Lent is quickly approaching. And that means a host of Milwaukee bakeries are battening down their hatches and baking up a storm in preparation for "Paczki Day," which takes place on Tuesday, March 1 (Fat Tuesday).
The Polish holiday has long provided a mechanism for folks to clear out their larders before beginning the traditional 40-day Lenten fast (in fact, in the Middle Ages, precursors to the sweet treats were actually filled with pork and fried in lard). As a result, paczki are a particularly indulgent treat that's set aside for one special day each year.
It's important to note that paczki aren't your average jelly-filled doughnuts. In fact, what sets them apart is their dough, which is a richer, often sweeter yeast dough incorporating eggs, butter and often milk.
With that in mind, it’s never too early to start thinking about paczki. After all, if we were in Poland, where they celebrate Tlusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday), we’d be even closer to indulging in celebratory deep-fried deliciousness.
Before you say the word
Now that you know the difference between paczki and doughnuts, it's time to respect the word paczki and use it properly. So, before you venture out into the world and start throwing around the term paczki (or even worse, paczkis), here’s a quick lesson in how to really pronounce it.
Paczki is pronounced PAWNCH-key and is the plural form of the word (really the only one you need, since you can’t eat just one, right?). Paczek, on the other hand is pronounced PAWN-check and refers to just one lonely Polish-style confection.
If you’d prefer, here’s a video that illustrates the point quite well.
Where to get paczki
So yeah, you can just grab a few jelly doughnuts at the grocery store (because these days, almost every one will have them; and they'll call them paczki to boot). However, since you’ve got time to think about it, here are some spots you might want to check out for your paczki fix.
Keep in mind: there is a superstition that if you don't eat at least one paczki on Shrove Tuesday, bad luck will follow you for the rest of the year. So, we'd advise erring on the side of caution and eating at least one.
Hankering for a king cake? We've got you there too!
1. Aggie's Bakery
7328 W. Greenfield Ave., (414) 482-1288
Handmade paczki are a specialty at Aggie's Bakery, which offers flavors including apple with cinnamon sugar, blueberry with sugar, buttercream with powdered sugar, custard with white sugar glaze, lemon with powdered sugar, prune with sugar, raspberry with sugar and strawberry with glaze. Paczki are sold in six-packs for $7.95 or by the dozen for $15.95. Pre-order online at aggiesbakery.com for pick-up on March 1.
2. The Bake Sale
6923 W Becher St, West Allis, (414) 543-4230
The Bake Sale will be stocking a large selection of paczki in various flavors from Cranky Al’s for Paczki Day. They will be sold for $2.25 each on March 1, in store only.
6901 W. North Ave., (414) 258-5282
The folks at Cranky's aren't really cranky, although they will get cranky if you mistake a regular old bismarck (jelly doughnut) for a paczek. This year, they'll have raspberry, prune, Bavarian cream, lemon and a very special strawberry lemon paczek made through a collaboration with Hatched. Paczki are $2.25 each or $25 per assorted dozen (does not include prune). Cranky's will also be offering paczki kitts featuring six unfilled sugared paczki and three two-ounce syringes filled with customers' choice of three fillings ($17). Pre-orders are recommended and can be placed online through Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. for pick-up on March 1. Cranky's will be open 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fat Tuesday.
4. Donut Monster
5169 N Elkhart Ave., Whitefish Bay
316 N. Milwaukee St.
Donut monster will be rolling out three flavors of paczki for pick-up at both their Third Ward and Whitefish Bay locations. Options include sugar coated blueberry mascarpone, sugar coated orange curd and strawberry sugar coated strawberry. Pricing is $19 for six (two of each flavor) or $35 for a dozen (four of each) Preorders can be made online through Feb. 26 for pick-up on March 1.
