Pączki (pronounced POHNCH-kee) are puffy Polish doughnuts, often filled with jam or custard and made to indulge the day before Lent begins. This recipe puts a modern spin on things by cooking the pączki in an air fryer, creating a slightly lighter version. However, you could use the exact same recipe and fry in oil if you prefer.
- 2 Cups whole milk, warmed to 110F
- 4 1/2 Teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 Cups + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
- 6-7 Cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 egg
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- Jam, for filling
- Custard, for filling
- Powdered sugar, for coating
Step 1: Pour 2 cups warm milk into bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until it has become bubbly.
Step 2: Stir in 2 cups of flour to the mixture until the batter becomes smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot for 30 minutes. The mixture should have risen and become bubbly.
Step 3: In a bowl, whisk 1 egg and 4 egg yolks for 3-4 minutes, until it becomes frothy. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon salt, and whisk until smooth.
Step 4: Add the egg mixture to the dough and mix on medium-low speed with the dough hook attached until mostly combined. Stir in 4 tablespoons melted butter. Gradually add 3-4 more cups of flour to the mixture and knead until a very soft dough comes together. It will be a sticky dough and will not form a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Step 5: Remove the dough from the bowl and turn out onto a floured work surface. Sprinkle flour on the dough and roll it out to ½-inch thickness. With a glass, metal can or biscuit cutter cut out circles and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Do this with all of the dough. Cover dough circles with a towel and let rise for 1 hour.
Step 6: Preheat air fryer to 350F for 3 minutes. Line the bottom of the air fryer with parchment paper and place 3-4 dough circles in at a time (do not line the air fryer with parchment paper and put it inside without the donuts). Bake for 4-6 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check paczki often to make sure they aren't burning. You want a light golden color.
Step 7: Remove from air fryer and place on a paper towel lined platter and let cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and fill with fruit jams or custard. Enjoy within one day.