A Dessert Worth Sharing

And by sharing, we don’t just mean sharing the recipe here, but actually sharing the dessert with family and friends. It’s far too dangerous to keep too many of these lying about the house! At least it would have been for us. So what is the dessert that earned the coveted 4 spoon vote all around (400 spoons from each of the kids in fact)? It’s the Paczki!
paczki ingredients

A few weeks ago, Miss A announced that she was ready to start cooking around the world again. It had been a while what with the whole Chopped Challenge thing. I asked her if she had a country in mind for our next culinary adventure and she announced it would be Poland. Mike then instantly suggested that we make the Polish dough nuts, paczkis. butter and sugar

The timing worked out perfectly. Paczkis are traditionally eaten in Poland on Fat Thursday (the Thursday before Lent). It was a way for families to use up the lard, sugar and eggs which was forbidden by Catholic fasting during Lent. Here in the states, and especially Chicago, paczki are more commonly eaten on Fat Tuesday (the Tuesday before Lent). In fact, here in the Chicago area, Fat Tuesday is more commonly known as Paczki Day; and wouldn’t you know that’s in two days! creaming butter and sugar

We’ve never once had a paczki. Nor have we ever come close to attempting to make dough nuts – particularly given my history of unsuccessfully working with yeast. So needless to say, I was nervous. proofing yeast

The sous chefs were a big help preparing the dough. Mr. N managed the proofing of the yeast, while Miss A worked on the dough ingredients. It’s a simple combination of butter, sugar, milk, yeast, salt, flour, eggs and a bit of rum. eggs and rum

The dough came together very easily in the stand mixer. It was soft and springy. paczki dough

Most importantly, though, it rose. My dough actually rose! This was the first victory and it made me much more hopeful. first rise

After the first rise, the dough gets punched down and then set aside to rise again. You can guess who was more than willing to punch the dough. punch the dough

After the dough rose yet again (another little victory), we rolled it out to a 1/2-inch thickness. rolling dough

Next we cut the rounds using a 3-inch biscuit cutter.
paczki rounds

Miss A loved smashing the leftover scraps and rolling it out again. I believe we ended up with 27 paczki rounds.
smashing dough

We then set the rounds aside for the final dough rise of about 30 minutes; and guess what? They rose again! paczki dough rounds

Now for the fun part, or as I told Mr. N, “Time to make the dough nuts!” Mike was right, I had wanted to use that line all day! We heated a gallon of oil to 350F. The thermometer is important to maintain the temperature (especially if you’re like me and afraid of heating oil!). thermometer

The paczki rounds are placed top-side down in the hot oil and fried for two to three minutes, or until golden brown. We fried just a few at a time to make flipping easier.
frying dough nuts

Then we flipped them over to fry the other side. So far so good! golden brown paczki

After another minute or so on the remaining side, we carefully removed the paczki and placed them on paper towels to drain. While they drained, Mike filled half the batch with a lemon custard filling by cutting a small hole in the side of the dough nut and squeezing the filling through a ziplock bag. Although we chose a lemon custard filling, paczkis can be made with a variety of jellies, jams and custards. The most traditional of fillings is the plum jam or rose hip jam.filling the dough nuts

Finally we rolled the dough nuts in granulated sugar (both the filled and unfilled paczkis) before serving. sugar dough nuts

The paczkis are best served the day they are made, which definitely was not going to be a problem for us. Paczki Day

We stood in amazement looking at the paczkis. They actually turned out exactly as planned! Not only did they look great, they tasted just like a dough nut! We decided that these little Polish dough nuts now hold a special place in our recipe hall of fame (reserved for seemingly hard recipes that not only turn out well, but are enjoyed all around). We currently have two such dishes in this esteemed category – the paczkis and our baklawa. Both are sure to be made again and again. paczkis

Needless to say, the paczki were a hit. We each had to sample both a lemon custard filled paczki and a plain paczki. They were equally delicious – light and airy on the inside and deliciously sugary on the outside. As we were licking our fingers we decided we had to share the rest of the dough nuts or we would find ourselves in some deep trouble. So we set a few aside for the next morning and packaged the rest up for the kids to deliver to the neighbors. fat tuesday paczkis

The best compliment and testament to our adventure came from one of our neighbors. As he and Mike were outside shoveling today, he told Mike, “Hey, those weren’t dough nuts you brought over. Those were paczkis!” fat thursday paczkis

All the neighbors greatly enjoyed the paczki, as did we again this morning. I’m very thankful they are all gone now though. These little devils would seriously derail our healthy eating.

Print this recipe: Polish Paczki
Polish Paczkis

Now that we’ve had our very first paczki, we highly suggest enjoying one this Tuesday. Many bakeries and churches in our area will be selling them this week, but you can make them at home too! Have a great Fat Tuesday everyone. We’ll be back next week with another Polish recipe selected by Miss A. Mardi Gras-Paczki

33 comments on “A Dessert Worth Sharing

  1. Oh, this blog (and this post) are just delightful! I’m smiling and smiling, scrolling through your cooking adventures. My son is grown now, and we STILL have delicious food adventures! It’s truly one of the most wonderful gifts a family can give each other, I believe. Love your 3 spoon 4 spoon (and 5 spoon!) ratings too.

  2. I am late to comment but I just found your site, the donuts looks delicious! It’s great to have the kids in the kitchen, they will always remember that time with you! And who know, maybe one of them will become a chef.

    If you and your children like chocolate, check out my recent post, Hot Fudge Cake.
    Michael ;-)

    http://michaelswoodcraft.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/hot-fudge-sauce-chocolate-cake-and-ice-cream/

  3. tribw says:

    oh this looks so delicious! really want to try it!

