The summer before I went off to college, I was terrified at the thought of cooking for myself, so I spent some time gathering recipes from my mom, grandmas, aunts, etc. – even my friend’s moms. I didn’t realize at the time that I wouldn’t have a kitchen until after my first year, and with all the food readily available on campus, there was no real need to learn to cook until after I graduated. Still, I’m glad I spent that time gathering all of those recipes, because many of them are childhood favorites of mine or absolute gems like this recipe I copied down from one of my babcia’s Polish cookbooks. I wanted to try this recipe for paczki (pronounced PAWNCH-KEY, in case you were wondering) last year for Fat Thursday, but unfortunately time got away from me and I never got around to it. This year I was ready though, and I made these delightful Polish treats last week on the last Thursday before Lent. Despite the time required for the dough to rise three times, they were surprisingly easy to make and well worth the effort, so I wanted to make sure to share them today for Fat Tuesday. I hope you enjoy them!
Recipe adapted from one of my babcia’s Polish cookbooks – unfortunately, I don’t have the title/author of the book.
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 4 1/2 cups flour
- Jam, for filling (I used strawberry-vanilla bean jam)
- Cinnamon-sugar, for rolling in
In a medium pot, scald the milk. Allow to cool to lukewarm before sprinkling the yeast over the top to dissolve. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Beat in the egg yolks and whole egg, salt, vanilla extract, and nutmeg.
Add in the flour and milk mixtures alternately until well-combined.
Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 1/2 hours.
Punch down the dough and then knead it until smooth. Let rise once again until doubled. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into 2″ circles. Cover and let rise a third time until doubled.
Fry in hot oil (about 350 degrees F), turning once. The paczki should puff up, and they should be very dark. Set down on a paper towel, and then fill with jam using a pastry bag.
Roll in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar and serve immediately.