DES PLAINES, Ill. - Paczki Day was just yesterday, a sign in the Polish community to load up on the fried treats in the days leading up to Fat Tuesday.
Our Hungry Hound says you'll find them all over Chicagoland this weekend, especially in a handful of places run by the legendary Oak Mill Bakery.
Singular is poczek, plural is paczki, and you can bet there will be tens of thousands produced, purchased and consumed over the next four days.
The diligent bakers at Oak Mill have been kneading, proofing, frying and decorating more than a dozen flavors for over 30 years, and this weekend could easily be compared to their fried dough super bowl, of sorts.
The enormous mixer gets a workout this time of year at Oak Mill Bakery's headquarters, right next door to its retail bakery in Des Plaines. Since the company now has five locations throughout the region, this week, they're working almost around-the-clock to meet demand, for any of their 18 different flavors.
"Traditional is prune filling or rose filling. South of Poland make rose filling because it was very popular. Or they make a mixture of different fruit called marmalade," said Oak Mill Bakery's owner, Bogna Solak.
Once the dough is mixed, it's divided into five-pound rounds, and left to rest a bit.
"They going to the divider, and we divide the five pounds dough for 36 pieces," she said.
Once the machine separates the dough into 36 pieces, it has to proof - or rest - another few hours.
"Then we let them raise again before they go to the oil. They deep fry. They not baked they're deep-fried," said Solak.
Whether it's in a fancy German machine or a simple, old school fryer, it takes about 30 seconds per side. Then they have to cool, of course, before heading over to the decorating station, where they begin by getting filled with any number of flavors. As Solak mentioned, prune and rosewater are traditional, but there are plenty of other flavors, then there's the issue of what type of frosting to dip them into - chocolate or white icing colored with rosewater - and beyond that, the option of leaving it whole, or slicing and adding additional cream, turning them into a decidedly more "gourmet" poczek.
"Which we cut them in half and we fill them with strawberry, with blueberry with cheese with whipping cream," said Solak.
In Steve's Extra Course video he talks about some of the specialty cakes they also make at Oak Mill.
Oak Mill Bakery
Extra Course: Oak Mill Bakery cakes
2490 S. Wolf Road
Des Plaines, IL 60018
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