Vodka: the vital ingredient in Paczki Day

Photo of famous Zagoździński pastry shop in Warsaw: Shutterstock / Cristina A

Pączki, (pronounced as “pohnch-kee”), are fried doughnuts, sprinkled with sugar, golden brown on both sides and with a lighter-coloured ring around their centre. These leavened Polish doughnuts are fried and coated with icing sugar or fried orange zest and filled with various jams and jellies.

Paczki have a long history in Poland, dating back centuries, and are particularly associated with carnival and Mardi Gras, known in Poland as Tłusty Czwartek. As with pancakes in UK and torrijas in Spain, paczki are a way to use up all of the ingredients that are forbidden in Lent, including one that sets them apart: Polish vodka.

Vodka is incorporated into paczki dough which prevents them absorbing too much frying oil and this makes them crispier and lighter than a normal doughnut or buñuelos here in Spain.

Pączki have been known in Poland since at least the Middle Ages. The dough was improved to make it lighter, fluffier and tougher thanks to the influence of French cooks who came to Poland during the reign of Augustus III.

They are eaten during carnival season and bakeries that prepare the pączki are known for their hours-long queues, especially on Maundy Thursday, the day when the biggest sales of pączki occur. This year, Paczki Day lands on February 12, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the six weeks of Lent.

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Written by

Kevin Fraser Park

Kevin was born in Scotland and worked in marketing, running his own businesses in UK, Italy and, for the last 8 years, here in Spain. He moved to the Costa del Sol in 2016 working initially in real estate. He has a passion for literature and particularly the English language which is how he got into writing.

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