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Standing Walrus

Paczki, Polish Jelly Donuts

These are a traditional dessert served on Fat Tuesday. Fat Tuesday is the final splurge prior to 40 days of Lent. If You were in New Orleans, you would probably have Beignets, which is a fried, yeast dough covered with a mountain powdered sugar. Of course Poland isn't France and the food happens to be quite different, but sometimes, religious traditions makes for similar customs.

These are the perfect last hurrah before Lent, are pretty easy to make, and are always a big hit. Like beignets though, they're best served warm.

Now for how to put them together. There are 2 primary methods for putting them together. One is to roll out the dough to 1/2" thick, then place some filling on one, then top it with another disc and seal well. Let them rise, then fry. The other way is to cut the disc a little thicker, let them rise, then fry, and put the filling in. On top of that, there were recipes that called for discs that were from 2" - 4" in diameter. I opted for 2 1/2" for a decent sized treat, without being too huge.

I actually made them 3 different ways. The first was with the 2 discs, and filling them prior to frying. They were almost good, but the donut ended being a little on the tough, chewy, side, and I couldn't seem to get enough filling in them. The second way was to roll the dough to about 3/4" thick, then cut them into rounds, and fill them after frying. These worked better, because I was able to get more filling in them, but they were still quite tough. The third way was to roll the dough 1/2" thick, cut them into rounds, and fill them after frying. These were the best. They puffed up during frying better than the other 2 methods, they were actually almost as high, and they were real light and airy. A WINNER!

Of course having made 3 dozen donuts, I had to take them around the dock. They went over real well, with everyone commenting on how light they were. SO that's it. If you want a truly ethnic sweet for Fat Tuesday, this is the one.



    Sponge:
  • 2 Packages Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 1 Cup Milk, warmed
  • 1 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour

    Liquid:
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Brandy

    Final Mix:
  • 4 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

    Filling and toppings:
  • Strawberry Preserves
  • Raspberry Preserves
  • Cooked and Sweetened Prunes
  • Poppyseed Filling

  • 3 Quarts Vegetable Oil, for frying

1. Make the sponge, by first gently heat the milk, it should be warm, and not hot. Too hot will kill the yeast. Mix the flour and the yeast together, then add the milk and mix well. Cover with a dish towel, and set in a warm place for at least 30 minutes.

2. Now it's time to get the liquid pat of this recipe together. Place the milk and butter in a pot over a low heat. When the butter is about 3/4 melted, turn off the heat, and swirl the pot around until the butter has finished melting. Add the sugar and brandy and stir until the sugar is melted.

3. Place about 3 1/2 cups flour in a large bowl with the salt. whisk the eggs then add them also. Add the liquid ingredients, and the sponge, and mix well adding additional flour as needed. You'll probably use all of the extra cup of flour. Knead until all of the ingredients are incorporated, put in a clean bowl, cover with a linen dish towel, and set in a warm, draft free place. Let this rise until double in bulk, about 1 hour.

4. When the dough has risen, punch it down, set it on a floured board, and divide in half. I found that working with 2 smaller pieces was a lot easier than working with one real large one. Knead each piece for about 5 minutes, then set them under a bowl to rest for another 10 minutes or so.

5. Prepare a 2 sheet pans by coating with vegetable oil. Set one of the pieces of dough on a floured rolling board, and roll to a thickness of about 1/2". Cut the dough into 2 1/2" discs and set on the oiled sheet pans. Combine the scraps, roll and continue cutting until you've used up all of the dough. Cover the sheet pans and let the discs rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Paczki, Polish Jelly Donuts Picture


6. This shows how little filling you've got room for if you try to fill them first, and the general size of the discs.
Paczki, Polish Jelly Donuts Picture


7. Fill a straight sides pan with about 3" of vegetable oil, and heat to about 375 degrees. Carefully place the risen discs in the hot oil, cook about 3 minutes (until they've browned), then flip and cook another 2 minutes or so. Place them on a rack, over another sheet pan to drain and cool a little. Continue this process until all of the Paczki are fried.
Paczki, Polish Jelly Donuts Picture


8. A picture of after you turn them over.

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