A repeat post with a few minor updates; I won’t be eating these today, but remember them fondly.
It’s Pączki Day, and in Detroit that means you should be sure to wear your stretchy pants or, as my old friend Denise used to say, your expando clothes!
Pączki, or Polish doughnuts, are eaten on Fat Thursday in Poland and Fat Tuesday in the United States. It’s the last splurge before Lent begins.
When I was still working, my employer provided huge boxes of them with every available filling next to the coffee machines in various areas of the building. Considering that the company is owned by Italians, I thought that was darned nice of them. My personal favorites are custard-filled and lemon-filled, but they are all delicious (and fattening.) Yum!
Depending on the size and filling, each pączki will be from 400 – 700 calories. Since they are deep fried, they aren’t low-fat either, up to 20 grams per serving.
According to Wikipedia:
Pączki are made from especially rich dough containing eggs, fats, sugar, yeast and sometimes milk. They feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar. Powidl (stewed plum jam) and wild rose hip jam are traditional fillings, but many others are used as well, including strawberry, Bavarian cream, blueberry, custard, raspberry, and apple.
The traditional reason for making pączki was to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by Christian fasting practices during the season of Lent.
In North America, particularly the large Polish communities of Chicago, Detroit, and other large cities across the Midwest and Northeast, Pączki Day is celebrated annually by immigrants and locals alike. With its sizable Polish population, Chicago celebrates the festival on both Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday; pączki are also often eaten on Casimir Pulaski Day. In Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, South Bend, and Windsor, Pączki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday.
The Pączki Day celebrations in some areas are even larger than many celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day. In Hamtramck, Michigan, an enclave of Detroit, there is an annual Pączki Day (Shrove Tuesday) Parade, which has gained a devoted following. Throughout the Metro Detroit area, it is so widespread that many bakeries attract lines of customers for pączki on Pączki Day.
If you wish to indulge in this treat on February 16, Hour Detroit recommends some novel twists on the traditional:
Paczki Day — taking place this year on Feb. 16 — may look a little different due to the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still satisfy your sweet tooth. Bakeries, bars, and markets across metro Detroit are offering classic favorites, like custard-filled versions of the Polish donuts, to inventive treats, like vodka distilled with raspberry paczki. Check out these offerings and more below.
Blake’s Cider Mill and Bakehouse 46
The cider mill and its bakeshop are offering paczki for the very first time. Flavors include cherry, apple, custard, Bavarian crème, lemon, and raspberry. Paczki are $2.25 each, and $12.95 for a half-dozen and $19.95 for a dozen. Pre-orders are accepted through Feb. 7 and can be placed online for Feb. 14-16 pickup. Limited paczki will also be available on Feb. 16. Blake’s Cider Mill, 17985 Armada Road, Armada, 586-784-5343; blakesfarms.com; and Bakehouse 46, 136 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham, 248-593-1903; and 205 S. Main St., Rochester; 248-651-5401; bakehouse46.com
New Palace Bakery
This Hamtramck staple bills itself as the “Paczki Headquarters.” This year, the shop is offering limited flavors due to the pandemic, but there’s still plenty to choose from. Opt for Dozen #1, which includes strawberry, lemon, custard, and apple paczki, or Dozen #2 with strawberry cheesecake, buttercream, triple chocolate, and peanut butter and jelly. You can also purchase a half-dozen of raspberry or custard paczki, or a three-piece box with prune paczki. The bakery opens at 3 a.m. on Feb. 16, and pre-orders can be placed via phone, Monday through Saturday. New Palace Bakery, 9833 Joseph Campau St., Hamtramck; 313-875-1334; newpalacebakery.com
Cantoro Italian Market & Trattoria
Cantoro’s Plymouth location’s cannoli paczki are available for purchase starting Feb. 1. Other paczki flavors — custard, raspberry, lemon, and apple — will be available on Feb. 8. For orders that are a dozen or more, the market is taking pre-orders over the phone. Cantoro Italian Market & Trattoria, 15550 N. Haggerty Road, Plymouth; 734-420-1100; cantoromarket.com
Each year, this Hamtramck bar throws an epic Paczki Day bash. While Small’s is still figuring out what Paczki Day may look like due to COVID restrictions, customers can expect Paczki Bombs — a paczki with a shot of liquor in it — to-go on Feb. 16. The bar is also selling kielbasa, pierogi, and kielbasa fried rice. Small’s, 10339 Conant St., Hamtramck; 313-873-1117; smallsbardetroit.com
Since I have no pączki at my house, I will just savor the memories! If you would like to try making them yourself, here’s a YouTube video for a less caloric baked version:
Whatever we indulge in today to celebrate the last hurrah before Ash Wednesday, it all represents preparation for the beginning of Lent, the 40-day period of fasting, self-examination and penitence, leading up to the death and rebirth at Easter.
It is a season in which we follow Jesus the Savior from His temptation in the wilderness, to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and to the cross on Good Friday. Lent is a season of hope. It looks to the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world and anticipates the joy of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.