The Classics: Pączki (Polish Donuts)
Donuts and I have a lot in common. You see, throughout my life I have acquired more nicknames than most. My legal name is Jessica. But if you were to ask my family they would tell you that they all call me Jessie. My friends and husband would tell you they call me Jess. My Mom would tell you she calls me Jessie, Messy Jessie, Jessica Lynn, or Punkin’ (yes said exactly as it looks). My cousin Brittany would tell you that she calls me JessieCaCa…when we were little she used to torment me because I was always the easy, gullible, heart on the sleeve kid to be honest not much has changed. So being 3 months older than me, she loved to torment me. One day at school she learned that “caca” in Spanish meant “poopoo”, and at that moment I was adorned with the loving title of JessieCaCa. And yes, it has stuck. And lastly, if my Great Grandmother Irene were still alive and you asked her my name, she would tell you Jessifer. Poor Granny Irene was very old when I was born, but we had a special bond because I was born on her birthday. However, despite me being her favorite Great Grandchild, she could never get my name right. She couldn’t remember if it was Jennifer or Jessica and the woman honestly thought my name was Jessifer. She signed all of my Christmas cards Jessifer and even asked my Mom how Jessifer was doing. As the years went by, Jessifer has stuck around as some of my family’s favorite nickname for me.
So now you are thinking, “ok crazy lady…how did that have anything to do with you having anything in common with donuts?” Well donuts have a lot of names too! Some people call them DoughNuts. Some refer to them as Munchkins because that is the name Dunkin’ Donuts gave their donuts. Some people just refer to them as Krispy Kremes. In India they serve Donuts as a savory dish called Vadai. And in Poland, they call them Paczki! Paczki are a Polish tradition served during Carnival, a festive season that occurs before Lent. They are jam filled, fried dough, topped with sweet sugary sauce.
I thankfully made it through to the second round of Project Food Blog! For this round we have been challenged to make a classic from another culture. At first I thought maybe I would try to make another Indian dish like the Green Chicken Curry. But to be perfectly honest, that was pretty easy for me and I wanted to challenge myself. One of my biggest challenges is Yeast. Growing up, once a year, my Mom would bring home Paczki from the bakery…and it was always a special treat. But I have never thought about making it, because well….Yeast is evil. But I did it. And I tried one recipe twice…and it sucked. The dough would NOT rise. After my first fail, I reworked the conversion of the recipe, checked my ingredients, and retried. Again…Fail! So I did some searching…and came across another delicious recipe! It worked perfectly! I combined two recipes to come up with the final product. I liked the filling/topping style of one, with the dough recipe of another. I was so proud when I pulled these perfectly golden Paczki out of the fryer! They were absolutely delicious! I gave the rest of the Paczki to my Mom and Sister and they are already demanding me to make it again.
Pączki (Polish Donuts)
12 egg yolks
1 teaspoon salt
2 (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/3 cup room temperature butter
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup rum or 1/3 cup brandy
1 cup scalded whipping cream
Jam for filling
oil ( for deep frying, The old-timers used lard, but vegetable oil will work)
Powdered sugar and water for icing
Nuts or candied orange peel for topping, chopped
Beat egg yolks with the salt in the small bowl of an electric mixer at high speed until the mixture is thick and piles softly, about 7 minutes. Soften yeast in warm water. Cream butter, add sugar to it gradually, beating until fluffy. Slowly beat in the softened yeast. Stir one fourth of the flour into the yeast mix. Add rum/brandy and half of the cream. Beat in another fourth of the flour. Stir in remaining cream. Beat in half of the remaining flour and then the egg yolk mixture. Beat for 2 minutes.
Gradually beat in the remaining flour until the dough blisters. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set in a warm place to rise. When it has doubled in bulk, punch it down. Cover and let rise again until doubled. Punch it down again.
Transfer the dough to a board lightly dusted with flour, roll out into 1-1,3 cm thickness sheet. Using 6,5 - 7 cm cutter, cut the dough into circles, wadding up the scraps and re-rolling until all the dough is used. Place on a baking pan dusted with flour. Cover again and let it double in bulk.
Heat oil to 175 degrees C in a deep fryer or wide skillet. Test the temperature by frying a piece of bread; it should bubble and turn golden quickly. Fry 5 or 6 pączki at a time. Do not crowd as this lowers the temperature and the doughnuts will absorb too much grease. When one side is golden, flip with a fork to fry the other side. Dough will puff up in the frying. Perfect pączki are light as air. Drain on paper towels. Fill them with the jam of your choice by squirting about two teaspoons into them with a pastry bag fitted with a doughnut tip.
To make the icing, sift 1 cup icing sugar into a bowl. Mix through 2 tablespoon of water, then gradually add enough water to obtaining a mixture with a suitable consistency to spread. Spread over the doughnuts. Top each of the doughnut with candied orange peel or nuts.
Recipe adapted: Moje Wypieki