Paczkis (pronounced punchkeys) are a Fat Tuesday tradition in the Detroit Metro area.
The skinny on Fat Tuesday’s favorite treat
HAMTRAMCK — Fat Tuesday is here and David Monikean is ready now that he’s bought four dozen paczki from his favorite bakery.
Like many Metro Detroiters who have fond, sugar-filled memories of these treats, the Port Huron man makes an annual trip to this Polish enclave, which helped usher the pastries into stardom.
“You can buy paczki (pronounced POONCH-key) anywhere, but in Hamtramck, it’s a big party,” said Suzy Ognanovich, whose husband’s family has owned New Palace Bakery for more than 30 years.
If you want to partake in Paczki Day, here are some things to know about these sugar-coated pastries that are bursting with filling:
Paczki pack a lot of punch
They contain, “lots of butter, sugar, eggs, flour and a lot of labor of love,” said Sandy Bakic, a second-generation baker at New Martha Washington Bakery.
A typical 5-ounce paczek (say POON-chek) contains about 420 calories and 25 or more grams of fat. It’s loaded with refined carbohydrates. The good news? They’re cooked in vegetable oil, not lard as they once were.
To burn off a single paczek, you’ll need to run for 30-47 minutes or ride a bicycle for 40-60 minutes. It’ll take up to two hours to walk it off, says Beaumont Hospital.
Don’t call ’em jelly doughnuts
While the two may look similar, Bakic says that’s like comparing a cake to a torte.
Paczki are made with richer dough and have a more rounded shape, like a baseball. They call for more sugar, butter and eggs than a regular jelly doughnut and bakers need to let paczki dough rise three separate times before they can be fried.
The result is richer and spongier than a doughnut.
As you can tell from the article, it’s a Polish tradition. Or so the people here will tell you. If you listen to the people in Detroit, Poland is a country filled with people running around with Paczkis aplenty. Stand on any street corner and a Paczki will appear magically in front of you, just waiting for you to bite into it’s lard and jelly filled mushiness.
I’m from Chicago. Chicago has more Polish people than any other city in the world other than Warsaw — no joke. I’ve spent a lot of time on the Nothwest side along Milwaukee Avenue visiting Polish restaurants and bars. Never a Paczki in sight. Not a one.
Lot’s of great sausages and fresh pierogis, but — no Paczkis.
Last time I was there, I asked at a bakery for a Paczki. They spoke mostly Polish and I wasn’t able to decipher exactly (my Polish is somewhat limited — jak się masz?) what they were saying to me, but It sounded a lot like — what the heck are you talking about, get out of here!
I talked to some Polish friends and they explained that while they had heard of Paczkis, they are by no means a national obsession. My friends described them as “gross”. Something your grandmother might force on you once in a while, but not something you really cared much for.
I tend to go along with them. Paczkis are big dough balls with something gooey squirted inside of them. No thanks.
Detroit, you can have your (fake) Polish tradition.