pączki!

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I’m so happy to be back in Chicago where people actually know what Pączki Day is!  Do you know what it is?  It’s Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday.  Which is the beginning of Lent, the 40 days before Easter.  Catholic’s usually give something up as a fast.  A lot of time it’s sweets, or other indulgences.  In Europe it’s Fat Thursday, and in Poland you eat Pączki, which are jelly filled donuts.

I tried making pączki in the past and failed, because I really suck at frying things.  This year however I made sure to use a good digital thermometer, fresh yeast and I found a method I like best to seal the little dough balls.

So my recipe is with fresh yeast, which is just better, it grew so much more!  You can find it in some regular grocery stores in the refrigerated section, or if you have an Eastern European store they will sell it in big chunks.  This method of folding over the dough works best when the dough is really yeasty and slightly damp from that.  So I think its best with fresh yeast, try it 🙂

Pączki

5 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

40 grams of fresh yeast

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsalted European style butter, melted

1 1/2 cups warm milk (not hot, just warm when you stick your finger in)

1 whole egg

4 egg yolks

1 liter frying oil

jam or jelly for filling, I used a whole small jar of plum butter

powder sugar for dusting

– prepare your yeast to bloom.  place it in a bowl and squish it a bit so it is easier to stir.  add a spoonful of the sugar and 1/2 cup of the warm milk and stir to mix well.  add more milk if it’s not mixing up.  let it sit for about 5 minutes until it’s doubled and it’s bubbly.

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– mix the flour with the rest of the sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl. with a stand mixer, using a dough hook, mix the flour on low, slowly adding the rest of the milk, the butter, the yeast mixture and the eggs.  or mix everything bit by bit in a big bowl, eventually using your hands.  mix well until everything is combined but still slightly sticky.  you don’t want to work the dough too much, but you want to form a nice ball.

– place the dough in a clean, lightly oiled bowl.  cover with a dish towel and let it sit in a warm place for about an hour, for it to double in size.

– once doubled, flour your surface and roll the dough out into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.  make a light mark down the middle with your hand, not piercing through but just so there is a mark on the dough indicating half.  do the same thing with a large cup on one side of the dough, just lightly marking circles with space in between.  these will be your pączki.

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– fill each circle with a spoonful of jam or jelly.  once they are all filled, take the other half of your dough and place it over the side with the jam, make sure it fits all the way over to the other edge.  lightly press around the little jam hills to slightly seal.

– take your cup again and place it over the circle so it goes all the way through.  it should seal well from that but if not, lightly press to make sure the jam is not coming out.  set aside, under a dish towel is good to not let them dry out.

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– once you do one set of circles, mix your dough again and roll out to repeat until you have no more dough.  i did it even with one circle.  let all the circles rest and rise for 30 minutes.

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– heat your oil in a large pan on medium to high, cast iron works well for frying. you want the temperature to get to 356° F and to stay at that temperature for the whole process.

– place a couple of pączki and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, they will be quite brown. use a slotted spoon to remove them onto a plate with a paper towel. repeat.

– once they have cooled a bit sprinkle them with powdered sugar.

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Enjoy!  They are so good when fresh 🙂

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