Today’s Trip – Pączki Pursuit
Today’s Trip – Pączki Pursuit
Today's Trip Pączki Pursuit
Today's Trip Pączki Pursuit

More Than A Jelly Donut: Pączki Becomes an American Tradition

  • Pączki are filled pastries found in Polish cuisine.
  • Place of origin: Poland
  • Main ingredients: Confiture or other sweet fillings, Dough, Grain alcohol, Icing, or bits of dried orange zest
  • Region or state: Central Europe, North America
  • Alternative name: kreple
  • Pączki is the plural of pączek (punch-ek)
  • Pączki is a Polish and Slavic Fat Tuesday tradition. It's a way to use up all the sugar and fat in the house before Lent.
  • Pączki connects Polish immigrants and their descendants to their cultural cuisines. 
Pączki (pronounced poonch-key or punch-key) is a Polish Catholic tradition that has become a Polish-American tradition celebrated on Fat Tuesday or Tłusty Czwartek. (Pronounced Twoosti Chvartek.) Pączki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, before Ash Wednesday. The date always falls on the seventh week before the Christian holiday Easter.  Saying a paczek is a glorified jelly doughnut could be accurate, but it is more than that. Traditionally speaking, pączki are a  brioche-style dough infused with vodka and filled with preserves. The Babcia (grandmother in Polish) would fry these up by the dozens. The result would be baseball-sized pastries filled with prune preserves and dusted with powdered sugar.  Traditionally, Lent was 40 days fasting, meaning one meal a day and complete fasting on Friday. No rich foods were allowed. The Tuesday before lent, people of Poland used up food to not be spoiled or wasted over the lenten weeks. Families would use eggs, butter, sugar, and fruit by treating themselves one last time before Lent began with these decadent pastries. This fasting tradition started in the medieval age during the reign of King Augustus III. In the United States, Pączki Day was popular in the Polish communities from the beginning of the 20th century. In bigger cities like Detroit, Michigan; Baltimore, Maryland; Chicago, Illinois; Buffalo, New York; northeast Minneapolis, Minnesota: and especially Hamtramck, Michigan, Polish bakeries would have Pączki for sale on Fat Tuesday morning. In smaller communities, the local Polish Church Parish made and sold Pączki as a group. Pączki Day has expanded, and people heard about this Polish tradition and want to become a part of this tasty holiday. Pączki can be found up to a month before Fat Tuesday in many food stores: deli, grocery, and bakery. People cannot resist a delicious food holiday, and Pączki Day is among the best. We found some wonderful Pączki at Sarah Jane's Bakery in Northeast Minneapolis. You could also order them from Polana Polish Bakery in Chicago and have them delivered.