Disclaimer: I am not Polish. But my husband is, so there’s that.
For those of you unfamiliar with Paczki, they are a delicious tradition of Polish Mardi Gras. Since the season of Lent requires a lot of bland eating, Paczki were a way to use up all of the ingredients that would shortly become (more) sinful. They are essentially donuts – bready treats filled with fruit or custard and cooked in lard. I myself did not become aware of Paczki until I was living in Seattle and met Eric. We found them for sale at Met Market on the other side of Queen Anne, and he was so excited! We bought a couple to share with our friends, and we brought them home.
Now, here I must point out that I am a donut fanatic. While in the Pacific Northwest, I made multiple trips to try donut shops that had any sort of reputation. Bonus points if they had cutesy names. We even took a road trip to Portland, OR one weekend to visit Voodoo Donuts. So when I speak of fried dough, I have a pretty good idea what I’m talking about.
The Paczki were amazing! Delicious. Everything you’d want in a donut and more. My favorite was the lemon curd.
So now let’s fast forward to living in Arkansas, where culture is not the most highly-esteemed part of life. The Kroger in Little Rock said they would have Paczki, but when I went in to ask, the lady in the bakery had no idea what I was talking about. Thus it fell on me to provide the Mardi Gras treat.
I found a great recipe that allowed me to bake them, instead of fry them. Sure, I have a Dutch oven, and I could have fried them, but I wanted a modicum of decency, so that meant healthier options and, likely, safer ones. Grease burns are one of those life experiences I’d like to skip, thank you. Whipped up the dough, bought some prefab lemon curd, and doused in powdered sugar.
They came out okay. They were absolutely at their best when they were fresh and still warm. The batch made more than two people could eat in a day, so we enjoyed them for another day and a half after, but they had lost some of the doughiness.
Anyway…here are pictures! Oh, and if I look exhausted in the pictures, it’s because I was teaching at the time, and I was.