June 5, 2013

Bear Essentials:
Mitten Noms - Michigan Classics

(+ Paczki )

Is there anything prettier than the inside of a powdered jelly doughnut?  
And is there anything more impossible to clean up after?  
Not reallies.

It's worth it.

In point of fact, these are not actually jelly doughnuts.  They are paczki, which through the magic of Polish-English conversion is pronounced something like "PUNCH-kee."  or "POONCH-kee."  or possibly "PAUNCH-kee."  Let's be honest.  As long as you don't go for "PACK-zuh-kee," you'll probably escape getting tagged as a non-Polish heathen.

Now that I've said that, I know they're always going to be Pack-zuh-kee to me.  

Don't tell.

Paczki - that's the plural.  I don't know what the singular is.  It's never come up.  The idea of eating a doughnut, singular, has never actually occurred to me before - are a Polish specialty, eaten on Fat Tuesday (fondly just called "Paczki Day" here in metro Detroit).  People line up outside stores waiting for a box of Paczki at 6:00 in the morning so that they can take them into work and give everyone a food coma for the rest of the day.  

It's a very generous holiday.  Especially with the cholesterol.

These are not just jelly doughnuts, you see.  The point of Fat Tuesday (or, in French Mardi Gras - look how cosmopolitan we're being today) is that you feast on Tuesday before beginning your six-ish week fast for Lent - the time for solemn reflection leading up to Easter.

So in the spirit of feasting, these are jelly doughnuts on crack.  Not actual crack.  (Although probably some people do that for Fat Tuesday, too.)  Dietary crack.  By which I mean butter.  Unlike a traditional doughnut recipe, the paczki recipe includes more eggs and butter, which results in a less hole-ey doughnut with a soft texture that's a little bit like...I don't know...coffee cake? 

But then fried.  And stuffed with jam.  Prune is very traditional, but I like raspberry.  And lemon is basically like fried heaven.

And that seems like a perfect note on which to end our series on Michigan foods: sated, reflective, and chock-full of powdered sugar.  Hope you enjoyed a look into our local specialties!

from Serious Eats

Whole Milk  [ 2 cups ]
Instant Yeast  [ 4 1/2 teaspoons - 2 standard-sized packets ]
Sugar  [ 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon ]
Flour  [ 5 cups, plus more for rolling out dough ]
Egg  [ 1 ]
Egg Yolks  [ 4 ]
Salt  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Vanilla Extract  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 1/4 cup, melted and slightly cooled ]
Vegetable Oil  [ for frying ]
Fruit Preserves  [ your choice, 1 1/2 cups ]
Powdered Sugar  [ for dusting, about 1 cup ]
Make Starter:
1.   In a small pot over Low heat, heat Milk to 110-115 degrees F.
2.   In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix warmed Milk and Yeast.
3.   Add 1 tablespoon of the Sugar and 2 cups of the Flour.
4.   Mix until Mixture resembles pancake batter.
5.   Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until very bubbly [ at least 30 minutes - I like 
         to set bowl on top of a heating pad turned to High ].

Make Dough:
6.   In a medium-large bowl, whisk Egg and Egg Yolks until frothy.  [ about 4 minutes ].
7.   Whisk in 1/2 cup of the Sugar, Salt, and Vanilla
8.   Stir Butter into Yeast Mixture until completely combined.
9.   Slowly stir Egg Mixture into Yeast Mixture.
10.   Place dough hook on mixer and mix in Flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until a soft and sticky dough is 
11.   Spray a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and add Dough.
12.   Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place until doubled in size [ about an hour ].

Cut Paczki:
13.   Flour a flat, clean surface and upend Dough onto it.
14.   Sprinkle Dough with a bit of Flour and punch it down to 1/2 inch high.
15.   With a floured 2- or 3-inch cutter, cut out Paczki.
16.   Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
17.   Transfer Paczki to baking sheets and cover each sheet with a clean dish towel.
18.   Let baking sheets rest in a warm place until Paczki are doubled in size  [ about 30 minutes ].

Fry Paczki:
19.   Fill a sturdy pot with at least 2 inches of Vegetable Oil.  
20.   Insert a candy or deep-frying thermometer and heat Oil to 360 degrees F.
21.   Set a wire rack over several layers of paper towel.
22.   Using a metal spatula, ease Paczki one at a time into Oil.  Do not overcrowd pot; the more Paczki in 
             the pot, the more you will have to fiddle with the heat to keep the Oil at 360 degrees.  I fried one at a 
             time, but the original recipe called for no more than 3 at a time.
23.   Cook until deep brown on bottom side.  Then, using heat-resistant blunt-edged tongs, flip.
24.   Cook second side until Paczki are evenly browned.  Remove from pot with tongs or spatula and place 
              on wire rack to drain.

Finish Paczki:
25.   Fill a shallow, wide bowl with Powdered Sugar.  
26.   Prepare a pastry bag with a doughnut filling tip [ long, thin and cylindrical ], and fill with Preserves.
27.   When Paczki have cooled, insert tip of pastry bag in side of each and fill with Preserves.
28.   Roll gently in Powdered Sugar until covered.

Makes about 18 paczki.
[ Note: I halved this recipe when I made this, because even 9 paczki is beyond the bounds of what a 2-person household can devour in 1-2 days.  And these puppies are, really, at their best on day one.  Plan accordingly.  I included the original version of the recipe, however, because a half-recipe would call for half of an egg.  And if I saw that in a recipe, I would have apoplexy.  You're welcome. ]


  1. ok I love jelly doughnuts and I love coffee cake, a jelly doughnut like coffee cake? i'm there!

  2. Singular from 'paczki' is one 'paczek' ('pączki' - 'pączek' with polish letters).
    Greetings from Poland! :)

    1. Awesome! Thanks for the tip - and so glad to have you here. :)