A sweet treat before a season of sacrifice: Kramarczuk’s to pop out paczki

| February 10, 2015 | 1 Comment

paczkiIn the early morning hours next Tuesday, bakers in the back at Kramarczuk’s in Minneapolis will carry on a tradition Polish immigrants brought to the new world, making light, sweet, soft-yet-crunchy “paczki” (pronounced “punch-kee).

The 60-year-old bakery and deli on Hennepin Avenue will open at 7 a.m. Feb. 17 — an hour early that day — so folks can pick up their orders for the doughy, filled pastries that are a once-a-year item.

It’s a treat for Fat Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, born of the need for households in the old country to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the house in preparation for the Lenten season’s fasting, which would forbid their consumption.

Nick Kramarczuk, a grandson of the iconic deli’s founders, said paczki are a bit like bismarcks, but not as heavy and a bit darker.

“Paczki are fried a little longer, and the dough is not as sweet and not as fluffy as a bismarck,” Kramarczuk said.

He rattled off the ingredients for paczki — flour, sugar, eggs, shortening, butter, yeast and salt — as though he’d been doing this for more than 20 years.

Of course, he has.

“Since I was 12,” he said with a chuckle.

The dough is allowed to rise twice before being fried then filled. The process takes about six hours.

“Traditionally the filling is poppy seed, prune and apricot,” Kramarczuk said. “This year we’re doing apricot, chocolate-hazelnut, raspberry and custard.”

But if you want some, you’d better call in an order.

Jeff Gurak has worked at Kramarczuk’s long enough to remember when customers would line up outside the door for the Fat Tuesday paczki.

“It used to be pretty crazy,” Gurak said. “There would be big lines, because it was first come, first served, until we ran out.”

The store now has an ordering system — and paczki are just as popular as ever.

“Let me see,” Gurak said checking his list. He counts off by the dozen, finally saying, “We’ll probably sell 400 to 500 paczki.”

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Category: Faith and Culture