Friday, February 9, 2024

Paczki (POONCH key)

 Recently we were talking on a zoom about paczki (POONCH key) and many wondered what they were.   Well, basically they are a jelly filled donut, you might know them as a bismark?  But I know them differently.

My Polish grandma used to make them and over time ate them all herself because she filled them with prunes, which was a traditional Polish filling.  No kid I ever knew would eat a prune even if a donut was wrapped around it. 

My Busia rolled hers in granulated sugar, she never used powdered sugar nor a glaze.  It was that sugar crunch that was traditional.  

The idea in the Old Country was to use up all the sugar, butter, lard and eggs, anything that might tempt you during Lent and get it out of the house. If it was rich and tasty and could spoil in the 40 days before Easter you used it up.  This started in the early 1700s.  This was traditionally a Fat THURSDAY thing, clearing out the cupboards of fattening, deliciousness before Lent.  Now, it's thought of as a Fat Tuesday thing to gorge yourself on donuts and decadence.  Back when I guess you needed the whole weekend to get the job done.  Now Fat Tuesday is marketed at Paczki Day and lines form. 

Many years ago bakeries began to really push this paczki thing and marketed them to the masses.  And thus the changes came.  Way back you could still find ethnic bakeries make paczki with prunes  but if they were going to expand their following and appeal to the masses they needed to be filled with other more popular fillings.  And cover them in different sugars, glazes, and even plain.  

Now you can get custard, cream, blueberry, raspberry, apple, lemon, strawberry, etc. And I can't find any with prunes.  Not where the masses shop.  If you found a bakery in a Polish neighborhood I'm sure they would offer prunes, but maybe not. Prunes have a reputation.

It's been many, many years since I've indulged in paczki (I know there is not "N" in the spelling but there IS in the prouncing) but since we recently had the conversation on zoom for the sake of research I went in search of some.  

Our local grocery store stocks them this way, mountains of them. And they start pushing them weeks and weeks ahead of time.  This grocery store started piling them up immediately after Christmas. But I am a bit of a pastry snob.  I don't want to buy a box of something with a sell by date stamped on them.  I want my baked goods the day they were made.  So I didn't buy any of these.

PH and I found a bakery. We had choices of flavors we could buy in singles.  For the sake of research you know, I bought blueberry, raspberry and strawberry.  And all are/were delicious.  

But if you aren't Polish nor feel the need to purge your house of anything with lard, butter, sugar and eggs you can go to the bakery anytime, any day and buy a Bismark.  It's the same thing. 


  1. Fried dough of any kind is my weakness. After seeing your pictures I might need to go for a doughnut run. I have no Polish ancestry, just a lot of steady people who like sweet things. It's all good.

  2. Thanks, Denice, for sharing this history of paczki. I love history! It is also fun to read that your grandmother was Polish. Fascinating! I hope you know your heritage story of how your family came to America. It sounds very interesting.

  3. Thanks for the history lesson Denice, sorry to miss the zoom meeting, maybe next time