Today is Paczki Day in Detroit (my home town). It is the happiest and most delicious day of the year. This is how the Polish (and other) communities in the city kick off Lent. When I was a little girl, you had to place your order at the market or bakery weeks in advance. I soon found out that it’s only really popular in Detroit. I’ve lived in Chicago, New York and DC, and in those cities, either no one’s heard of them, or they’re not very excited about it. If you’re curious to know just how big a deal Paczki Day is, take a peek at this article. By they way, for those of you who don’t know, a Paczki is a Polish jelly donut.
I was able to find a recipe from Serious Eats to try. It required you to make a dough starter. I was excited because I’ve never done that before. I also was a little over ambitious and started this recipe around 10pm at night and was ready for bed during the 1st rise. So I decided to cut the donut shapes and keep them in the fridge overnight.
The next morning I let the dough get to room temperature while waiting for the oil to heat up in the deep fryer. I went with two sizes of donuts, and strawberry jelly for the filling. I meant to buy pie filling instead of jelly, but forgot and was too lazy to run back out to the store.
The dough turned out beautifully. They tricky part is working with the hot oil. (It’s still my goal in life to master deep-frying.) If the oil is too low, the donuts soak with oil and if it’s too hot, they brown too quickly and are underdone in the middle. That’s why I came up with the genius idea to make mostly smaller ones to account for the “whoopsies” that were guaranteed to occur while frying.
The only thing I would do differently with this recipe is make a regular donut glaze instead of dusting them with powdered sugar. Regardless, this recipe didn’t disappoint. The Paczki’s were delicious. It was almost like being at home.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast (2 packets)
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 5 cups all purpose flour
- 4 eggs yolks plus one whole egg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- canola oil for frying
- 1 ½ cups of your favorite preserves, or pie filling with fruit removed, or custard
- 1 cup powdered sugar for dusting
In a small saucepan heat milk to between 110 an 115°F. Pour warmed milk into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Dissolve yeast in milk. Add one tablespoon sugar and two cups of flour. Mix until consistency of pancake batter then cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to allow yeast to activate. Let rest for 30 minutes or until starter is very bubbly.
In a medium bowl combine egg and yolks. Whisk with a hand mixer until light and frothy, about 4 minutes. Whisk in ½ cup sugar, salt and vanilla.
Slowly stir cooled melted butter into yeast starter until combined. Slowly add egg mixture and stir until just combined. Fit mixer with dough hook. Stir in flour, working ½ cup in at a time until a soft dough comes together. Thee dough will be very sticky. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and transfer dough to bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until double in size. About an hour.
Turn out dough on a very generously floured surface. Dust surface of dough with flour then punch down dough to about ½ inch high. Using a floured two- or three-inch biscuit cutter, cut out donuts. Carefully transfer donut rounds to parchment lined baking sheets that have been sprayed with pan coating. Cover sheets with a clean dish towel and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Note: Alternatively, you can spray plastic wrap with pan coating, cover the sheets and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, take them out and let them come to room temperature. They will rise in the process.
Add canola oil to your deep fryer according to instructions or fill a large pot with 2 inches of oil. Heat oil to 360°F. Once oil reaches the proper temperature use a heat resistant spatula or shallow strainer to carefully drop doughnuts in, one at a time, cooking a maximum of 3 at once. Cook doughnuts until a warm, deep brown on one side, then using heat resistance tongs turn the donut and cook the other side until it reaches the same degree of doneness. Remove from oil and let drain on a wire rack for cooling. Test your first doughnut to make sure that the insides are completely cooked, if not adjust your cooking time accordingly. Let doughnut cool.
Fill your pastry bag with your favorite preserves and fit the bag with a filling tip. Pipe filling into paczki then dip each side and dust with powdered sugar.