Pączki are rich, decadent Polish doughnuts that are traditionally eaten just before the beginning of Lent on Fat Thursday (Tłusty Czwartek), which is the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. It is usually filled with fruit preserves, prunes (a favourite), custard, poppyseed, sweet cheese or even a rose hip filling. However, I was so desperate to try and make these Polish doughnuts with freshly made rose petal jam that I couldn’t possibly wait until next year to share these pastries, especially since I cannot count on finding pesticide-free roses back home.
Last year, I promised a recipe for homemade rose petal jam… and here it is *Yay*. After the loss of my grandfather last June, I ignored the urge to go collect wild rose petals during the summertime, and ignored my yearly collection of rose hips during the Autumn. Instead, I buried myself for a good number of months in work and deep contemplation, and then, some more time in hospital (for my ruptured appendix).
However, to stroll through another summer without making this jam would be, simply put, heinous of me. It is a jam that truly lifts your spirits and gives you a sense of love and appreciation for everything around you. It feels like the elixir of the fair folk: romantic, arcane, serene. But maybe that’s just me.
I love to make a couple of jars of this jam as to enjoy them in the deep winter months, as well. Somehow, it gives you that much needed feeling of hope that, one day, summer will once again return and everything will be alright again. Of course, you can fill your pączki with any jam that you happen to have on hand, or you can simply leave it filling-less.
I love pairing roses with blackberries and you can add small blackberries into the centre of the filling if you like, or just serve them on the side. It’s not traditional, but I just love pairing fruits with fried sweet foods. Also, you could even dust the doughnuts in confectionary sugar or even a thin glaze. Entirely up to you.
Cooking time: 3+ hours
Makes: 16 dougnuts
300ml whole milk
1tbsp fresh yeast
120g granulated sugar, plus extra for decorating
120g butter, soft
3 egg yolks
1tbsp spirytus rektyfiokwany (95%) or brandy
2tsp almond extract (optional)
pinch of salt
600g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
800ml vegetable oil, plus 1-2tbsp for greasing
16 heaped tsp rose petal jam (or jam of choice), for filling
blackberries or any seasonal fruit, for serving (optional)
Pour the milk into a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occasionally until warm (about body temperature). Take off the heat and add the fresh yeast. Stir until dissolved and set aside.
Meanwhile, cream the sugar and butter together. Add the eggs, alcohol, almond extract and salt and mix until well incorporated.
Sieve and mix 1/3 of the flour to the batter and then mix in 1/3 of the milk alternately. Repeat until all the flour and the milk have been added. The dough will be slightly soft and smooth.
Grease a clean bowl and pour the dough into it. Cover with a table cloth and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2- 2 hours.
When the dough has doubled in size, punch down and dust a clean surface. Remove the dough from the bowl and roll the dough out to a 1 inch thickness and cut out rounds with a glass cup or a biscuit cutter. Bring all the scraps together and roll out once again and cut out more rounds.
Place a heaped teaspoon of jam into the middle of the round, pinch close and seal then roll into balls. Allow to rise for a further 45 minutes to 1 hour in a warm place covered with a tea towel.
When ready, heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan (never more than 1/3 of the pan should be filled) until 180ºC (350ºF) (if you do not have a thermometer, simply frying a tiny bit of dough and it should bubble and rise to the surface immediately when the oil is ready). Fry the doughnuts, 2-3 at a time and cook for 1 1/2-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on paper towels.
While still warm, toss in granulated sugar or confectionary sugar and serve immediately.
Rose Petal Jam
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Makes: Approximately 200g
Many people like their rose petal jam with a syrupy consistency. I like my rose petal jam, well, jammy. So expect a jam that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and to be spreadable over bread. If you want to increase the rose taste, simply add 1/4tsp of rosewater, however, I’ve found that this jam, if made with extremely fragrant flowers, is perfect just the way it is.
If there is one jam that you ever make, please let it be this jam.
Just as a note, the kirsch used here is completely optional, and I would only advice using it if you are making the jam specifically as a filling for these pączki as the cherry liqueur truly brings a special dimension to the pączki. Otherwise, for a more authentic, unadulterated rose petal jam, simply ignore.
100g rose petals, washed and white tips removed
200g caster sugar
5-6tbsp lemon juice
1/2tbsp kirsch (optional)
Place the rose petals and the sugar into a coffee grinder and pulse till the rose petals are torn and the sugar has change to the colour of the roses (my sugar turned purple).
Place in a saucepan along with the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and stir continuously for 15-20 minutes (take a teaspoon of the jam and place it on a cold plate. If it sets slightly and is not runny, it is done). Add in the kirsch, stir for a further minute, then take off the heat and pour into a sterilised jar. Store in a cool cupboard. Once opened, use within a week.
Thank you for reading.