Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Rediscovering Pączki

When the Soviet Union collapsed and small businesses started blossoming in post-Soviet Russia, a private bakery opened near my parents' house. Every day when coming back from school I could smell the scent of fresh bread, one of the most seductive scents in the world. I saved my pocket money to buy a delicacy called “ponchik” (пончик, a type of doughnut) there. Since then the word “ponchik” has become a synonym for ingenious joy and delight for me.

A few days ago, my husband spotted an advertisement in a local Canadian newspaper inviting everybody to join in a Pączki's Day. Many European (and particularly Eastern European) bakeries are celebrating Pączki's Day this Tuesday by offering a good choice of doughnuts, or pączki. It turned out that the word for this kind of doughnuts came to Russian from the Polish. The polish letter “ą” sounds like a nasal [on], so pączki is nothing other than my favourite ponchiki!

Russians don't celebrate Pączki Day (Fat Thursday), but we eat pancakes (блины, bliny) throughout the week, instead. This Sunday is Maslenitsa (масленица), when many people enjoy eating an unlimited amount of pancakes with various jams, sour cream, caviar and much more. There are many various recipes for bliny, but what makes Russian (and Ukrainian) bliny different is that they are normally bigger, thinner and made without yeast.

Bon appetite all, who have Pączki's Day or Maslenitsa this week!

Photo by Andrei Zmievski

  • Flour - 1 cup
  • Milk - 3 cups
  • Baking soda - 1/2 ts
  • Sunflower oil - 2 tbs
  • Eggs - 2
  • Salt and sugar to taste.

Mix eggs with 3 cups of milk. Add salt and flour and mix thoroughly. Pour vegetable oil into a saucer. Heat the pan. Grease it. Pour thin layer of batter evenly. Cook until light brown, about 2 minutes, flip on the other side with a thin knife and cook another 30 sec. Serve with butter, sour cream, caviar or jam. Enjoy.