  4. Charles says:

    Fat Thursday… haha, I love the name! What a fantastic effort considering they’re your first try! I can totally understand why one would want to share these. I’ve had stuff like this in the house before and I want to offload it as soon as possible. Not just because it’s darned unhealthy to eat too much of, but also because I had way too much to eat while it was still fresh and good. May as well share the love with everyone else, right?

    Really looking forward to seeing your next Polish recipe!

  5. ibtisam says:

    they look perfect

  6. Whoa, at first try, your paczki look amazing!!!!! Being afraid of using yeast, I’d be crying if my dough rise beautifully like yours! I’ve never had these but had seen before and would definitely try when I get a chance. I have a feeling both your children will be very good cook when they are old. Having hands on experience is amazing. It reminds me to involve my own more too. :)

  7. Thanveer says:

    Looks Delicious!! Wonderful to see Kids are Preparing it!! and By the way your photography skills are awesome!! Congratulations

  8. Living here in Hong Kong, I completely forgot about celebrating Fat Tuesday and Marti Gras. Your paczki look amazing I am sure they were easily devoured on the same day made. Your little helpers look very enthusiastic about this project and with 4 spoons this was surely a winner.

  9. Happy Belated Fat Tuesday! I was hoping to make pancakes and still may this coming weekend. I love the look of your paczkis though, they’re way more fun! sometimes I think I need to buy a deep fat fryer.. but that could be so dangerous around here! I forget we can fry like you did, in a deep pot with a thermometer. What do you do with the oil, is it reused for other recipes? It would taste awfully yummy:)xx

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Smidge – that would have been a fabulous idea. I didn’t think of it though. We just let the oil cool down and poured it into a container before disposing of it. I should look into recycling the oil somehow. :)

  10. I am pretty sure I should not try making these as they look delicious…..

  11. These look to die for! You are so right about getting those babies out of the house fast…to save yourselves. ;) Your kids are both growing up so much since I last checked in here. Gosh, time flies whether or not you are having fun it turns out. Have a great weekend.

  12. Raymund says:

    I agree it is worth sharing! that looks exactly how Filipinos make sugar donuts without the filling of course

  13. afellowsapient says:

    They sure do look yummy! And I’m hungry. They do look inviting.

  14. huntfortheverybest says:

    i love doughnuts. they look great!

  15. its like an even better beignet! Oh my I am in heaven with these. Yes so glad you shared they look amazing! I can’t believe you attempted packzi but you are making me think I actually can as well! LOl!

  16. ChgoJohn says:

    Way to go, Chef Family!!! Paczkis. I’m impressed. Yours look like the real thing and, with 4 spoons, must taste like the real thing, too. You’re right, too, that tomorrow is Paczki Day, although I doubt I’ll get any. I never make it to a bakery in time. I guess I’ll have to settle and get some Krispy Kremes. Darn! ;)

  17. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Love the Mardi Gras mask Miss A! Great thematics. Wow… these doughnuts are really something — they look fantastic!! (professional even). Your dough rose beautifully Kristy and I’m really liking the idea of the lemon filling in some of these treats. With scores of 4 spoons all-around and your neighbour recognizing the famed paczkis, these sound like a raging success too. Congrats. What a fun way to share Shrove Tuesday with us! (reading the post alone might be the subject of confession for me ;-) ).

  18. These look really great. I don’t think I have ever had the pleasure of trying this treat (even though they do sound a little bit like donuts), but they look like something I would love! I’m not a huge fan of lemon desserts, but the rose hip jam seems intriguing.

  19. Those look amazing! You are a hero. I’d never dare make those at home.

  20. Eva Taylor says:

    I was very excited for you as soon as I saw the Fleischmann’s package! Congratulations on your amazing success, they look wonderful. We call that day Shrove Tuesday, and in fact it’s tradition to serve pancakes! I’m so pleased for you that this yeast recipe worked out. I hope you try some others now that you’ve conquered this challenge.

  21. Karen says:

    I can certainly see why the paczki would garner 4 spoons from each of you. Wish I had one to go along with the cup of tea I’m having right now. :)

  22. sallybr says:

    Well, well, well, I think I gained 2.9 pounds reading this post, which means I shall now do a double session of plyometrics and then some serious abdominal workout

    amazing recipe, the interesting thing is that back in Brazil this type of pastry was common when I was growing up, but I cannot remember what they were called and in which neighborhood they were normally sold. I should show this post to my friends and see what they say about it

    of course, Brazil is closed for Carnival now, no one will read my emails until Wed past noon ;-)

  23. Fabulous! We have something similar called vetkoek (http://thecompletecookbook.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/vetkoek-2/), nothing to do with lent just scrumptious. I love the idea of filling them. Think I shall have to try that soon.
    Have a happy week Kristy. :-) Mandy xo

  24. hotlyspiced says:

    Miss A looks gorgeous in orange and I love how involved she is in the kitchen – she certainly was giving that dough a decent punch! I’ve never had these but today I met a woman from Poland. She had such a thick accent I could hardly understand her but I’d like to try some cuisine from her country xx

  25. Marilyn says:

    Kristy, what a great family post. Love doughnuts and the pictures are amazing. Miss A really took this one very seriously and must have had a blast.

    Marilyn/Nana

  26. A_Boleyn says:

    Congratulations on your successful paczki making. I decided not to place an order for a dozen mixed filling paczkis at the bakery this year, as I’ve got to watch my weight, but I kind of wish I had after seeing yours. :)

  27. Dawn says:

    Congratulations on your first dough rising!! These looks amazing!!

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