One of the most loved foods from the spectre of Polish cuisine are pączki or donuts, that are eaten on during Fat Thursday or on a Shrove or Fat Tuesday, the last days before lent.
All About the Polish Cuisine Pączki for Shrove Tuesday or Fat Thursday Before Lent
Donuts... One of the best foods the world as we know it has to offer. Bread, sugar, sweet filling, grease... they may sound awfully unhealthy but they sure are delicious!
Now imagine a holiday – or, a tradition more likely, that makes it okay to stuff your face with as many donuts as you want. Fat Thursday, or Tlusty Czwartek, really does exist, and is celebrated in many cultures around the world, but most especially, in Poland. It is a day people enjoy themselves by eating pączki, a Polish version of donuts, of a bit fuller dough and with jam filling.
As Christian Easter always falls on different dates, but always the same days of the week, Fat Thursday occurs six days before the beginning of Lent or before Ash Wednesday (a holy day of prayer). As lent is a time of fasting and abstinence, this is the last day that you can enjoy such foods as paczki – so why not make a feast out of it! Days before lent begins are often celebrated in different cultures – we all know of carnival, especially the Rio Carnival, and you might’ve heard of Mardi Grass or on a Fat Tuesday, a similar custom falling on the very last day before lent, where instead of donuts, you would celebrate by eating pancakes. Another practical reason for this day was that it made it easier to get rid of sugar, eggs, fruit and foods which you wouldn’t otherwise be able to use up days before lent.
Pączki are not the only food you can eat to feel like celebrating Tlusty Czwartek. Actually, anything fatty and sweet is considered okay, and people also often eat another polish cuisine staple called faworki (dough finger-like sweet covered with powdered sugar) or even placki (a kind of potato pancakes,served with sour cream). As this is the last time you can enjoy meals forbidden during lent, and especially so in preparations for Easter and the holy week, make paczki a dessert that will follow such specialties of Polish food as: kotlet schabowy (as you should abstain from meat), sour rye soup (containing hard boiled eggs), pierogi (often containing fried onions). If it’s any consolation, polish cuisine staple pickled cucumbers can stay on the menu even throughout the Lenten fast.
Interestingly, paczki are not new news. They have been around for as long as Middle Ages, and their roots take back even to the Roman times.Their recipe was supposedly improved thanks to the French pastry chefs who came to Poland, and these are the donuts we know now.
Fat Thursday is celebrated widely in Polish communities around the world and in the United States. Some areas even create pączki-eating contests! Although you can buy traditional paczki from Polish shops across the United States, if you find it more convenient, you can celebrate the day by getting any type of donut that you come across. Also, you can decide to make the day more special and make your own!
Here is a simple recipe for you to try out. It does take some time to prepare, about an hour and a half, depending on how much time you’re used to spend in the kitchen, so why not make a fun time out of it, inviting your family or friends to join in, especially since it’s so rewarding!
You can fry pączki or bake them in the oven. We suggest you opt for the second choice, just because it’s healthier and a bit safer that way.
What you’ll need:
Now, let’s get to work!
Pour the first round of flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a large bowl, then stir adding oil, egg yolks and vanilla. Using an electric mixer, mix everything together until the mass is consistent. Then, add some more flour until you see that the dough holds together.
Then, take the dough out and knead until it’s not sticking to your fingers anymore. Put it in foil and let rest for about ten minutes.
Then, take the dough and roll it so it’s about half an inch thick. Cut circles (you can use a bowl, a cup or a cutter for measure). Keep going until you’re out of dough.
Once you’re done, place the circles on a baking sheet on a pan, cover with a towel and then let rise for about an hour. You can get your oven started in about half an hour – preheat it to 375° F.
While you wait, you can also prepare butter by melting it, and pour sugar into a bowl or on a surface that is easy to clean.
When your circles become puffy, you can put them in the oven and bake for about ten minutes.
Once your circles have become pączki in the oven, remove them from the pan and place them on a plate or anything you have for that purpose. Brush them with melted butter and roll them with sugar. Then shake the excess off.
How do you fill pączki, you may ask? Just pierce them using a pastry bag and fill them with a filling of your choice. Traditionally, plum jam would be used, but you can get creative if you want to. Also, it’s fun to know that not eating a donut is considered to bring you bad luck, and finding a donut with a nut or almond inside will bring you good fortune.
Smacznego! We hope you have a fun pączki day!