Recipe #7: Pączki
It’s long been said that the way to a person’s heart is through yummy food. So it’s no coincidence that certain foods like figs, oysters, and chocolate – all considered to be natural aphrodisiacs – show up on Valentine’s Day menus across the country, year after year. But did you know that a doughnut can also work as an aphrodisiac?
Recent food studies suggest that the way aphrodisiacs actually work is through the power of suggestion – and during various studies conducted at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, it was discovered that while women were aroused by smells of chocolate and lavender, what really got men excited was the smell of doughnuts.
I mean, why not!? Who doesn’t love deep-fried dough? So today, we’re breaking away from the conventional Valentine’s Day chocolates, by offering up a recipe for pączki – the classic Polish doughnuts.
Pączki are typically filled with fruit preserves (the best being ROSE – as if doughnuts aren’t romantic enough in and of themselves) or other sweet filling – and are traditionally eaten on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday (the Polish equivalent of Mardi Gras). This tradition evolved out of the very practical desire to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs, and fruit in the house before the start of Lent. Sounds yummy already!
2 oz dry-active yeast
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lemon zest
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/8 tsp salt 1 Tbsp rum or vodka
3 Tbsp butter melted, cooled
1/2 lb jam or nutella (might not be Polish, but it is delicious)
6 cups peanut oil, for frying
1/3 cup powdered sugar, for sprinkling
1. Combine yeast with 2 tsp sugar, 3/4 cup flour, and 1/2 cup milk. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size.
2. Beat in egg, egg yolks, and rest of the sugar. Add the rest of the flour, milk, lemon zest and juice, salt, vanilla, and rum. Knead until smooth.
3. Add the oil in 1 Tbsp at a time until incorporated, and knead for another 10 minutes.
4. Cover the dough with a damp towel and leave in a warm place until the it doubles in size.
5. Roll out dough 3/4″ thick. Cut 1 1/2″ circles and place 1 tsp of filling in the center of each piece. Place another circle on top and seal the edges. Note: if dough is dry, moisten edges with water before pinching together.
6. Heat oil in a large pot to 375 degrees F. Fry the doughnuts on both sides, a few at a time until golden brown. Remove the donuts and let drain on paper towels.
7. Before serving, sift powdered sugar over the warm doughnuts.
Speaking of sexy – in Polish, “pączki” means “bud” – like a flower bud.