Not being Catholic, I didn’t observe Lent. I didn’t know all of the history and traditions of Lent. I did know pancakes were big on Shrove Tuesday, but didn’t know why, I just liked pancakes! A little research will teach you that Shrove Tuesday is also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (which is simply French for Fat Tuesday). Simple enough. Shrove Tuesday is a reminder that you are entering a season of penance, if you are Catholic.
So, if Lenten fasting means you give up rich foods as part of your penance, you need to go through the larder and use up all of the eggs, butter, etc. Therefore, the day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, means you eat well, you eat a lot. They certainly didn’t throw away perfectly good food! Indeed not, they ate it!
Ta-Da! Fat Tuesday!
I sure hope I have that right!
So, out of all the Fat Tuesday traditional foods that I have tried, my very favorite is a Polish donut called Paczki, a rich donut usually (though not always) filled with jam (traditionally prune or raspberry). Similar to the German Bismarck or Berliner , these round rolls (pronounced "POHNCH-kee") are made with a yeast-raised egg batter. Who doesn’t love a warm, fresh from the fryer, donut? So, here is the recipe, just in time for tomorrow, Fat Tuesday. (It took me a while, but I have finally gotten to the recipe!) Enjoy! I found this recipe some time ago, I think on About.com/Eastern European Foods
1 1/2 cups warm milk (no warmer than 110 degrees)
2 packages active dry yeast (remember to proof yeast before you begin)
1/2 cup sugar
4 ounces (1 stick) room-temperature butter
1 large room-temperature egg
3 large room-temperature egg yolks
1 tablespoon brandy or rum
1 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 gallon oil for deep frying
Granulated sugar (optional)
Confectioner's sugar (optional)
Fruit paste for filling (optional)
• Add yeast to warm milk, stir to dissolve and set aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Beat in eggs, brandy and salt until well-incorporated.
• Still using the paddle attachment, add 4 1/2 cups flour alternately with the milk-yeast mixture and beat for 5 or more minutes by machine and longer by hand until smooth. My grandmother used to beat the dough with a wooden spoon until it blistered. Dough will be very slack. If too soft, add remaining 1/2 cup flour, but no more.
• Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, anywhere from 1 to 2 1/2 hours . Punch down and let rise again.
• Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Pat or roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut rounds with 3-inch biscuit cutter. Remove scraps, and re-roll and re-cut. Cover and let rounds rise until doubled in bulk, 30 minutes or longer.
• Heat oil to 350 degrees in large skillet or Dutch oven. Place pączki top-side down (the dry side) in the oil a few at a time and fry 2 to 3 minutes or until bottom is golden brown. Flip them over and fry another 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure the oil doesn't get too hot so the exterior doesn't brown before the interior is done. Test a cool one to make sure it's cooked through. Adjust cooking time and oil heat accordingly.
• Drain pączki on paper towels or brown paper bags, and roll in granulated sugar while still warm. Note: You can poke a hole in the side of the pączki and, using a pastry bag, squeeze in a dollop of the filling of choice. Then dust filled pączki with granulated sugar, confectioners' sugar or glaze.
• Darn the luck! Pączki don't keep well, so gobble them up the same day you make them or freeze.
• Note: Always use caution when working with hot oil, especially around children. Have a fire extinguisher designed for grease fires at the ready.
|Okay, No more blogging today. Zeus is bored.|