The start of every Easter holiday is marked by one special day which everyone, young and old, thoroughly enjoys – Paczki Day! In America most commonly celebrated on “Fat Tuesday”, in other words the day before Ash Wednesday, paczki (pohnch-kee) actually remain most heavily consumed on Fat Thursday, when the paczki sales are highest. What exactly is Paczki Day and why is it celebrated? The paczek, the much-anticipated precursor of Easter, originated because in the old days meat and meat-byproducts were not allowed to be consumed by Catholic fasting practices during Lent. Hence why every household strived to use up any meat, dairy, and eggs by procuring various dishes from nalesniki (crepes) to paczki (doughnuts). Also countries like Ukraine, Serbia, and Lithuania participated in this act, by whisking up dishes like spurgos or krofne – Lent is very highly regarded in those cultures as well.
Fat Thursday is that one day a year when great gluttony is fully accepted. Initially celebrated with the consumption of huge loads of lard, bacon, and vodka, in today’s more modern times paczki remain the most popular go-to method of spoiling oneself. This sweet and delectable treat tastes best when it is consumed shortly after it has been taken off the frying grease, hot and soft.
Prepared and served in a multitude of ways, paczki can most often be encountered filled with marmalade (rosehip, prune, raspberry, or other), creamy custard, or no filling at all, and dusted with either confectioner’s sugar, granulated sugar, or glazed with icing. The most traditional paczki are also prepared with candied orange peels (for an irreplaceable taste and aroma) and a dash of alcohol (to prevent the absorption of oil deep into the dough).
This light, spongy, melt-in-your-mouth pastry has become a hit in North America, predominantly in areas most densely populated by Polish communities. Made and sold by many bakeries throughout the U.S., you are bound to encounter paczki in at least one of your nearby bakeries or pastry shops. These huge, round treats made from rich dough and delectable filling, rolled or dusted in sugar or glaze while still warm are a favorite not by accident! Paczki truly deserve their fame.
Enjoy one (or several) this Easter season – just remember! They come out to about 500 calories – each! However, since it’s only once a year… Nobody will notice.