P is for Polish Paczki

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This article was first published in 2014. We’ve done some more tasting and have added a few more bakeries and updated the paczki review. Enjoy! 

It’s that time of year when many people start preparing for a season of spiritual rigor and renewal. That means parties and festivals and, of course, lots of amazing annual food treats like…paczki! Paczki (pronounced Poonch-Key) are spongy, round filled donuts, richer than regular jelly donuts.

Fresh made paczki at Delightful Pastries.

Fresh made paczki at Delightful Pastries.

 

What Is A Paczki?

Paczki originated in Poland during the Middle Ages. At the time of King Augustus III, when French cooks came to Poland, the dough was made lighter and spongier.  According to Dobra Bielinski of Delightful Pastries in Chicago, the main differences between typical jelly-filled donuts and paczki are that the paczki dough will bounce right back when you take a bite. There is also less filling and more of that lovely dough. To the Polish people, the dough is the central delight while the filling is an accent.

Dobra Bielinski, Owner of Delightful Pastries

Dobra Bielinski, Owner of Delightful Pastries in Chicago

 

There are many delicious paczki fillings, from traditional jams like plum and rose hips to fresh strawberries and whipped cream, and even “drunken” versions like those from Delightful Pastries, including Jameson Whiskey with Chocolate Custard, Vodka and Custard with Madagascar Vanilla and Lemon Curd with Moonshine.  We think Delightful Pastries makes the best paczki in Chicago. Dobra and her staff have been making over 50,000 paczki each year for Fat Tuesday for Chicagoland fans. Get your order in early so you won’t be disappointed!

Apricot Paczki from Delightful Pastries

Apricot Paczki Close Up Delightful Pastries

 

Want to learn more about how they’re made just watch this short video of paczki being made at Delightful Pastries below:

 

Paczki History

In Poland, Paczki Day is generally celebrated on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before Lent. In the U.S. and other Polish communities, it is often celebrated on Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) the day before Ash Wednesday begins the Lenten season. The traditional reason for making these rich yeasty dough delights was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the household before the Lenten fast, when their consumption was forbidden.

Bennison Bakery Paczki in Evanston, IL

Bennison’s Bakery Paczki in Evanston, IL

 

Are You Full Yet?

Taking delight in the joys paczki, some bakeries have held annual paczki-eating contests.

Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston, Illinois has been hosting its Annual Paczki Eating Competition since 2010. Stop by the bakery on Saturday, February 25 at 2pm to watch teams of 2 compete for this years paczki eating prizes! While you’re there be sure to sample Bennison’s king cake, breads and cookies.

Paczki Eating Contest at Bennison's Bakery in Evanston, IL

Paczki Eating Contest at Bennison’s Bakery in Evanston, IL

 

Another Chicagoland favorite is Reuters Bakery. For over 85 years they have been making breads, cakes and more on the far west side on Grand Avenue.

Peach Paczki Open from Reuters Bakery Food Travelist

Peach Paczki from Reuters Bakery

 

They have a full selection of the classic paczki but their strawberry and peach are split in half and stuffed with juicy fresh fruit. If you get there early you’ll see the ladies slicing the fresh strawberries by hand. These little pastries are a bit messy and not the traditional paczki but they sure are tasty.

Paczki from Reuters

Finally, for those who’d like to get their paczek (yes, that’s the singular of paczki) as a reward, along with a beer, you might want to enter the Tour de Troit Paczki Run  this 5K run in Hamtramck, Michigan is for you! The event attracts thousands of attendees every year so you know you’ll be in good company.

 THE QUICK BITE: Poland’s special filled donuts called paczki have made their way into the hearts and hands of pastry lovers around the world. They have become modern taste treats with delicious dough and memorable fillings – even some boozy ones.

 

7 Responses to P is for Polish Paczki

  1. jane Reply

    March 1, 2017 at 10:17 am

    so…is Wednesday too late to indulge in Paczki? 🙂 I have a friend who brought these in last year to the office, but sadly he didn’t this year, so I appreciate the info and I’ll know what to ask for myself now.

    • suereddel

      suereddel Reply

      March 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      I would say that it’s never too late for a paczki. They sell them all year long here in Chicago. However, on Fat Tuesday is when you’ll find the best selection (and the lines!).

  2. Anita @ No Particular Place To Go Reply

    February 28, 2017 at 5:14 am

    Drooling and your pictures only add to an instant craving to try this delicious (and not so delicate) pastry! We’re hoping to make it to Poland this summer and you can about bet I’ll be keeping an eye out for Paczkis!

  3. Carole Terwilliger Meyers Reply

    February 27, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    I’d love to try a paczki! Next time I’m in Chicago, which will be in two weeks. It looks like they fill the bill for “Fat” Thursday.

  4. Janice Chung Reply

    February 27, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    Before I got to the last paragraph, I was going to comment that I was thinking about going for a run and stopping at the nearby grocery store for a box of paczki because I have noticed that they are for sale lately. AND THEN you wrote about the Tour de Troit Paczki Run! I’m not alone in thinking that it should be reward for after a run. Those babies look SO delicious! I particularly like icing sugar so it makes those paczkis even more irresistible!

  5. Kirsten Reply

    February 27, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Oh my! Can you believe I’ve been in Chicago 11 years and never tried one. You’ve convinced me. Off to find the nearest shop!

  6. Aperture Of My Soul Reply

    February 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Madagascar Vanilla and Lemon Curd with Moonshine? I think I want to try one! They sound yummy. I tend to like custard or creme filling best. Happy Paczki Day!

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