Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tasty Tuesday: Paczki

Fat Tuesday should be a national holiday. Not because I partake in the events of Mardi Gras. Not because I give up something for Lent. To me, it's all about the paczki. If you've never had one, you need to. Need to. The dough is richer than jelly doughnuts and so much better. Each paczek contains over 400 calories. No wonder we eat them only once a year!
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsbp butter                                                                                                   
1/2 cup of milk, heated to 110 degrees       
1/4 tsp vanilla                                                 
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp yeast
2 1/4 cups flour

1. Combine the sugar, butter, milk, vanilla, salt, and eggs. Pour in the yeast and whisk to dissolve. Mix in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, until you have a stiff dough.
2. Remove the dough and knead for about 5 minutes. Place it in a bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in size, about 1-1 1/2 hours. 
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out little round paczki shapes. I got 12 from this batch. You can re-roll the excess dough to cut a few more. Let those rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. In the meantime, heat your oil to 350 degrees F. 
4. Fry the Packzi about 2 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove and let cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.
5. Fill the packzi with filling of your choice. Cover in glaze or powdered sugar.

While searching for a recipe to make, I learned that paczki is plural and paczek is singular. Every time I said "paczkis" I sounded as silly as when Jake says "octopis." You learn something new every day!

I was planning to fill the paczki with raspberry jam for 3 reasons:
  1. It is my favorite filling. 
  2. It is easy.
  3. We already had some.  
While we were discussing it the day before, Leighton said, "Well, you know what filling I want." I saw custard in my near future.

Custard Filling 
5 large egg yolks                                     
3/4 cup cornstarch                                   
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, cornstarch, and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Whisk to blend well. Set aside. 
2. Combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Whisk to dissolve the sugar and bring to a gentle boil, about 10 minutes. 
3. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly and cook until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Be forewarned: the mixture may break. Pour it into a glass bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap down over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool completely at room temperature. 
4. When cooled pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip. Beat at a medium speed to combine the mixture (if it broke). If it will not combine, warm another 1/2 cup heavy cream and slowly add it to the mixture. Whip until you have a thick and creamy custard.

We filled half with the custard and half with raspberry. (Between you and me, the jam ones were better. Shh, don't tell my husband.) I did have a hard time filling them. I thought I had gotten a decent amount (like the whole inside!) of filling in each one. When we bit into them though, there was a drop. I just squirt more filling on the paczki. Then into the kids' mouths. They didn't even seem to mind. 

These were pretty good, but I am no Polish baker. Maybe I should work on that. Hey, did you notice my new candy thermometer? My husband really loves me. Or he really wanted that custard.


I've since made these paczki many times on Fat Tuesday. I now make the dough in my bread machine. Of course, I have to make both fillings each time, but alternate the toppings between powdered sugar, glaze, and chocolate ganache. No matter the combination, you can't go wrong with paczki!

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  1. For the temperature of the oil. And because I've been wanting one. :)