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Traditional Pączki Posted by on Feb 21, 2012 in cooking, Culture, food

Donuts are a traditional food the week before Lent or the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. For many Polish families pączki are a treat for Sundays, holidays and other special occasions.

They have long been my favorite.I tried to make them few times, but none have ever come up to the hundreds made by my mother during my childhood.
The following pączki recipe is one that I have come up with by trying different ones in Polish cookbooks. This is the hard part of writing down a yeast recipe. I watched my mom so much that I knew what that dough should be like. If you have never made yeast dough before, just knead and add flour until the dough becomes easy to handle, but not tough.

A plate of donuts with steaming coffee, tea, or chocolate will delight everyone. Anytime from now until hot weather is good pączki weather, so try them now.


Good luck!

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

2 rises: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 51 minutes

Makes 2 dozen


1 1/2 cups warm milk (no warmer than 110 degrees)

2 packages active dry yeast (remember to proof yeast before you begin)

1/2 cup sugar

4 ounces (1 stick) room-temperature butter

1 large room-temperature egg

3 large room-temperature egg yolks

1 tablespoon brandy or rum

1 teaspoon salt

4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour

1 gallon oil for deep frying

Granulated sugar (optional)

Confectioner’s sugar (optional)

Fruit paste for filling (optional)


Add yeast to warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, brandy and salt until well-incorporated.

Still using the paddle attachment, add 4 1/2 cups flour alternately with the milk-yeast mixture and beat for 5 or more minutes by machine and longer by hand until smooth.  If too soft, add remaining 1/2 cup flour, but no more.

Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 hours. Punch down and let rise again.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat or roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut rounds with 3-inch biscuit cutter. Remove scraps, and re-roll and re-cut. Cover and let rounds rise until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes or longer.

Heat oil to 350 degrees in large skillet or Dutch oven. Place pączki top-side down (the dry side) in the oil a few at a time and fry 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Flip them over and fry another 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure the oil doesn’t get too hot so the exterior doesn’t brown before the interior is done. Test a cool one to make sure it’s cooked through. Adjust cooking time and oil heat accordingly.

Drain pączki on paper towels or brown paper bags, and roll in granulated sugar while still warm. Note: You can poke a hole in the side of the pączki and, using a pastry bag, squeeze in a dollop of the filling of choice. Then dust filled pączki with granulated sugar, confectioners’ sugar or glaze.


Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author:Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew up in Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. jonpgh:

    In the USA, plural is the same as singular as far as I know, as in “give me a Paczki” or “get me a dozen of Paczki,” sounds ok, right? But in Poland it’s one Paczek, two paczki.

  2. Marie:

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe…brings back such lovely memories.
    Yumm…can’t wait to make some!

  3. nhtim:

    I grew up with this tradition and never realized it. In my family, after church every Sunday, we would go to the Bakery and get donuts to have with our brunch. Isn’t great to learn something new. I guess the day we stop learning is the day we die.

  4. diane:

    @jonpgh, in the US, the singular is paczek and the plural is paczki. Most people just don’t know the proper tenses/pronunciations.

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