Pączki or Pancakes? How do you celebrate Fat Tuesday?

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Pączki or Pancakes?

Today is FAT Tuesday. Do you know why it’s called Fat Tuesday? Lent begins tomorrow, and traditionally for many people that means six weeks of self-denial often in the form of refraining from eating meat on fridays and certain foods during the next six weeks. Fat Tuesday, also known at Shrove Tuesday, is the day people traditionally gorge themselves on forbidden foods before Lent begins, and this is how pączki gained popularity and  Pancake Day came to be.

Pancake Day has existed since at least the 17th century! Every year in England at eleven in the morning a special bell was rung – the pancake bell – and work stopped for the day and the holiday began. People would eat pancakes and other foods all day long – a last hurrah before Lent (you can read more about this here).

So I don’t have a pancake bell to ring, but I celebrated Fat Tuesday with two traditional foods many people eat today: pączki and pancakes.

I found this pancake  recipe a few years ago on the The Food Network website. I remember I was craving pancakes that day and I didn’t have any pancake mix in the house, so I figured I’d search online and try and find a recipe.  The recipe  is jotted down on a piece of paper and taped to the inside of one of the kitchen cabinets for easy access. It’s a versatile recipe which I even use in the waffle iron occasionally. This recipe is kid approved. In fact, my nieces and nephews call it “Auntie Kimmy’s Pancakes” (Kimmy because that’s what my nieces and nephews call me, and one or two of my younger cousins. Not you, reader, just the kids).

This recipe is very simple and when I crave pancakes at home this is the recipe I always use.

To make the pancakes you will need:

1 egg
1 cup flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

The Directions given online say to put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix them up, break up lumps, and use the batter immediately. However, I like to do the following:

1. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

2. Add the egg, milk, and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients.

3. Mix the ingredients together using a spoon or whisk.

4. Break up any lumps in the batter.

5. Pour (or ladle) the batter onto a hot griddle or pan (medium heat usually works best).

6. Like all pancakes, when they begin the bubble on top and the edges appear to be cooked it’s time to flip them.

I just started using Vine, so this post has a video of this recipe with blueberries added! (Warning: the video is sort of fast, it was my first video.)

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And what are Pączki, you ask?

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Powdered pillows of perfection, that’s what they are.  Pączki (say it with me: “punch-key”) are a rich and heavy sweet pastry, a cross between a  jelly-filled powdered doughnut and a  richer and heavier cake, a pound cake is the closest thing I can think of. People describe them as something you can “sink your teeth into”,  which I suspect is due to both the consistency of the dough as simultaneously dense and fluffy, and the sweetness of the jam filling and powdered sugar is strong enough to give you a sugar high. And a sugar high I had after eating one today!

I have a foodie confession to make – brace yourselves – today was the first time I’ve ever eaten one of these highly celebrated treats. The verdict? If you like jelly filled, cake-like donuts you will like pączki. I myself prefer a lighter doughnut, so these are a little heavy for me and something I will split with someone else next time.

There was quite a buzz today on twitter about pączki and what does my mother-in-law bring from the grocery store? Pączki! Now, since these came from the grocery store bakery I’m not sure if they are THE pączki, but it did allow me to try this sweet treat I’d been reading about for most of the morning.Ours were filled with raspberry jam and covered in powdered sugar, and were very tasty.

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