Paczki (Polish [ˈpɔnt͡ʂki] are pastries traditional to Polish cuisine (the word pączek is sometimes translated as doughnut). A pączek is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. Paczki are usually covered with powdered sugar, icing or bits of dried orange zest. A small amount of grain alcohol (traditionally, Spiritus) is added to the dough before cooking; as it evaporates, it prevents the absorption of oil deep into the dough.
In Poland, paczki are eaten especially on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday). Many Polish Americans celebrate Paczki Day on Fat Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). Traditionally, the reason for making paczki 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, Paczki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday, due to its sizable Polish population.
You can celebrate Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday by purchasing paczki from a European bakery or try your hand at making paczki in your own kitchen.Click here for the recipe!