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Authentic Polish Donuts Pączki Recipe

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This paczki recipe for Polish donuts made on Tłusty Czwartek requires a lot of resting time than a little cooking time. Light and spongy, the donuts stuffed with pudding, jam, or covered with glaze taste delicious!

What Are Pączki?

Pączki are a Polish donuts recipe that is popular in Poland before the Lenten season. They were invented as a means of finishing off the yeast, eggs, butter, lard, and sugar in the house. All the food items that couldn’t be eaten during Lent went into paczki (traditional, Silesian pączki, Kuyavain pączki, and others), chruściki, faworki, oponki, or rozetki and were eaten on Tłusty Czwartek. 

Made in Poland since the Middle Ages, paczki dough became lighter and spongier in the 18th century during the reign of King Augustus III. It’s believed the king had French chefs come to Poland and make changes to the recipe for this.

The correctly made pączki should have a white ring in the middle after frying. The upper and lower part should be brownish but it is important that there should be a white ring between them. The presence of this ring is taken as an indication that the Polish paczki recipe was made with fresh oil. 

There are a few traditions surrounding paczki too! Did you know that if you don’t eat many pączki on Fat Thursday, your barn will be empty and mice will destroy your fields? Maybe old legends, but best not to play with them! Let’s eat more paczki to be safe! Wink!

Did you know that there is now a Paczki Day celebrated in Michigan and Illinois with really long lines queuing in front of Polish bakeries? 

How To Make Polish Donuts For Fat Thursday

How To Make The Paczki Dough?

Proof the yeast with the milk and a tbsp of sugar, and leave it alone for 30 minutes till it grows in size.

While the yeast is proofing, beat the egg yolks with sugar until they change to whitish in color.

You can also make the pudding filling while waiting for the yeast to proof.

Once the yeast has proofed, mix all the ingredients for the dough using your hand or a food processor.

Put the dough in a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen cloth, and allow it to double in size. Yeast dough for pączki needs 2 things: warmth and time. That’s why it’s good to let it grow in a warm oven.

Sifting the flour.
Sifting the flour
Dough for the paczki.
Paczki dough
Dough proofing in the oven.
Paczki dough growing in the oven
Paczki dough has increased in size.
The paczki dough has increased in size

How To Make The Paczki?

When the paczki dough is ready, knead the air bubbles out of it. Form it into pączki that are the size of the tangerine. Cover them with a kitchen cloth while you wait for the oil to heat.

Paczki donuts ready to be fried.
Paczki donuts ready to be fried

Once the oil is ready, test it with a bit of dough. If the dough sinks, the oil isn’t hot enough. If the dough rises to the surface, the oil is ready.

Fry the pączki for about 3-5 minutes on each side and then place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the extra oil.

Now you can fill the paczki with pudding or jam, or cover them with a glaze and serve warm!

Fry the paczki in oil.
Fry the paczki in oil
Fry the paczki donuts on both sides.
Fry the paczki donuts on both sides
Remove the donuts with a sieve.
Remove the donuts from the oil with a sieve
Before and after paczki frying.
Difference: Before and after paczki are fried

What Kind Of Filling Should I Use For These Polish Paczki Recipe?

Any kind of filling will work for these Polish donuts for Fat Thursday including:

    1. Pudding
    2. Jam (rose jam is the most popular in Poland)
    3. Plum butter
    4. Nutella

The pudding recipe is similar to the Polish budyn. You’re just adding more potato starch to make it thicker. 

Some people add the filling to the donuts before frying. I don’t recommend this method because it will make the donuts heavier for frying. You are also risking the filling leaking from pączki during frying. So it’s better to add the filling after the donuts are ready. 

Paczki donut filling.
Pudding for the paczki donuts
Syringe filling the donuts.
Use a large syringe for filling the donuts with pudding
Polish donuts covered with glaze.
Cover the donuts with glaze

Tips For Polish Donuts Recipe

  • Make sure the butter and eggs are at room temperature before you start making the donut dough.
  • Add the filling after frying the donuts!
  • Adding a tablespoon of vinegar to the dough while kneading lessens the amount of oil absorbed while frying. 
  • If you are going to coat the donuts with a sugar glaze, do it when the pączki are warm and add candied orange peel on top!
  • If you are sprinkling them with icing sugar, do it when the pączki are cold.
  • You can also cover the paczki with a chocolate glaze!
  • If you don’t want to use pudding, use any jam you like as a filling. 
  • Compared to the piping bag, the big syringe is a lot easier to use for filling the paczki.
Paczki dusted with powdered sugar.
Paczki dusted with powdered sugar
Paczek in a glass plate.
One paczki is called a paczek

Paczki Recipe: Frequently Asked Questions

How To Pronounce Pączki?

Pączki is pronounced pownch-kee and pączki is already the plural of pączek (punch-ek). So it’s one pączek or many pączki.

The Polish language is tricky. The correct name for donuts is pączki. Paczki (with “a” instead of “ą”) means packages.

What Is Tłusty Czwartek?

