Traditional Polish donuts. Soft and fluffy dough, sweet icing, fruity filling. Pączki are a popular and traditional treat in Poland and they are a staple food during Fat Thursday celebrations. They are enjoyed by people of all ages and are a sweet way to celebrate the end of winter and the start of the spring season.
Prepare them yourself at home, just in time for Fat Thursday! This recipe makes about fifty donuts, but you can easily prepare them from half the portion. This is my grandma’s traditional recipe.
You can stuff them with anything you want – jam, marmalade or Nutella. However, be careful with jams containing gelatin, as it may dissolve while frying the donuts and the jam may leak out of the donuts.
Below the recipe you will find some tips and answers to frequently asked questions.
Donuts contain gluten.
The proportions given below make approximately 50 donuts.
Read the step-by-step recipe on how to prepare homemade donuts with jam and watch the video below the recipe. Also subscribe to the SaltedPasta channel on YouTube and sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss any recipes!
Polish donuts “Pączki”
Polish Pączki Recipe
- 250 ml milk
- 2 tbsp flour
- 120 g fresh yeast
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 kg flour
- 15 egg yolks
- 50 g alcohol
- 200 g butter
- 2 tsp vanila extract or vanila sugar (optional)
- 200 g sugar
- 250 ml milk
- 2 l oil for frying
- 600 g jam
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- lemon juice
- 100 ml hot water
- First, prepare the leaven. Add yeast, sugar and flour to warm milk (30-40 °C). Mix, cover and set aside for 15 minutes.250 ml milk, 2 tbsp flour, 120 g fresh yeast, 1 tbsp sugar
- When the leaven rises, start whipping the yolks with sugar. When they are fluffy, add flour, salt, milk and the risen leaven to them. Knead the dough. When the ingredients combine well, add the alcohol. At the end, add melted butter and continue kneading the dough. The dough should be smooth, elastic, easy to move away from the mixer and air bubbles should appear.Cover the dough and leave it to rise, e.g. by the radiator, for about 2 hours. If there is little space left in the bowl, you can divide the dough into portions so that it does not flow out of the bowl.1 kg flour, 15 egg yolks, 50 g alcohol, 200 g butter, 200 g sugar, 250 ml milk, salt, 2 tsp vanila extract or vanila sugar
- Sprinkle the counter top with flour. Put the dough on it and cut out small balls, e.g. with a glass. Then flatten the balls with your hand (if the dough sticks to your hands, sprinkle them with flour). Place a teaspoon of jam in the center of each circle of dough. Then glue the donuts together and roll them in flour (check how I do it in the video below the post).Cover the stuffed donuts with a cloth and let them rise for 15 minutes.600 g jam
- Fry the risen donuts in hot oil (you can also use lard). Fry the donuts until golden brown – a few minutes on each side. When the oil is well heated, change the power to medium – if the fat is too hot, the donuts may be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside.Put the fried donuts on a paper towel to get rid of excess fat.2 l oil
- Prepare the icing by mixing powdered sugar, lemon juice and hot water in a bowl. Add water in small portions until you get the consistency you want. If you prefer a thicker layer of icing on the donuts, add less water, if thinner – more.Pour the icing over the cooled donuts (the icing will run off the hot donuts). You can use a spoon for this or just dip the donuts in the bowl with the frosting.Donuts are ready, enjoy 🙂3 cups powdered sugar, lemon juice, 100 ml hot water
While preparing the dough, you can also heat the flour in a pot, but be careful not to burn it! However, I skip this step.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet
What to stuff donuts with?
You can stuff the donuts with anything you want, e.g.:
- jam (without gelatin)
- candy barrs, e.g. rafaello, kinderbueno
- peanut cream/butter, e.g. from hazelnuts
- fruit, e.g. peaches (fresh or canned)
How to make fluffy donuts?
For the donuts to be fluffy, the dough must be well risen and kneaded.
The dough must be kneaded until air bubbles appear in it. When large bubbles appear in it, it means that the dough is ready to rise. This is the secret to fluffy donuts.
What is the best flour for donuts?
Prepare donuts from wheat flour type 405-550 (all purpose flour).
What flavor is added to donuts?
No flavors are added to the donuts. If you want, you can add vanilla sugar or extract to the dough. The spirit added to the dough gives the donuts a characteristic aroma.
How to prevent fat from soaking into the donuts?
To prevent the donuts from drinking fat, spirit is added to the dough (or vinegar, but it may give the donuts a sour taste). In some recipes you can find vodka instead of spirit, but vodka contains 40% alcohol and spirit about 95%. Therefore, it is better to use spirit. It will fulfill its role better than alcohols with lower percentages.
What can you add to donuts instead of spirit?
