If you’re looking for a traditional Polish delicacy oozing with goodness and calories, try pączek (pronounced as paun-czek)
Food around the world has tempted me as much as the place itself. Poland also has some great delicacies in the offering for all the food lover out there. Poles’ affinity for sweet left me intrigued when I visited it the first time. Of all the delectable desserts to indulge a sweet tooth, Pączek tempted me the most. Pączek is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into spheres and triangles. The juicy sweet bread comes packed with contrasting flavours of confiture, jams, or Nutella fillings, and makes for an ideal go-to breakfast option along with coffee/tea.
If you have to witness the craze for Pączki among the locals, go around and visit a Piekarnia/ Pączkarnia nearby on a Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Millions of Polish people treat it as an important holiday, which mainly revolves around eating doughnuts and Pączek, in fact many of them, even all day long, all for good luck. The lengthy queue with all longing eyes set on fresh-baked Pączki is every indication that this one is an iconic Polish dessert that people here can go frantic about!
While walking around the Polish cities and towns, look for Piekarnia Hert. These are the places selling the most wholesome Pączki around. Pączek has remained pretty much a Polish thing since Medieval times.
Some records maintain that Polish people are quite used to preparing and eating Pączki since the 16th century. Back then, Pączki were named differently as Pampuchy (the name has been preserved to this day in Poland’s Upper Silesian region). Even the preparation methods of Pączki during middle age varied. Certainly, people used bread dough to make it, but it came with bacon or pork fat fillings, and they weren’t as soft as those you find in a Piekarnia. They were comparatively hard to chew. Now I wonder which version would you choose if given a chance?
The softer, lighter, and spongier version of Pączki that we find today is because of the improvisations initiated by few French cooks who travelled to Poland during the 18th century.
Most of the Pączkis are usually covered with powdered sugar or bits of dried orange zest, which only intensifies its flavour. In most of the variants of it, they add a small amount of grain alcohol (traditional spirit) to the dough before cooking which enhances the taste and prevents the absorption of oil deep into the dough. It is certainly the next level of the doughnut itself!
What’s your favourite Pączki flavour? If you have some interesting facts related to Pączki, feel free to share in the comments below. Thanks for reading