Baldwin citizens celebrate Fat Tuesday with traditional Paczki

LAKE COUNTY — The season of Lent, with its tradition of self-denial and thoughtful reflection, is upon us, but many people in Baldwin refused to let Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, pass by without one last delicious indulgence: the traditional Polish treat known as Paczki.

These doughnut-like confections, (pronounced POHNCH-kee) are murder on anyone’s diet, but have been a pre-Lenten, carnival tradition for centuries, since the Middle Ages. The deep-fried balls of yeast dough are sometimes filled with raspberries, strawberries or cream cheese, and dusted with granulated sugar.

At several locations around Baldwin, orders for the Paczki have been taken for the past several weeks; turnout for the treats is always high, as many folks would no more celebrate “Shrove Tuesday” without their Polish doughnuts than they would have Easter without jelly-beans.

The recipe for a traditional Paczki is as follows:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • one stick of room-temperature butter
  • one large egg
  • 1 tablespoon brandy or rum
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
  • one gallon oil for deep frying
  • granulated or confectioner’s sugar
  • fruit paste for filling (optional)

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk and set aside. Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy; beat in egg, brandy, and salt.

Add flour alternately with the yeast and milk mixture and beat until smooth.

Place the dough in a greased bowl; cover and let rise; punch down and let rise again.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into balls one-half inch thick. Cover again and let the balls rise until they have doubled in size.

Heat the oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven; fry the Paczki two or three minutes until they are golden brown. Make sure that the oil is not so hot that it cooks the outside of the doughnut before the inside is done.

Drain the Paczki on paper towels and sprinkle them with sugar. Filling can be inserted through a small hole in the side.

Happy eating!