How to Make Paczki (Polish Donuts)

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Paczki are delicious Polish donuts filled with fruit or custard. They're traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday in the United States and Fat Thursday in Poland. However, you don't have to wait for these celebrations (or book a trip to Poland) to enjoy freshly made paczki. With the following recipe, you can make paczki at home complete with your favorite fillings. Enjoy!

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Things You'll Need

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1/4-ounce packet)

  • 1 cup whole milk, lukewarm

  • 2 large egg yolks

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more as needed)

  • Vegetable oil for frying

  • 3/4 cup granulated or powdered sugar

  • 1 cup jam, custard or Nutella

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 1

In a large bowl, combine the yeast and milk. Let it sit for 5 minutes until the yeast slightly puffs up.

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 2

Beat the egg yolks until creamy, about 1 minute.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 3

To the yeast mixture, add the egg yolks, melted butter, vanilla extract, sugar and salt. Mix well.

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 4

Add 1 cup of flour and mix until fully combined. Add another 1 cup of flour and then mix again.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 5

Add the remaining flour and stir. As the dough forms, you'll need to mix it by hand. If it's too sticky, gradually add more flour.

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 6

Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Knead it until it is tacky and smooth.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 7

Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover it with a clean, damp towel.

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 8

Leave the bowl in a warm area. Let it sit for 60 to 90 minutes or until the dough doubles in size.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 9

Gently punch the dough to deflate it.

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 10

On a floured surface, roll out the dough until it is 1/2 inch thick. Cut out 3-inch circles with a round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass. Re-roll the scraps and cut out more circles.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Tip

Dip the cutter or glass into flour before cutting the dough.

Step 11

Place the circles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let them sit for 30 minutes or until the dough doubles in size and puffs up.

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 12

Add vegetable oil to a large, deep skillet, filling it just under halfway. Heat the oil to 350°F. Add two to four paczki to the oil, making sure to avoid overcrowding.

Fry for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip them over with tongs and fry for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove them and place them on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining dough.

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Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Tip

To ensure the oil is at the right heat, make a test paczki first. Add a piece of dough to the oil, fry on both sides and then let it cool slightly. Break open the donut to make sure it is thoroughly cooked.

Step 13

Add granulated or powdered sugar to a shallow dish. When the paczki have slightly cooled but are still warm, coat both sides with sugar. If you're not eating the paczki until later, wait to coat them with sugar.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 14

With a sharp knife, cut a slit on the side of each paczki.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 15

Scoop jam, custard or Nutella into a large pastry bag with a long tip. If you are using jam with chunks of fruit, use a tip with a slightly wider opening. Squeeze it into the paczki.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

Step 16

Paczki taste best when they are freshly baked. If you must store your paczki, do so in an airtight container at room temperature for two days. You may need to reheat them in the microwave and add another coating of sugar, as it will dissolve during storage.

Image Credit: Kirsten Nunez

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