Paczki (Polish doughnuts)

My mom’s side of the family is Polish. Whenever we all get together, Paczki (Polish doughnuts)the topic always seems to make its way to food. Who made the best kielbasa? Or the best pierogies?  I always hear about my mom’s Aunt Vicky, and her famous paczki (Polish doughnuts). Unfortunately, no one kept Aunt Vicky’s recipe.

So I did some scouring, and I found a pretty traditional recipe from one of my favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker. Many traditional recipes, including the Brown Eyed Baker’s, use a fruit preserve filling, however I chose not to. When the doughnuts were done frying, I simply rolled them in granulated and powdered sugar. Please note: These doughnuts are not super sweet inside, so if you’d like a sweeter doughnut, either add more sugar to the dough, or consider filling the inside of your doughnuts with something sweet.

PACZKI

Ingredients:
2 cups whole milk, warmed to 110ºF
4½ teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
1 cup, plus 1 pinch granulated sugar, divided
5-6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 egg
4 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1¼ teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Peanut oil or canola oil for frying
Powdered and granulated sugars, for coating

Directions:

  1. Heat milk to 110ºF. Pour the warm milk into the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until it has become bubbly.
  2. Add 2 cups of flour to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a mostly smooth batter forms. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot for 30 minutes. The mixture should rise and be a bit bubbly.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolks until pale yellow and frothy. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and salt, and whisk until combined and smooth.
  4. Attach the dough hook to your mixer, add the egg mixture to the dough, and mix on medium-low speed until almost completely combined. Add the melted butter and mix to combine.
  5. Gradually add 3 more cups of flour to the mixture and continue to knead until a very soft dough comes together. (The dough will not clean the sides of the bowl or form a ball. It will actually be a bit sticky.) If necessary, add up to another cup of flour, a spoonful at a time, until the dough forms.
  6. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl and place onto a floured work surface. Push the dough down into an even layer with your fingers. Sprinkle flour on the top of dough and roll it out to ½-inch thickness (I just used my hands to do this). If the dough doesn’t hold its shape and springs back, cover with a damp towel and let rest for a few minutes before trying again.
  8. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter (I used a 2 ½-inch biscuit cutter) to cut out rounds of dough. Transfer the dough rounds to baking sheets lined with parchment paper and sprinkled with flour. Gather the scraps of dough and roll out again. Continue cutting the dough until you have used it all up.
  9. Cover the baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled in size (about 30 minutes).
  10. While the dough is resting for the last time, heat about 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat to 350ºF. Carefully lower about five paczki into the oil at a time (you don’t want to over-crowd the pot) and fry until the bottom of each is golden brown. Carefully turn them over and continue to fry until the other side is golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove them to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Allow the oil to come back to temperature, then repeat until all of the paczki have been fried.
  11. Allow the paczki to cool. Roll them in either granulated sugar, powdered sugar, or both.
  12. The paczki can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

A little something extra:
If you’d like a filling for your paczki, when the doughnuts are cool enough to handle after frying, use a filling tip to pipe fruit preserves into the sides of the paczki. Then roll in sugar.

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