3.04.2014

Fat Tuesday aka Paczki Day

Since we've moved to Chicagoland, one thing that they have here that we didn't have in the part of Texas where I grew up is a large contingency of Eastern European immigrants.  We live out in the burbs and my father-in-law told me that I needed to try a bakery near where he grew up called Ingram's Busy Bee Bakery, which is an old Polish bakery.


I went to their website to check it out and found that they made these fried dough delicacies called Paczki's on Fat Tuesday.  I had never heard of them, though I'm quite aware that many cultures have some sort of enriched dough treat on Fat Tuesday to get rid of ingredients before Lent.  Anyhow, my curiosity was peaked, this morning I left the house around 6:30am and arrived at the bakery at 6:50am (ish) to find a rather long line down the side of the building.


 Clearly, I was not prepared for the craze that is Paczki Day!  I stood in line for almost 40 minutes in balmy 15 degree weather for a chance to buy some fried filled dough.  Really?  Did I mention that I'm 38 weeks pregnant?!?!  Oh, and I love doughnuts!


They had staff passing out order forms so that you could make your selections before you got to the front of the line so that the process would be somewhat expedited.  If you planned ahead and pre-ordered you could bypass the line and go right in...that was clearly the way to go!


The flavor options were: APRICOT, BAVARIAN CREAM W/POWDER, BAVARIAN CREAM W/CHOC. ICING, BUTTERCREAM, CHOC. BUTTERCREAM, CHOC. CUSTARD, FUDGE, LEMON, PRUNE, RASPBERRY, APPLE, BLUEBERRY, CHEESE, POPPYSEED,FRESH STRAWBERRY, CHEESE & BLUEBERRY, CHEESE & CHERRY, CHEESE & CHOC. CHIP, CHEESE & STRAWBERRY, CHERRY


I ended up going with the bavarian cream w/ chocolate icing, apple, chocolate custard, fresh strawberry, cheese, strawberry & cheese, and cherry & cheese.  If you were counting yes that makes 7! I wanted lemon but they ran out before I got to the front so I made a snap decision with the cherry & cheese.

Today they cost $1.95 each if you had not pre-ordered.  On a normal day they range from $1.50 to $1.95 depending on the filling you choose.


What you really want to know is how they taste...right???  Well, I must say, after all of the hoopla that I went through to get these, I had pretty high expectations.  When I got home I divided them all in half, and then in quarters and Dan and I each tried 1 quarter of each variety.


Our assessment is that the bavarian w/chocolate icing was the best.  However, overall we were both a bit underwhelmed.  The dough was pillowy but it had a distinct aftertaste of shortening which I find to be unpleasant.  Second, none of the fillings were very flavorful.  The bavarian was creamy and smooth but literally tasted like nothing; the chocolate icing was rich and gave the Paczki a more donut-esk feel.



The plain cheese was a whipped cream cheese filling which would have been nice had the dough portion not had the shortening aftertaste.

The two fruit options that we chose were apple and fresh strawberry.  The apple tasted like canned apple pie filling and the strawberry had fresh strawberries in it but it was mixed with an electric red strawberry gel that gave the Paczki an artificial flavor despite the "fresh" ingredients.

The strawberry & cheese was probably the best of the "fruit" options we tried; the cherry I found to taste like bad cherry pie filling and I just couldn't stomach it.

The chocolate custard was basically chocolate pudding (which is in fact a chocolate custard) but my point is that it tasted like jell-o chocolate pudding and not a rich and creamy chocolate pastry cream which is traditionally used as a donut filling.



Overall, I had fun participating in my first Paczki day.  The folks that I was in line with were cordial and kind and made the wait much more endurable.  I can definitely see that these would be a fun treat to bring to an office on a Tuesday and why they are so popular.  However, I would definitely advise that you pre-order to avoid the line!


Next year I think that I'll try and make my own version!

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