Tłusty Czwartek pronounced Twoos-tee Chvar-tek or Fat Thursday is the Polish version of Fat Tuesday. It’s celebrated on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and is the day when all the food that cannot be eaten during Lent is finished.

Why Are Paczki Made on Tłusty Czwartek Or Fat Thursday?

Paczki are made on Tłusty Czwartek [Fat Thursday] to finish up all the household ingredients that can’t be eaten during the Lenten fasting period. These include butter, lard, eggs, and sugar.

Can You Bake Paczki?

Paczki donuts taste best when they are fried! You may bake pączki instead of deep-frying them. They will be really good however, the taste will be completely different from the authentic Polish donuts (more like buns/rolls). Bake them for 15 minutes in 180C/356F.

Baked paczki donuts.
Baked paczki donuts

What Other Polish Dishes Are Made For Tłusty Czwartek?

Other Polish dishes made for Tłusty Czwartek are chruski, rosette cookies and chruściki.

How Long Can Paczki Be Stored?

These Polish donuts taste best when eaten right away. They are not as good the following day. But if you have leftover donuts the next day, reheat them and serve! Paczki can also be stored in the refrigerator for a few months.

Polish Donuts Pączki Recipe

Yield: 30

Polish Donuts Pączki Recipe

Polish donuts covered with glaze.

Use this easy paczki recipe for Polish donuts made on Tłusty Czwartek. Light and spongy, the tasty donuts can be stuffed with pudding or jam, or covered with glaze! 

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

Pączki dough [for 26-30 donuts]

  • 8 cups (1kg) of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of warm milk
  • 15 egg yolks
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 3½ oz (100g) of fresh yeast
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsps of melted butter
  • 2 tbsps of distilled spirit or vinegar (not necessary)

Jam/jelly filling

  • any kind of thick jam- about 30-50ml per donut (26-30oz in total)

Pudding filling [for about 15 donuts]

  • 1 ½ cups of milk
  • 3-4 tbsp of sugar/ xylitol/ any other sweetener
  • 4 tbsp of potato starch
  • 4 egg yolks

Others

  • 6 cups of oil
  • big syringe to fill the donuts
  • icing sugar
  • candied orange peel (optional)

Instructions

How To Make Paczki Dough?

  1. If it's cold in your kitchen, heat your oven to 86°F (30°C).
  2. Sift the flour. Sifting the flour.
  3. Warm up the milk.
  4. Using a spoon, mix yeast with 1 tbsp of sugar. Add 3 tbsps of warm milk and 1 tbsp of flour. Mix and leave it for 30 minutes to grow.

    The mixture will double or triple its size, that's why you should place it in a big bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen cloth. If it's cold in your kitchen, place a bowl in the oven heated to 86°F (30°C).
  5. In the meantime, beat egg yolks with sugar until they change the color to whitish.

    If you are using the pudding filling, it's the right time to do it (read how to do it below).
  6. After 30 minutes, mix all the ingredients for the dough together. You may knead it manually or use a food processor. Knead until the dough starts to detach from your hand.
  7. Place the dough in a big bowl, cover with a clean kitchen cloth, and leave to grow for about 30-60 minutes until it doubles its size. Again, if it's cold in your kitchen, place the bowl in the oven.
  8. When the dough has doubled its size, knead it briefly to remove excessive air bubbles.
  9. Pour the oil into the wok or big pot and start heating it up.
  10. Start forming pączki. Each should have the size of the tangerine.
  11. Cover pączki with a kitchen cloth and wait until the oil is ready to fry.

    How to check whether the oil is hot enough? Throw a small piece of the dough into the oil. If it stays on the bottom, the oil is still too cold. If the dough comes straight up to the surface, the oil is ready to fry.
  12. Fry pączki for about 3-5 minutes on each side. Fry the paczki in oil.
  13. After frying, place the pączki on a plate lined with paper towels to remove the excessive fat. Remove the donuts with a sieve.


How To Make The Pudding Filling?

  1. Pour one cup of milk into the pot.
  2. Add egg yolks, sugar, and whip it together until you will get a smooth, yellow color.
  3. Place a pot on the stove, cook slowly, stirring frequently.
  4. In the meantime, pour half a cup of milk into the small bowl.
  5. Add potato flour. Mix until dissolved.
  6. When the mixture in the pot nearly boils, add milk with potato starch and mix until you will get the consistency of pudding.

How To Make Sugar Glaze?

  1. Mix 1 cup of icing sugar with 1 tbsp water and heat up until you get a smooth consistency.

How To Fill The Donuts?

  1. When the donuts are still warm, fill them up with jam or pudding using a big syringe (like this). You will need about 30-50ml of filling per donut. Syringe filling the donuts.
  2. If you are using sugar glaze, pour them onto warm pączki. You may add candied orange peel as well.
  3. Alternatively, you may use icing sugar. Sprinkle it when the pączki are cold.

Notes

  1. You may warm up the milk and melt the butter by placing them in the warm oven.
  2. To make your pączki even better, place the flour in the oven as well.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

30

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 350Saturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 112mgSodium: 188mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 2gSugar: 26gProtein: 9g

These data are indicative and calculated by Nutritionix

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