Thursday, October 6, 2011
Today we share with you a very special item to Alex's family-Pączki!! Prounounced "pun-ch-key" they are: "A pączek is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. Pączki 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.
Although they look like berliners (German name), bismarcks (south-central Canada/north-central US name), and jelly doughnuts (generic name; sometimes "jam donut"), pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidła (stewed plum jam) and wild rose hip jam are traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry and apple.
Pączki have been known in Poland at least since the Middle Ages. Jędrzej Kitowicz has described that during the reign of August III, under the influence of French cooks who came to Poland, pączki dough was improved, so that pączki became lighter, spongier, and more resilient." [thank you wikipedia]
They are traditionally served in Poland on Fat Thursday (the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday) but here in America Hamtramck & Chicago especially on Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. They usually use up all those pastry ingredients hanging out in Polish Gramma's & Mama's pantry's before lent and are about 1,000 calories each. And as you read are usually made with loads of non-vegan ingredients meaning Alex wouldn't eat them... until she converted the recipe!!!! And then there was much rejoicing in our little home (and then in Alex's office when she brought extras to work so as not to have a too-fat Fat Tuesday)! :D
Here is our amazing converted recipe for traditional (vegan) Pączki:
1/2 cup lukewarm soy milk
1/4 cup cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 packages of yeast (plus 1/4 cup lukewarm water and 1 teaspoon sugar)
Egg replacer for 1 egg (we used apple sauce)
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
3 to 3.5 cups flour
crap-ton of powdered sugar (you'll see why later)
vanilla custard filling from The Only Vegan in the Village:
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 cups vegan milk
1 tbsp. margarine
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
3 cups diced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Stir together the soy milk, sugar, and salt. Prepare the yeast, adding the packet to lukewarm water (100 to 110 degrees F) with some sugar to get the yeast all bubbled up and excited. Once you're sure the yeast is alive and well, stir it into the above mixture until all the yeast is dissolved. Add in the egg replacer and vegetable shortening. Add in the flour slowly, a half cup or so at a time so your mixer doesn't kick a ton of flour up into the air and make a mess.
After the flour is all mixed in, remove the dough from your mixer and knead it. Place it into a greased bowl in a warm spot and cover with a warm, damp (clean) kitchen towel. Allow it to rise until it has doubled in size (about an hour to an hour and a half). Punch the dough down and turn completely over in the bowl. Let rise again until almost double (30 to 45 minutes this time), then remove from the bowl and roll out to about 1/3" thick.
After you've shaped your Pączki, allow them to rise on your counter or a board until they're light and have a slight crust on the dough (about 30 minutes).
While they're rising, fill deep sauce pot with several inches of canola or other vegetable oil (enough for a Pączki to drop to the bottom then rise to the top) or get your deep fryer going. Once the oil has reached 370 to 380 degrees, drop a few donuts in at a time and fry until both sides are golden brown (you will have to flip them with a slotted spoon to get both sides). Monitor the oil temperature carefully.
Once the Pączki are fried, lay them out on a paper bag to drain. Once cooled, slice small opening into them. Set aside.
To make the vanilla filling, combine sugar, salt and cornstarch in a saucepan. Add milk and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a light boil over medium heat while whisking constantly. Lower to a simmer and whisk until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add margarine and vanilla. Pour into a bowl and let cool, stirring every few minutes. Filling will continue to thicken as it cools. Leave until cold.
To prepare apple filling, melt 1 tablespoon margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add apple; sauté 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup apple juice, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 3 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from heat; cool.
Place fillings in separate pastry bags & squeeze into holes cut into Pączki until full. Our favorite was a combo of both apple & vanilla fillings-MMMM!! SO DELICIOUS! Then sprinkle a crap-load (very technical term there) of powdered sugar on top. Now eat until you weigh a million pounds! :D
Alex: AMAZING! Best Ever! SO IN LOVE WITH THESE! And honestly so glad to have converted an old family favorite into something I can enjoy even more now & be able to share that tradition with new friends (& eventually one day my future kiddos).
Joe: Awesome. Simply awesome. Fried dough is one of mankind's greatest achievements, right up there with landing on the moon and fire. I liked the Pączki with both fillings the best. If you leave the powdered sugar on for too long, it will absorb into the dough. I always put it on right before I ate some. They go stale in a day
or so, but I don't think they will last that long. :)