Bakery lines are certain to be wrapped around the block on March 5, because Fat Tuesday brings the return of Chicago’s favorite Polish tradition: Paczki Day.
Paczki (pronounced “poonch-key”) are deep-fried Polish pastries resembling a doughnut. In Poland, paczki are eaten on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday prior to Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Traditional Christian fasting practices forbid the consumption of lard, sugar, eggs, and fruit during the season of Lent; therefore, all of the ingredients were used to make Paczki.
With a significant Polish community, Paczki Day is an honored tradition in Chicago. Fat Tuesday is one of the busiest days of the year for bakeries in the Chicagoland area, so call in advance to place your order or get in line well before the sun comes up. If you’re wanting to pick up a delicious baker’s dozen, here are some places you can score some Paczki on Tuesday.
Located in Chicago’s historical Bridgeport neighborhood, the Bridgeport Bakery has 13 types of paczki, including blueberry, peach, fresh strawberries with whip cream, and custard topped with chocolate. My family celebrated early with delicious paczki from this classic Chicago bakery and it happens to be my favorite!
Do Rite Donuts
Putting a twist on paczki flavors, Do Rite Donuts offers lemon blackberry, raspberry, and peanut butter chocolate paczki for Tuesday only.
Central Continental Bakery
Crowds roll through the Central Continental Bakery until midnight during paczki season. With over 50 flavors of paczki from traditional fruit fillings such as blueberry and peach, to gourmet flavors like Lady Godiva chocolate and banana split, it’s no wonder why this place is a Chicagoland favorite.
Stan’s Donuts & Coffee
The site of my favorite doughnut flavors in all of Chicago, Stan’s Donuts & Coffee has been counting down the deep-fried celebration by hosting “The Five Days of Paczki”. Flavors include Cannoli Cream, Vanilla Pastry Cream, Chocolate Pastry Cream, and cherry-filled. King Cake donuts are also on the menu, complete with a gummy baby in the center.
Pastries are made around the clock to keep up with the demand at Firecakes Donuts, and paczki are on the menu for Tuesday. This year they are offering Drunken Plum Jam, Raspberry Blood Orange, Chocolate Malt Custard, and Meyer Lemon Curd. King Cake donuts will also be available for Mardi Gras.
If you cannot make it into one of Chicagoland’s bakeries for Paczki Day, be sure to check your local supermarket’s bakery section for the Polish goodies. Jewel-Osco and various other grocery stores will have paczki on hand for Tuesday.