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Polish Doughnuts or Paczki

Updated on January 31, 2018
paczki as I remember sprinkled with powder sugar
paczki as I remember sprinkled with powder sugar

As I walk around my favorite grocery store, I came across doughnuts called Paczki in the bakery section. At first it didn't make sense to me because I always thought Paczki was Polish Easter Bread. Then I realized from my earlier marriage that Paczki is actually pronounced "Poonchkey" which is the Polish word for their special doughnut.

From my earlier experiences with Paczki, I remember it as more of a heavy doughnut without a hole in the middle. Instead this doughnut seems to have become synonymous with filled doughnut. I think this is a modern day evolution from the original recipe which you can find anywhere on the Internet by searching for "paczki recipe."

I have always been partial to yeast raised doughnuts. I'm not fond of the cake doughnuts but love to sink my teeth into a good doughnut made from a yeast recipe.

My first mother-in-law only made Paczki on Shrove Tuesday (fat Tuesday) and her traditional doughnut was slightly different from the ones I have seen today in bake shops. She would make the paczki (doughnuts without holes) and deep fry them. Once they came out of the oil they were drained of the grease on brown paper. She would insert a maraschino cherry into one of the doughnuts. The person that found the cherry was thought to have gotten a piece of good luck. Actually all they got was the special doughnut of the day but who am I to refute their beliefs.

filled paczki sprinkled with sugar
filled paczki sprinkled with sugar

Other families use fruit jelly or jam filling in their paczki. I have seen them covered with powdered sugar and some have granulated sugar on them. My mother-in-law only made enough for the family because Paczki was to be eaten only on Shrove Tuesday which signaled the start of the Lenten season and the tradition of giving up something to get ready for Easter. My philosophy is don't give up something -- eat your doughnuts. Do something for someone else instead.

paczki from the bakery
paczki from the bakery

In my second marriage to a man of Italian decent, I make Easter bread dough which is a sweet dough. Since we used to make what we called fried dough with one of the loaves, I use that recipe when I attempt to make this traditional doughnut.


Submit a Comment

  • bearnmom profile image

    Laura L Scotty 4 years ago from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

    You are right about using up all the sweets before Lent starts. Thank you for your approval and I hope I helped you regain a little piece of your heritage.

  • Erin Wilson profile image

    Erin Wilson 4 years ago from Michigan

    Thank you for the tip about the cherry in the Paczki. I am definitely going to try this. My father's family is from Hamtramck, a very small city near Detroit, Michigan, use to be a VERY polish town where everyone knew each other. There are several traditions that seemed to pass away with my the passing of my grandparents and I am determined to bring them back. As I remember Paczki, they are VERY heavy and are made to use up the last of all the good tasting treat making ingredients in the house before Lent, hence fat tuesday...we would eat till we were "fat" enough to fast. But, thank you again for your story, you've tickled a few memories in my mind:)