Paczki are a kind of like jelly doughnuts, except that they are made from an especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar and milk. They usually have some sort of fruit or cream filling and are coated in sugar, however, if you ask any Polish person, it’s not a real paczki unless it has prune filling. Now, the whole reason that paczki were originally made for Fat Tuesday was to use up the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by the Catholic Church during Lent. Paczki have been known in Poland since at least the Middle Ages during the reign of August III.
Makes 20 doughnuts Starter:
- 2½ teaspoons/ 10 grams instant yeast
- 3½ ounces/ 100 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1¼ cup/ 300 ml milk
- Combine all the ingredients and mix until you get the consistency of pancake batter, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 1 to 1½ hours until the mixture increases in volume and turns all bubbly.
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 14 ounces/ 400 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon rum (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- 4 tablespoons/ 50 grams butter, melted
- 3 ounces/ 100 grams of tinned prunes stoned and chopped finely
- Vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 4 tablespoons caster sugar, for dusting
- In the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.
- Beat the egg yolks, eggs and sugar together until smooth, then add the sugar, rum (if using), vanilla extract, salt and lemon juice and mix until incorporated.
- Switch to the paddle attachment, then add the starter and two tablespoons of flour and mix on low speed, adding the flour a tablespoon at a time until everything is incorporated.
- You might want to switch to the dough hook halfway through the additions of flour if you find that the paddle attachment doesn’t mix thoroughly enough.
- The dough is ready when it comes away from the sides of the bowl and doesn’t stick to your finger when pressed.
- Pour in the melted butter and mix it just enough to be incorporated with the dough.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rise for 45 minutes to an hour.
- When the dough has doubled in volume, prepare to shape and fill the doughnuts.
- Dust a few baking sheets with flour. Pinch off some dough such that it fits your palm comfortably and roll it into a smooth ball.
- Flatten it on your palm, then scoop or place your prunes in the middle.
- Seal the ball by bringing the sides into the middle such that you wrap the filling securely. Patch up any lines that appear, then place the ball sealed side down on the floured pan, leaving an inch between each ball.
- Cover with a cloth and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
- Fill a heavy-bottomed pot with 2 inches of vegetable oil and heat it to 350F/ 180C.
- Add the doughnuts to the oil, two to three at a time, depending on the size of your pot.
- They will float on the surface of the oil and the bottom will turn a golden brown.
- When this happens, flip the doughnuts over to cook the other side, which should take about 1 to 2 minutes.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a wire rack set over a tray.
- Repeat for the rest of the doughnuts.
- When cool enough to touch, roll each doughnut in the sugar and serve.