In Dining

There are paczki aplenty available in the Milwaukee area, including those Canfora Bakery.

A word on paczki and 12 spots to get your fix

Lent is quickly approaching. And that means a host of Milwaukee bakeries are battening down their hatches and baking up a storm in preparation for "Pączki Day," which takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

The Polish holiday has long provided a mechanism for folks to clear out their larders before beginning the traditional 40-day Lenten fast (in fact, in the Middle Ages, precursors to the sweet treats were actually filled with pork and fried in lard). As a result, pączki are a particularly indulgent treat that's set aside for one special day each year.

It's important to note that pączki aren't your average jelly-filled doughnuts. In fact, what sets them apart is their dough, which is a richer, often sweeter yeast dough incorporating eggs, butter and often milk.

With that in mind, it's never too early to start thinking about pączki. After all, if we were in Poland, where they celebrate TłustyTłustT Czwartek (Fat Thursday), we'd be even closer to indulging in celebratory deep-fried deliciousness.

Before you say the word

Now that you know the difference between pączki and doughnuts, it's time to respect the word pączki and use it properly. So, before you venture out into the world and start throwing around the term pączki (or even worse, pączkis), here's a quick lesson in how to really pronounce it.

Pączki is pronounced PAWNCH-key and is the plural form of the word (really the only one you need, since you can't eat just one, right?). Pączek, on the other hand is pronounced PAWN-check and refers to just one lonely Polish-style confection.

If you'd prefer, here's a video that illustrates the point quite well.

Where to get pączki

So yeah, you can just grab a few jelly doughnuts at the grocery store (because these days, almost every one will have them; and they'll call them pączki to boot). However, since you've got time to think about it, here are some spots you might want to check out for your pączki fix.

Keep in mind: there is a superstition that if you don't eat at least one pączek on Shrove Tuesday, bad luck will follow you for the rest of the year. So, we'd advise erring on the side of caution and eating at least one.

1. Aggie's Bakery

7328 W. Greenfield Ave., (414) 482-1288
aggiesbakery.com

Handmade pączki are the special of the day at Aggie's Bakery, which offers flavors including apple, blueberry, buttercream, custard, lemon, prune, raspberry and strawberry. Purchase one for $1.50, six for $7.95 or a dozen for $15.95. King Cakes (complete with the baby baked right in) are also available in four different sizes, priced $14.95-49.95. Pre-order online for pick-up.

2. Canfora Bakery

1100 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 486-7747
canforabakeryinc.com

Seems everyone is a little bit Polish on Pączki Day. Even Canfora, one of Milwaukee's classic Italian bakeries, offers a nice selection of delicious pączki in flavors including raspberry, lemon, apple, prune, custard and raisin for $1.25 each or $15 per dozen.

3. Cranky's

6901 W. North Ave., (414) 258-5282
crankyals.com

The folks at Cranky's aren't really cranky, although they will get cranky if you mistake a regular old bismarck (jelly doughnut) for a pączek. This year, they'll have raspberry, strawberry, prune, apricot, Bavarian cream, blueberry and lemon. Pączki are $2 each or $22 per assorted dozen. There will also be king cakes and doughnut king cakes for the taking ($30, while supplies last). Pre-orders are recommended and can be placed online for pick-up. Cranky's will be open 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fat Tuesday.

4. Grebe's Bakery

5132 W. Lincoln Ave., (414) 543-7000
grebesbakery.com

Grebe's has the goods every year, and this year will be no exception. Choose from flavors like apple with caramel icing, blueberry with blueberry icing, glazed prune, buttercream with chocolate icing and white drizzle, raspberry with sugar or icing, custard with chocolate icing, lemon with powdered sugar, blueberry with blueberry icing, sweet cheese with cinnamon sugar or apple with caramel icing.

Each year, they also feature a brand new flavor. This year it's the MCFI Very Berry, which will be sold in six-packs for $8 each. The special offering will be available by pre-order only; a portion of the proceeds will support the work of the Milwaukee Center for Independence.

