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Paczki Day in Detroit | Celebrate Fat Tuesday in Style
This year, Feb. 17 is Fat Tuesday, the last day before the season of Lent where many Christians refrain from indulgent treats. For Detroiters it’s better known as Paczki Day, when local bakeries serve up dozens of traditional Polish pastries as a last chance to enjoy a sweet treat. Whether or not you observe Lent, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to try a “paczek,” as a single Paczki is called.
Paczki (pronounced PONCH-KEE) are deep-fried balls of dough traditionally filled with prunes and covered with powdered sugar or icing. They were originally created to use up all the fats and sugar in the house before Lent and help avoid temptation in the coming weeks. Modern Paczki are just as rich, but come in a variety of flavors, so don’t worry if prunes aren’t your favorite filling.
Metro Detroit’s Polish enclave, Hamtramck, is the place to be on Paczki Day. Lines can stretch out the door at bakeries known for their Paczki, so order ahead or expect a wait when you stop at one of these popular shops — it’s all part of the experience.
New Palace Bakery
New Palace Bakery has been a Hamtramck institution for more than 100 years, and they’re experts on traditional Paczki, with 12 traditional fillings and five specialty fillings to choose from. And if you just can’t decide, try one of their two-in-one or three-in-one fillings. We recommend ordering ahead to be sure you get a batch on the big day.
New Martha Washington Bakery
Rivaling New Palace with their wide selection of flavors, the New Martha Washington Bakery draws one of the biggest crowds on Fat Tuesday, and once met the challenge to make the largest Paczki in Michigan.
Dutch Girl Donuts
One of Detroit’s best-loved donut shops, the family-owned Dutch Girl bakery is famous for making your favorite pastries the old-fashioned way. While donuts are their specialty, they mix things up and add Paczki to the menu for Fat Tuesday.
West Warren Baking Company
The West Warren Baking Company was opened by the Petkovski family when they emigrated from the former Yugoslavia more than 50 years ago. They specialize in European baked goods, so of course they go all out for Paczki Day.
If you want the full Paczki Day experience, head to Hamtramck for the annual Paczki Day Parade, Polish dancing and a meal at one of the city’s traditional Polish restaurants. Festivities extend into the evening, with many local bars and music venues hosting after-hours Paczki parties.
What’s your favorite place for Paczki? Tell us in the comments below.
Photo Credit: letssavemichigan.com