Pączki are traditional Polish pastries similar to doughnuts. Our pączki are deep-fried spherical pieces of dough made of eggs, butter, sugar, fresh yeast and milk in proprietary proportion. They are filled with plum butter or rose hip marmalade, the traditional Polish fillings, and they are covered with icing. No preservatives are added.
Pączki have been popular in Poland since at least the Middle Ages. During the reign of August III in the 17th century, under the influence of French cooks who came to Poland, pączki dough was improved and pączki became lighter, spongier, and heartier.
The Polish word pączki is the plural form of pączek, which is what you call an individual doughnut. Pączek itself is a diminutive of pąk, which is the Polish word for a plant bud.
Pączki are eaten all year round in Poland, but especially on Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek), the Thursday prior to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. The traditional reason for making pączki was to use up all of the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house, because their consumption was forbidden by Catholic fasting practices during Lent.
In North America, particularly in the large Polish communities in the Midwest such as Chicago and Detroit, immigrants and locals alike celebrate Pączki Day annually. The date of this observance merges with that of the other immigrants’ pre-Lenten traditions on Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. Similarly to many sizable Polish populations in USA, here in Dallas Fort Worth area we celebrate on both days: Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday as well as many days in between.