Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Paczki: More than a Pastry

This morning, Toledo bakeries were met with long lines of hungry patrons anxiously waiting for their favorite Polish pastry. It’s Fat Tuesday, which prompts many to purchase their paczki from a local baker, rather than a typical grocery store— mass-produced, machine-made paczkis are simply be contrary to custom. Handmade is tradition.


To the untrained eye, you might confuse this Fat Tuesday delicacy with a simple jelly doughnut, but local bakers will correct you.

Scott Nugent, the owner of Bakery Unlimited, describes the paczki (pronounced POON-shcki) as having a much richer dough that contains more eggs, sugar, and spices. The traditional paczki features flavors like prune, apricot, and raisin. As time changes, so do people’s taste, which explains why today the most popular flavors are custard, raspberry, lemon and chocolate.

Bakery Unlimited is no rookie when it comes to creating a paczki. Over the course of a couple weeks, they will produce more than 24,000 paczki to be sold at the Polish Village on Lagrange St., the Andersons and their own store.  


This Polish Catholic treat was first concocted a few centuries ago in preparation for a Lenten fast. Families would empty their cupboards and combine sweets and all the ingredients that could be cooked together. “It is a Polish tradition to clean out the cupboards, mix it up and create a paczki,” said Nugent.  

Those humble beginnings of blending the prunes and raisins hiding in Polish kitchens has, fortunately, been updated. Today, the traditional pastry enjoys the royal treatment.

Toledo has a wide variety of bakeries that each have their take on this classic recipe, even bakeries that don’t have a Polish background will add a unique flare to this traditional food. This can be done by creating new flavors, or by changing the basic recipe.

“If there is one thing we stray from tradition with in our recipe, a lot of people traditionally use lard when they make it. We don’t. We use vegetable shortening,” said Kyle Brieschke of Brieschke’s Bakery.

Get your paczki while they are fresh, because they will not be around long. Many Toledo bakeries only serve them anywhere from one week to a month, with the mindset that it would simply lose the tradition of clearing out the cupboard if you planned for paczkis.


Paczki pit-stops:


7 Little Cupcakes (paczki cupcakes)
1021 Sandusky St., Perrysburg

Bakery Unlimited
2247 Secor Rd.
6636 Bancroft St.

Brieschke’s Bakery
5639 Main St, Sylvania, OH 43560
(419) 882-2302

The Baker’s Kitchen (Maumee)
6433 Monclova Rd.
The Baker’s Kitchen (Perrysburg)
210 Louisanna Ave.

Cafe Donuts
5330 Monroe St.

Haas Bakery
2306 Starr Ave.

Michael’s Cafe Bakery
101 Main St.

Stanley’s Market
3302 Stickney Ave.

Strachn’s Bakery
759 S Holland Sylvania Rd.

United North for Paczki Day
3101 Lagrange St.
February 26-28
All proceeds go to neighborhood improvement programs

Wixey Bakery
2017 Gendale Ave.


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