Pricing for regular pączki is $1 each or $12 per bakers dozen. Pączki will be available on both Monday, Feb. 24 and Tuesday, Feb. 25.

5. Holey Moley Coffee + Doughnuts

316 N Milwaukee St., (414) 308-1616
holeymoleydoughnuts.com

Holey Moley will have freshly baked pączki for $2.75 each or $28 per dozen. Flavors will include prune, raspberry and lemon and Bavarian cream and will be available at the counter while supplies last. Preorder online before the end of the day on Sunday, Feb. 23 to guarantee availability. A limited number of "king cake" doughnuts will also be available at the bakery for $2.25 each. Might as well order a big ole box of Valentine coffee for the office while you're at it.

6. Le Reve Patisserie and Cafe

7610 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 778-3333
lerevecafe.com

Le Reve will offer pączki in four flavors including apricot, strawberry, raspberry and sweet cheese for $2.75 each. Some pączki will be available for sale on a first-come first-served basis; however, pre-orders are recommended. All pre-orders must be placed before Thursday, Feb. 20 at 5 p.m. with pick-up on Feb. 25.

7. Mila's European Bakery

239 N. Main St., Thiensville, (262) 242-1404
milasbakery.com

This year, Mila's Bakery will also be offering paczki on Feb. 25. The buttery filled treats will be available with fillings including chocolate Vienna, raspberry, lemon and mocha. Paczki are $1.50 each, while supplies last. Pre-ordering for pick-up on Fat Tuesay is highly recommended.

8. Molly's Gluten-free Bakery

N47W28270 Lynndale Rd, Pewaukee, (262) 369-1404
mollysglutenfreebakery.com

For those seeking a gluten- and dairy-free version of pączki, Molly's Gluten-free Bakery will be offering their version of the treat featuring a slightly smaller baked doughnut filled with raspberry filling and rolled in sugar for $3 each. Pre-ordering is highly recommended. Orders must be placed on or before Feb. 18, with pick up on Sat. Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

9. National Bakery

3200 S. 16th St., (414) 672-1620
5637 Broad St., Greendale (414) 423-4620
nationalbakery.com

National Bakery locations will be offering traditional pączki (made with a butter based dough) in prune (glazed or powdered) and raspberry (glazed or sugared). Featured filled doughnuts made with regular dough will also be available in raisin (glazed) and cocoa dust (filled with chocolate custard and dusted in cocoa powder) for $1.19 each or $14.28 per dozen. Pre-orders are recommended for pick-up on Fat Tuesday.

10. Old World Polish Deli

7630 W. Grange Ave., Greendale, ,(414) 855-0470

You can't get more traditional than the pączki from the Old World Polish Deli. They come in flavors including plum, raspberry and rosehip for $1.25 each. Pre-ordering is highly recommended.

11. The Polish Center of Wisconsin

6941 S. 68th St., Franklin
polishcenterofwisconsin.org

The Polish Center of Wisconsin will offer a selection of pączki, including prune, raspberry and custard, at their cafe beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Feb. 25. Pricing for a pączek and a coffee is $4. The treats will also be available for purchase at $15 per dozen while supplies last.

12. Sweet Perfections Bake Shop

1501 Paramount Dr., Suite C, Waukesha, (262) 446-2253
sweetperfections.com

If you're looking for something a bit different, Sweet Perfections Bake Shop offers up "top shelf pączki" in flavors like Bailey's Cherry Bombshell, Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet, Kahlua'n Mudslide, Raspberry Vodka Shooter, Rumchata Crunch and Spiced Bananas Foster ($3.25 each). Traditional flavors – including Bavarian cream, prune and raspberry ($1.50 each) – are also available in the shop on Feb. 18 from 2 to 4 p.m. and Feb. 25 beginning at 6 a.m. Pre-orders are recommended and can be made online through Feb. 19. All pre-orders will receive a 10% discount with online code PACZKI2020.

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