Being from Michigan where there is considerable Polish community Paczkis are common place but once a year. They are a special doughnut like treat that marks the beginning of lent as it is a traditional opportunity for people to use up the last of their rich ingredients. I don’t actually know anyone that makes them from scratch but part of that is because they are so readily available in grocery stores and bakeries. Well here in Texas this week is celebrated in a very different way. Marti Gras and New Orleans cuisine are more the feature, last year I made jambalaya and this year we will be having gumbo. They do not however have paczkis anywhere; I’m truly not exaggerating when I say that. In the two years we have lived here I have not seen a single paczkis. So I decided enough is enough and I would simply make my own. A couple of weeks ago I made doughnuts for the first time so I felt comfortable enough with the process not that it is difficult or anything but it is the kind of recipe that can look over whelming.
In case you are wondering, and I am assuming that you are, these were amazing. They were far better than the ones at the grocery store, partly because they were fresh but also because the texture was perfect. I had a difficult time finding a good recipe, they were either too complicated but vague or they were lacking information and expecting you to rely on some sort of technique your Polish grandmother taught you. I did my best to combine recipes to get the best of both worlds and I think this is a great recipe. We filled half of them with homemade custard and the other half with raspberry jam; they would also be great with some sort of chocolate filling or a lemon curd. If you take the time to make these I promise you wouldn’t be sorry!
Heat milk until warm then add yeast stirring until dissolved. Meanwhile in the bowl of your stand mixer cream together room temperature butter and sugar until light and airy. Add in eggs one at a time making sure they are completely mixed in before adding the next. Add the rum then the salt and continue to mix until well combined. Add half of the yeast mixture followed by half the flour, mix until well combined. Add the remaining yeast mixture and the rest of the flour, continue mixing for several minutes until the dough is smooth and consistent. On a floured surface turn out the dough and knead for 5 minutes or until the dough becomes supple and smooth. Add up to a half cup of extra flour if needed but the dough should be sticky.
Place dough in a lightly greased or coated in cooking spray bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk or 3 hours. Punch down the dough, recover and let rise a second time for another hour and a half.
Turn the dough back out onto your floured surface. Pat to 1/2-inch thickness then cut rounds with 3-inch cookie cutter. Continue to gather the extra dough, reform and pat out. Recover and let rounds rise until doubled in bulk or 1 hour.
Heat oil to 350 degrees in a Dutch oven, or other pan that is suitable for frying, making sure to monitor and adjust the heat to maintain the proper temperature throughout. Place dough circles top down in the oil in batches and fry 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden brown before flipping over and cooking the other side an additional minute or two.
Place the done paczkis on newspapers or brown paper bags and let cool for a minute before rolling in granulated sugar or powdered sugar. To fill the paczkis place your desired filling in a pastry bag with a large tip, pressing through the side, and squeeze a tablespoon or so into each pastry. Yield: 18-20. Total time from mixing to eating: 6 hours.
Much Love, Aislinn and Emily