You don’t have to be Polish to polish off a Paczki.
No matter how you say it – ‘pooch-key’ or ‘punch-key’ or ‘poonch-key – a Paczki is one of those pastries that makes you go “mmmmmm” with every bite.
“We have been selling it for at least 12 to 15 years,” said Mary Peazel, co-owner of Courtland Bakery. “It all started with the Retailers Bakery Association of America. My husband and I have both been directors for that organization, they started the tradition. It’s a big deal around Windsor and Detroit, and Hamtramck – a really Polish district in Michigan, and since we were connected with the organization we thought we’d get on board.”
The round, sugar-coated, fruit-filled Polish pastry is traditionally served every year on Shrove Tuesday. Originally, they were made for practical reasons, to use up lard and eggs not to be eaten during Lent. The term Paczki itself means ‘little package’ in Polish.
“This time of the year is extremely slow and it gives all the bakers at this time of the year a shot in the arm,” said Peazel noting this year Courtland Bakery offered Paczki over a four-week period from Jan. 15 to Feb. 12.
“It finishes on Shrove Tuesday. That’s when you have the Mardi Gras and celebrations before you get into Lent. We don’t bake anymore until next year.”
Paczki are extra large balls of dough, rich in egg yolks and deep friend like a doughnut. They are filled with a variety of fillings including cherry, blueberry, apple, raspberry, strawberry, custard, lemon, and traditional plum.
They are often topped with a smooth sugar glaze or sometimes rolled in fine granulated sugar.
“The traditional one is plum – everybody likes plum. We make nine different flavours here and we have four different toppings, so it gives people a lot of choices.”
Peazel encourages people to pre-order their Paczki by Monday, Feb. 11 for Shrove Tuesday purchases.
“They ask for it all year long. They say how come you only make it a certain time of the year? I said first of all, it’s the tradition and if we made it all the time, it wouldn’t be special.”