Lots of time, labor makes plenty of paczkis

ESCANABA — The calendar was not kind to the workers at Elmer’s County this week. Each year, the bakery makes several thousand paczkis for one day — Fat Tuesday.

Paczkis have become a holiday favorite among local residents. A paczki, pronounced (puhnch-kee) is a deep-fried Polish pastry made of yeast dough that is glazed, iced or stuffed with a variety of fillings. Historically, making paczkis was a way for Polish families to use up butter, sugar, eggs, fruit and lard before the fasting days of Lent.

This year, the goal was to make about 5,500 of the pastries. The challenge, according to Elmer’s County Market Bakery Manager Art Ziebell, was the way some significant events fell on the calendar this year. The first was Super Bowl Sunday — a busy time for the bakery. Then came the task of making thousands of paczkis today — Fat Tuesday. As luck would have it the very next day — Wednesday — is Valentines Day, another busy day for the bakery.

Ziebell said his bakery staff was up for the challenge and plenty of paczkis are waiting for hungry customers today. Ziebell said that is the result of a lot of early mornings and many, many hours making paczkis.

Ziebell said this is in addition to the rolls, bread cakes and other baked goods the from scratch bakery makes every day.

Elmer’s County Market actually brought the paczkis tradition to the local area

According to Ziebell, about 20 years ago Elmer’s bakery manager at the time happened to see a billboard while traveling promoting something called a “paczki.” The bakery crew did some research and came up with a recipe for Elmer’s County Market’s very own paczki.

The first year, the bakery made about 50. That soon changed. Now, the bakery produces several thousand paczkis for Fat Tuesday each year.

Ziebell said credit for the success of the paczkis sale each year has to go to his staff, which puts in countless hours to make it a success. He also thanked the management and owners for Elmer’s County Market for allowing him to continue to prepare paczkis the same way for the past 20 years.

Ziebell said paczkis come in a variety of flavors. This year the bakery will be offering a variety of flavors including apple, apricot, Bavarian cream, blueberry, cherry, chocolate, cream cheese, date, lemon, raspberry, strawberry and prune.

Ziebell said the next effort comes right after Fat Tuesday when the bakery begins making hot-cross buns during the Lenten season.

Fat Tuesday is the busiest day of the year at the Donut Connection in Escanaba. Donut Connection joined in the tradition about 17 years ago, making pazckis for one day only.

New owners Lou and Vicky LaMarche said they very excited to carry on this tradition “We have been very busy preparing for Fat Tuesday to ensure a smooth and successful day just like in years past,” they said.


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