Paczki 101: What Are They, Aren't They Just Donuts, and How Do You Pronounce Them?
First off, let’s get to how it’s pronounced. While I don’t speak Polish, two of my best friends are Polish and always like to make sure I pronounce things right. While phoenetically it’d sound something like pack-zee, it’s actually pronounced POANCH-kee. If you go to a Polish bakery and say pack-zee, they’ll probably understand you, but you’ll likely get stale ones from the back of the case.
For all intents and purposes, paczki are flattened dough that are fried and filled. They are then topped with icing, powdered sugar, or pieces of dried fruit zest. At our local bakery, they top the paczki with colored sprinkles so we know what fillings are inside. How convenient.
Paczki are traditionally filled with plum or rose hip preserves; we prefer fillings like strawberry, apple, raspberry, and custard. The dough, in particular, is much richer than a typical doughnut and is full of delicious fats. Hence, we eat them on Fat Tuesday and Fat Thursday (the Thursday of the week before is the traditional paczki day).
Paczki are meant to be one last splurge before the austere Lenten season where many Christians choose to sacrifice something for Lent. In many cases, indulgent foods such as paczki are left out of the diet for 40 days, and that’s why the paczki squeeze in right before Lent.
We love paczki so much here at Recipe4Living, we actually have some recipes that you can make if you don’t live near a Polish bakery! Paczki Polish Doughnuts and Paczki Donuts are two of our favorite recipes!