Monday, March 7, 2011
Fat Tuesday Fast Approaching
In English, the common pronunciations /pɔ̃tʃki/ or /pɑntʃki/ imitate the Polish pronunciation, but some speakers pronounce the word /puntʃki/
Pączki Day In Poland, pączki are eaten especially on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Lent). Many Polish Americans celebrate Pączki Day on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Traditionally, the reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because they were forbidden to be consumed due to Catholic fasting practices during Lent.
In the large Polish community of Chicago, and other large cities across the Midwest, Pączki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. In Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, Pączki Day is more commonly celebrated on Fat Tuesday instead of Fat Thursday. Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday, due to its sizable Polish population.
In Hamtramck, Michigan, an enclave of Detroit, there is an annual Pączki Day (Shrove Tuesday) Parade which has gained a devoted following. In the Greater Cleveland area, it is wide spread through out the region, that many bakeries have people that will wait in lines for pączki on Pączki Day. The Pączki Day celebrations in some areas are even larger than many celebrations for St. Patrick's Day. In some areas Pączki Day is celebrated with pączki-eating contests. The eating contest in Evanston, Illinois, started in 2010. Hamtramck contest started in 2001. Both are held on weekends closest to Fat Tuesday.
DOUGH. Dissolve 2 cakes crushed yeast in 1 c. lukewarm milk, sift in 1 c. flour, add 1 T. sugar, mix, cover, and let stand in warm place to rise.
Beat 8 egg yolks with 2/3 c. powdered sugar and 2 T. vanilla sugar until fluffy. Sift 21/2 c. flour into bowl, add sponge, egg mixture, and 2 T. grain alcohol or 3 T. rum, and knead well until dough is smooth and glossy. Gradually add 1 stick melted lukewarm butter and continue kneading dough until it no longer clings to hands and bowl and air blisters appear.
Cover with cloth and let rise in warm place until doubled. Punch dough down and let it rise again. Transfer dough to floured board, sprinkle top with flour, and roll out about 1/2" inch thick. With glass or biscuit-cutter, cut into rounds. Arrange on floured board and proceed in either of the following ways:
SMALL PACZKI. Place a spoonful of fruit filling (rose-hip preserves, cherry preserves, or other thick jam) off center on each round. Raise edges of dough and pinch together over filling, then roll between palms snowball fashion to form balls. Let rise in warm place until doubled.
LARGE PACZKI. Place a spoonful of fruit filling as above on only 1/2 dough rounds, cover each with another round, pinch edges together, and roll between palms to form a ball. Let rise until doubled in warm, draft-free place. Heat 11/2-2 lbs. lard in deep pan so paczki can float freely during frying. It is hot enough when a small piece of dough dropped into hot fat immediately floats up.
Fry paczki under cover without crowding several minutes until nicely browned on bottom, then turn over and fry uncovered on other side another 3 minutes or so. Note: If using electric fryer, set temp. at 360-375 degrees. If frying in stove-top pan and fat begins to burn, add several slices of peeled raw potato which will both lower the temperature and absorb the burnt flavor. Paczki may also be fried in oil, but lard produces the tastiest results. If you are cutting down on animal fats, you can compromise by using a lard and oil combination.
Transfer fried paczki to absorbent paper and set aside to cool. When cool, dust generously with powdered sugar, glaze or icing.
EXQUISITE OLD WARSAW PACZKI. This is an old recipe modified for those who prefer granulated, active dry yeast to a the more traditional compressed fresh yeast.
Beat 12 egg yolks with 1. t. salt at high speed until thick and lemony. Dissolve 2 packets of dry yeast in 1/4 c. 110-degree water. Separately, cream 1/3 c. room-temp. butter with 1/2 c. granulated sugar until fluffy, and beat into yeast mixture. Scald 1 c. whipping cream and cool to lukewarm.
Gradually add 2 c. flour and the cream, plus 3 T. French brandy, beating constantly. Then add 2 more c. flour and finally the yolk mixture. Knead well until air blisters appear. Cover with cloth and let stand in warm place until doubled. Punch down and let rise again. Roll out on floured board, sprinkling top of dough with a little flour, about 3/4 inch thick.
Cut into 2 inch rounds and top half of them with spoonful fruit filling. Cover with remaining rounds, pinch edges together with seal. (Note: If dough is dry, moisten edges with water before pinching together.) Place paczki on floured board, cover with cloth, and let raise until doubled. Fry as above, drain on absorbent paper, and when cool, dust with vanilla sugar or cover with glaze, preferably containing some grated orange ring.