Sunday, February 18, 2007

Why God Made Grease and Sugar

For some, Mardi Gras means beads and a King Cake. But for me, Fat Tuesday only means one thing.


To call them "jelly-filled doughnuts" is to call Beethoven's Ninth Symphony a "happy tune." These are no ordinary KrispyKreme/Dunkin' Donuts pieces of fluff. These are doughnuts of substance, dammit.

Years ago my father would make 20 dozen or so to share with the relatives. He would start at 5AM, and in order to make 20 dozens' worth of dough rise he would shut off all the furnace vents in the house except for the one in the kitchen, and then close that door. Given that this was Michigan in February, the house could get a bit...chilly. But it was a sacrifice we were willing to make, because we knew what was coming. When I left for school in the morning there would be a huge balia (or baby bathtub, for those of you not familiar with the mother tongue) filled with dough. By the time I came home, there would be trays of paczki covered with powdered sugar on just about every level surface in the house. I only got glimpses of how the magic happened -- an industrial-sized deep fryer sitting on the stove and this amazing machine that shot the filling into the paczki, one at a time, using a pump-handle action.

Because making paczki takes time, I give you the recipe today so you can shop. Tomorrow you can spend the day assembling these. Tuesday you can enjoy them all, because Lent starts on Wednesday and there'll be none of that sugar and fat again till Easter.

For 4 dozen paczki:

¾ ounce yeast dissolved in ¼ cup warm water
½ quart warm milk
3 cups flour

Mix together and let rise for about ½ hour

Mix together

½ quart scalded milk (let return to room temperature)
¼ lb. melted butter
2 tablespoons shortening
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons whiskey

Mix together above ingredients and add 6 eggs, pinch of salt, 9 cups flour until you get a dough that is easy to work with.

Let the dough rise until double in size, then cut the dough into 2 ounce pieces (about the size of a golf ball) and form balls. Place the dough balls on a well oiled flat pan, let them rise for about ½ hour to about ¾ hour.

Bring oil (traditionally melted Crisco) in large fryer to 350 degree and fry the paczki until well browned on both sides. When removing from the oil, it is traditional to drain them on brown paper bags.

When the paczki are cool enough to handle, they can be filled using a pastry bag. Use a tip that will allow a good teaspoon of filling (fruit jelly or my favorite -- prune aka lekvar) to be inserted in the paczek. Then dust the paczki with powdered sugar.

Or, you can do what I'm doing and order yours from the Sanitary Bakery, an occasion of sin I was introduced to by my friend Another Monkey.. It's probably too late for this year, so you'll just have to wait for 2008. I suppose you could order them even though it's not Fat Tuesday, but they just won't taste the same.



Anonymous cooper said...

dee, 4 dozen paczki? Well, that's almost enough for an ex-Baptist to get religion again, if it weren't for the crushing guilt afterwards. Hope you're doing well.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Roy said...

You may or may not know that jelly doughnuts are also a traditional Chanukkah treat--anything fried in oil celebrates the holiday well. And also, we had a surfeit of them in the office today. Yum.

Glad to see you're still around. I am too.


12:12 PM  
Blogger hedera said...

I think I gained 5 pounds just looking at the picture. Is there a law against those things? Yowza!

12:05 AM  

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