A word on paczki and 11 spots to get your fix
Next week marks the beginning of Lent. 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. 13.
The holiday originated as a way to use up the fats and eggs before beginning a traditional Lenten fast. It's important to note that pączki aren't just jelly filled doughnuts. In fact, what sets them apart is their dough, which is a rich, sweet yeast dough consisting of eggs, butter and 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 just days away from 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
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 $14.95. 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.
1100 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 486-7747
Seems everyone is a little bit Polish on Pączki Day. Even Canfora, one of Milwaukee's classic Italian bakeries, offers up a nice selection of delicious pączki in flavors including raspberry, lemon, apple, prune, custard and raisin for $1.25 each or $12 per dozen.
3. Cranky Al's
6901 W. North Ave., (414) 258-5282
The folks at Cranky Al'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, prune, apricot, Bavarian cream, blueberry and lemon. Pączki are $1.75 each or $19 per dozen. King cakes will also available for $30 each.
5132 W. Lincoln Ave., (414) 543-7000
Grebe's has the goods every year, and this year will be no exception. Choose from flavors like prune with powdered sugar or glaze, cherry filled with pink icing, raspberry filled with icing or sugar coating, custard with chocolate icing, buttercream 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 key lime with white icing. Pricing is $0.90 each or $9.50 per dozen. Pączki will be available on both Monday, Feb. 12 and Tuesday, Feb. 13. Even better, the bakery will observe special extended hours from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fat Tuesday. King cakes are also available now through Fat Tuesday for $12.60 each.
If the South Side bakery isn't a convenient pick-up spot, Grebe's paczki can also be found at Speedway, Sentry Foods, Woodman's Markets, Piggly Wiggly and a variety of retail locations throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
316 N Milwaukee St., (414) 308-1616
11340 W. Burleigh St., (414) 308-1616
Holey Moley will have pączki for $27.50 a dozen in flavors like strawberry, blueberry and custard. Order yours online before Feb. 10 to guarantee availability. Might as well order a big ole box of Valentine coffee for the office while you're at it.
7610 Harwood Ave. (414) 778-3333
Le Reve will offer pączki in three flavors including apricot, raspberry and sweet cheese for $3 each. Some pączki will be available for sale on a first-come first-served basis; however, pre-orders are recommended.
3200 S. 16th St., (414) 672-1620
13820 W. Greenfield Ave., Brookfield (262) 827-4097
5637 Broad St., Greendale (414) 423-4620
Beginning Monday, Feb. 27, National Bakery will be offering authentic pączki in prune (glazed and powdered) and raspberry (iced, glazed, sugared or powdered) and raisin (glazed) for $0.99 each or $11.88 per dozen. You can also get regular filled doughnuts with a non-butter dough; but why would you?
8. Old World Polish Deli
7630 W. Grange Ave., (414) 855-0470
You can't get more authentic than the pączki from the Old World Polish Deli. They come in flavors including plum, raspberry, strawberry and old school poppy seed for $1.25 each. For larger orders, calling to pre-order is highly recommended.
9. The Polish Center of Wisconsin
6941 S. 68th St., Franklin
The Polish Center of Wisconsin will offer prune and raspberry pączki from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 13. Pricing is $1.50 per pączek ($11.50 per dozen or three dozen for $34). Pre-orders are recommended and can be made online.
10. Regina's Bay Bakery
423 E. Silver Spring Dr., Whitefish Bay (414) 332-5340
Regina's Bakery in Whitefish Bay also offers up the sweet filled treats in flavors including raspberry, strawberry, lemon, custard, butter cream and chocolate buttercream. Each is coated in either granulated or powdered sugar. Pricing is $0.95 each.
11. Sweet Perfections Bake Shop
1501 Paramount Dr., Ste. C, Waukesha (262) 446-2253
If you're looking for something a bit different – and as far from traditional as they come – Sweet Perfections offers up "top shelf paczki" available in flavors like Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet, Raspberry Vodka Shooter, Spiced Bananas Foster, Bailey's Cherry Bombshell, Kahlua'n Mudslide and Rumchata Crunch. Top shelf paczki are $3 each, $18 for a half-dozen or $36 per dozen and are available for pick up or delivery around town. Preorders are highly recommended.
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