Paczki 101

We've been getting a lot of questions lately about paczki so we decided to put together a little Paczki 101 tutorial. Take a  look!

What are pączki? Pączki are a type of round, puffy, fruit-filled donut, often topped with powdered sugar or glaze. Common flavors include custard, cream, jelly, lemon curd, raspberry, strawberry, apple, prune, blueberry, and apricot.

How do you pronounce pączki?
“P-own-ch-key.” Many Americans say pączki as “poonch-key,” which is technically wrong. The key is the Polish “ą,” which has a nasal “own” sound.  WATCH THIS FUNNY VIDEO!

Is pączki singular or plural?
Many Americans, when speaking of many pączki, say “pączkis.” This is incorrect. Like pierogie, the word pączki is already plural. The singular word for pączki is one “pączek.” Of course, I think the reason no one ever says that is because one does not simply have “one pączek.”

Were pączki always sweet?
No. For most of their history, paćzki were filled with pork fat and fried in lard, probably making them even unhealthier than they are today. For Christians, they were a very practical food, providing an opportunity to use up all the leftover butter, lard, sugar and other ingredients before Lent. These original pączki also had a much harder substance and did not use yeast as an ingredient.

Historical Background:
In the pre-Christian era, the last few weeks of winter were typically the last opportunities for people to eat well, since the food they had stored up would begin running out. After this period, there would often be a period of hunger until the spring.

During the Christian era, the last few weeks of winter coincided with the period preceding Lent (Carnival), which was the last chance to indulge in food before 40 days of fasting. Countries around the world celebrate Carnival with their own unique spin, but these fat days are generally meant to be times of excess.

Fat Tuesday or Fat Thursday?
To begin answering this question, Christians around the globe observe Fat Tuesday, also known as “Shrove Tuesday,” as the last day before Lent. As the last day of Carnival, it is the absolute final opportunity to eat normally before Lenten fasting.

Fat Thursday is only observed by a few countries, most famously Poland, as a day marking the beginning of the final week before Lent. The traditional dessert consumed on Fat Thursday is, of course, pączki. It should be noted that Poles observe Fat Tuesday also, calling it “ostatki,” which translates to leftovers, meaning it’s a time to finish any leftover food or sweets before Lent (including pączki!)

 Over the past several decades, the consumption of pączki has been assimilated, by many western countries, into Fat Tuesday celebrations.