Polish Paczki Donuts

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Paczki are a traditional Polish sweet treat. They are roll fried donuts in granulated sugar, which can be filled with jam or custard (I prefer jam, myself). These paczki donuts are seen as a splurge food before Lent fasting begins, traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) or Fat Thursday

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dry active or instant yeast (not rapid or quick-rise yeast)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (only as much as necessary to make a moist, non-sticky dough)
  • vegetable oil, for frying;
  • jam or custard, for filling (blueberry, cherry, strawberry or raspberry, etc.)
  • powdered sugar, for dusting (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan, heat milk until steaming with small bubbles forming (about 180 degrees F). Remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.
  2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve yeast in the lukewarm milk and let stand for 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour. Combine and let stand for 20 to 30 minutes, until it becomes really bubbly.
  3. While the milk mixture stands, beat the yolks in a small bowl until light and fluffy. 
  4. Add the melted butter and sugar to the proofed yeast mixture and mix. Add salt and vanilla, then beaten egg yolks. Slowly add more flour to bowl in small amounts until you have a soft dough that is moist but not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead 1 minute. If dough is sticking to your hands or the work surface, add a little more flour. Form dough into a ball.
  5. Grease a clean bowl and add dough. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles. This could take up to 90 minutes.
  6. Once dough has doubled, deflate and pat it out onto floured cutting board. Gently roll into a 1/2-inch thick circle (with a rolling pin). Carefully cut out 3-inch circles (I recommend using a 3-inch biscuit cutter). Place them onto a parchment lined baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel. Let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. (You’ll end up with some scraps; you can re-roll them and cut more pieces, though they never turn out as neat as the first cuts. Therefore, you could use the least attractive of these as “testers,” to test the temperature of the oil. Fry one, let cool, then cut it open to make sure it’s cooking through. Then adjust time and/or temperature, if needed.)
  7. Heat oil to 360 degrees F. Fry paczki until golden on one side, then flip and fry the other side. Take your time and don’t try frying too many at once. Make sure they’re cooked through well. Fry until they are a deep golden color on each side. Transfer paczki to a cooling rack for about 30 seconds, then immediately roll in powdered sugar or granulated sugar. Let stand until thoroughly cooled.
  8. Once cooled, poke a hole in the side with a sharp knife. Use a pastry bag with a large plain tip, pipe the jam (or custard filling) inside. 


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