What is Fat Tuesday? And a Paczki for That Matter?!
Fat Tuesday is the major reason I miss Steeles Market, oh, they had the best pastries on Fat Tuesday. Yes, for me it's always been a day of pastries preceded by a a weekend of friends and great food. But as it were, there is a little more to it.
Surely you have heard of Mardi Gras, well it's a great celebration and just one reason people visit New Orleans, Louisiana. (New Orleans is not a state... it's in Louisiana! LOL) Maybe you knew, maybe not, but Mardi in French means Tuesday and Gras= Fat.
Mardi Gras is a legal holiday in New Orleans. It is scheduled to occur 46 days before Easter. Since the actual date Easter occurs on changes yearly, Mardi Gras can happen on any Tuesday between February 3 and March 9.
For two centuries it has been an annual event in New Orleans, except during the two World Wars.
The pastry I remember from Steeles Market is a fantastically tasty ball of goodness called a Paczki. It somewhat represents all the bad rolled up into one and commonly eaten the day before Lent, guess its like getting the bad out of the way before beginning Lent.
This is not an original recipe, nor one from you, but I did find one for us to maybe try together on this Fat Tuesday.
- 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
- 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 or follow this Quick Tip to cut the rise time. 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.