Monday, February 27, 2012


Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Paczki is one of my favorite pre-Lenten guilty pleasure. Perhaps, it is my only pre-Lenten guilty pleasure. Derived from a tradition of strict Polish Catholics where they use up excess fat, sugar, and fruit in preparation for Lent, things that are not allowed during this holy season, preparing paczki is one way of getting rid of such excesses. They are usually prepared the day before Ash Wednesday and are consumed right away. This tradition is very common mostly in the Midwest but it is slowly gaining ground all over the country. My groupmate Jeff used to be the harbinger of such delightful treats being of Polish origin and it was a good way for me to remember that I had to fast and abstain the next day. Having gone our own separate ways after graduate school, him staying on at Michigan with his wife and their little girl, I moved all over the country always hoping that come Fat Tuesday (day before Ash Wednesday here in the US), I will be able to find a bakery that will carry these treats. 

This year, I tried to find paczki in town and failed miserably. Even Walmart which carried them last year did not have any so I settled for a small box of donuts. Having set in my mind that I wanted paczki, it seems that the only way I can have them was to make my own. And that is what I did. I was also inspired by the number of hits for my paczki post last year which means others were interested in them as well.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
The recipe I'm using is based on a recipe from the website and after reading the comments on the website for the posted recipe, I decided to give it a try. Having learned from my previous experiment making paczki that the dough is the secret to this delightful treat, I had to make sure that I don't mess up this second time around. The dough is allowed to rise three times since the starter dough or sponge as it is referred to in the recipe is also allowed to rise until doubled in volume. It is a rather unusual way of preparing a dough but it worked out well since the paczki came out really moist and soft. I also had to resort to using lard instead of butter so the texture is a bit denser but I actually liked it.

Paczki - Adapted*

Starter Dough or Sponge:
1 cup milk
4 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp warm water
1 cup flour, sifted

1. Heat the milk in a small pot until it reaches 110°F.

2. In a bowl, combine the yeast with the sugar and warm water and mix
    well. Add the milk when at temperature and sift the flour over the
    mixture. Mix well and cover with clingfilm. Set aside in a warm place
    until doubled in volume.

5 cups flour, sifted
5 large eggs
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (or lard), softened
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt

1. In your mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the eggs with the
    confectioner's sugar and beat at high until thick and lemon-colored.

2. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the risen sponge mix and
    beat at medium speed just until combined. Add the butter or lard and
    beat for a minute to incorporate into the sponge mix. Add the orange
    zest, rum, vanilla extract and salt and beat for another minute just to

3. At low speed, slowly add the flour and continue to beat until all the
    flour has been added. Switch the paddle attachment to the dough hook
    attachment and at medium speed, knead the dough until it all comes
    together and comes away from the side of the mixer bowl.

4. Transfer the dough to a greased bowl  and seal with clingfilm. Allow to
     rise until doubled in size in a warm area. This took about 3 hours.

5. Once risen, divide the dough in three parts. Pat down the dough gently
    until about 1/2 inch in thickness. Using a small inverted glass, cut out
    the dough rounds and transfer the paczki dough onto a baking sheet
    lined with parchment paper. Continue to do the same for the rest of
    the dough. Knead the cut portions and do the same until every piece of
    dough have been cut out into rounds.

6. Allow the dough to double in size in the baking sheets covered with a
    clean dishtowel.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
7. Once the dough have
    risen a second time,
    heat the oil to 280° to
    300°F and fry the dough
    in batches. Take care
    not to overfry them.
    Drain the fried paczki in
    paper towels. Once
    cooled, fill them with
    your choice of filling
    and either glaze with a
    sugar frosting or dust
    with confectioner's

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
To fill the paczki, poke the paczki with a skewer and move it around to make room for the filling. I used a double recipe of pastry cream using heavy cream instead of milk to achieve a thicker filling. I divided the pastry cream into three and flavored one with chocolate and another one with espresso. I also used homemade raspberry jelly as the fourth filling but you can buy them in the grocery stores as well. I dusted the raspberry filled-paczki with confectioner's sugar while I topped the espresso pastry cream-filled  and chocolate pastry cream-filled paczki with a sugar glaze flavored with espresso. The plain pastry cream-filled paczki were topped with a chocolate glaze.

Espresso Sugar Glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tbsp water
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso powder

Combine and mix well until a smooth spreadable glaze is achieved. Use right away.

Chocolate Glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp unsalted butter

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl and heat in a microwave for 30 seconds or until the butter and chocolate has melted. Do not overheat in the microwave or the chocolate will seize. Use the glaze while warm.


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