Spirit can be replaced with vinegar, but it may give the donuts a sour taste.
Can you make donut dough with a mixer?
It is best to knead the donut dough with a planetary mixer with a yeast dough hook. You can also knead the dough by hand using a wooden spoon or a spatula, but it requires a lot of strength because the dough needs to be kneaded for up to 20 minutes.
What kind of fat is best to fry donuts in?
The smoke point is the temperature at which fat begins to decompose, changes its structure and becomes harmful to us. The pan begins to smoke, the food begins to burn and the smell of old fat fills the kitchen. It is therefore important to use appropriate fats for frying. We cannot use too high a temperature to fry donuts because the donuts will be burnt on the outside and raw on the inside. You need to heat the fat and then reduce the burner power to medium and start frying the donuts. Fry the donuts at a temperature of approximately 180°C (although I never use a thermometer). Knowing what the smoke point is and at what degrees we will fry the dish is very useful when choosing fat for frying.
Fats for frying donuts and their smoke point:
- Pork lard – 190°C
- Refined pork lard – 218ºC
- Butter -130ºC
- Clarified butter – 200ºC
- Rapeseed oil (refined) – 220ºC
Donuts are traditionally fried in lard (at least it used to be like that in my house). Now I fry donuts in rapeseed oil more often. You can also fry the pączki in clarified butter, regular non-clarified butter burns easily. Fats can also be mixed. For frying donuts, a mixture of rapeseed oil and lard in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio will work.
How to fry donuts?
Donuts should be swimming in fat. Therefore, there should be enough fat in the pot so that the donuts do not touch the bottom of the pot. It is best to use a wide pot or a deep frying pan so that the splashing fat does not burn us. Fry the donuts over medium heat for a few minutes on both sides. If the donuts start to darken quickly, it means that the fat temperature is too high and it should be reduced.
If you have no idea how long to fry the donuts, first fry the first batch, counting the time, cut one donut in half and check whether it is done inside. If the donut is raw, fry the next batch a few minutes longer.
The frying time of the donuts depends on their size and thickness of the dough, as well as on how aerated the dough is. Well-aerated donuts will be lighter and will fry faster, while poorly kneaded, dense donuts will be heavier and may need more time to fry inside. Place the fried donuts on a paper towel to remove excess fat.
What to sprinkle the donuts with?
The donuts can be covered with icing or sprinkled with powdered sugar, but in fact you can decorate the donuts with anything you want, e.g. with chocolate or royal icing (with egg whites). I always cover the donuts with an icing made of powdered sugar, hot water and lemon juice, which gives the icing a citrus aroma and emphasizes its sweet taste.
Should you fry donuts covered?
Do not fry donuts (or other things) covered! The water evaporating from the donuts would settle on the lid and then condense and fall into the fat, causing splattering! Splashing hot fat is very dangerous because it could easily burn you, so never cover deep-fried food!
Why are donuts empty inside?
You filled the donuts with jam, the donuts were well stuck together, they did not open while frying, but it turns out that the filling has disappeared?
You probably used jam with gelatin, which dissolved during frying due to the high temperature and soaked into the dough or flowed out. Therefore, jam or marmalade will be best for filling donuts. You can also look for or make your own jam from just fruit and sugar.
How long does it take to knead donut dough?
Knead the dough with 1.3 kg of flour (dough + leaven) for about 20 minutes until bubbles appear (large bubbles filled with air).
How to keep donuts fresh the next day?
If you want the donuts to stay fresh for a long time without getting stale, you can use the tangzhong method to make them, as in the recipe for Blueberry Rolls. Although I eat these donuts on the second and third day (if left) and they are still delicious 😋.
How many eggs for donuts? How many donuts per kilogram of flour?
For 1 kg of flour (without leaven), we need 15 egg yolks and 200 g of sugar. This recipe makes approximately 50 donuts.
How to stuff donuts?
I do not use a syringe or a sleeve to stuff donuts. I already fry the donuts with the filling, so no tools are needed. Raw donuts are stuffed similarly to dumplings. Cut out circles from the dough, e.g. with a glass, stretch the dough in your hands and put a portion of filling in the middle, e.g. jam. Glue the prepared donut together, taking care not to create a hole in the dough. Finally, we roll the dough to smooth out the gluing spot and set the donuts aside to rise again. Check out how to stuff donuts in the video above ⬆⬆.
Donuts that grow in the fridge
If you want, you can also prepare these donuts overnight by putting the dough in the fridge. Make the leaven and dough as in the recipe. Then place the kneaded dough in a large bowl or two so that it does not leak out in the fridge. Cover the bowls with foil and place in the refrigerator overnight. Take the dough out of the fridge in the morning. When it reaches room temperature (approx. 2-3 hours), continue as in the recipe (step 3).