5. Grebe’s Bakery
5132 W. Lincoln Ave., (414) 543-7000
Grebe's has the goods every year, and this year will be no exception. Flavors will include cinnamon sugar coated apple, chocolate-iced buttercream, chocolate-iced custard, white-iced raspberry, sugar-coated raspberry, glazed blueberry, glazed sweet cheese, powdered sugar lemon and glazed prune. Pricing is $2 each; $12 for a half dozen; or $17 per baker's dozen. Customers can pick up at the bakery on Monday, Feb. 28 or Tuesday, March 1 between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. As always, pre-orders are highly recommended.
Grebe’s paczki are also available at participating Speedway, Sentry Foods, Woodman’s and Piggly Wiggly stores, as well as at all Sendik’s locations Feb. 23 through March 1.
Note: Grebe’s will not be carrying king cakes in 2022.
6. Kurt Schulz Deli
8752 N. Deerwood Dr., Brown Deer, (414) 354-1004
Delicious paczki are waiting at this North Side deli, which will be offering the traditional filled doughnut in flavors including cheese, raspberry, lemon, prune and cinnamon raisin. Paczek are $2 each or $22 per dozen. Preorders are highly recommended and can be made by phone through Saturday, Feb. 26 with pick up on March 1.
7. La Tarte
6742 W. Wells St., Wauwatosa, (414) 456-0995
La Tarte offers a lovely selection of paczki in flavors including custard dipped in chocolate, cherry with icing and raspberry, apple and lemon custard dusted in powdered sugar. A limited number of traditional prune filled paczki are also available. Pricing is $1.75 each or six for $9. Preorders are highly recommended and can be placed by calling the bakery. Pick-up is available beginning Feb. 25 (through Fat Tuesday).
8. Lakeside Bakery
1100 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 486-7747
Lakeside Bakery (formerly Canfora Bakery) offers a nice selection of delicious paczki in flavors including raspberry, lemon, apple, prune, custard and blueberry for $1.35 each or $16 per dozen. Place pre-orders by phone for pick-up on Fat Tuesday.
9. National Bakery & Deli
3200 S. 16th St., (414) 672-1620
13820 W. Greenfield Ave., Brookfield (262) 827-4097
5637 Broad St., Greendale (414) 423-4620
National Bakery locations will be celebrating Paczki Day on March 1 from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a variety of festivities from a live polka band in the morning to the sale of Paczki Day t-shirts. And yes, they'll also be offering traditional paczki (made with a butter based dough) in prune, raspberry or raisin. Pricing is $1.19 each or $14.50 per dozen. All locations will have paczki available on Fat Tuesday; but pre-orders are recommended and can be made online (or by phone) for pick-up as early as Feb. 28.
10. North Shore Boulangerie
Pop-up at Nehring's Sendik's
2643 N. Downer Ave.
North Shore Boulangerie, 4401 N. Oakland Ave., has partnered with Nehring's on Downer to bring freshly fried curbside paczkis to area residents on Fat Tuesday, March 1. Flavors will include plain ($2.90 each), raspberry ($3) and prune ($3.10). Coffee will also be available for purchase at $2.50 per cup. The paczki will be available curbside from 8 a.m. until sold out. To purchase, just pull up in the parking lane in front of Sendik's to make your purchase.
11. Old World Polish Deli
7630 W. Grange Ave., Greendale, (414) 855-0470
You can't get more traditional than the paczki from the Old World Polish Deli. They come in flavors including prune, raspberry and rosehip for $1.50 each. Pre-ordering by phone is highly recommended.
12. The Polish Center of Wisconsin
6941 S. 68th St., Franklin, (414) 529-2140
The Polish Center is offering celebratory paczki (in flavors including prune, raspberry, custard, lemon and chocolate custard) for pre-order online with pick-up at the Polish Center on March 1 from 7 a.m. to 12 p.m. Paczki are $15 per dozen and can be ordered online. The ordering deadline is Feb. 22. Delivery for orders of five (5) dozen or more is available for a $10 fee within a ten-mile radius of the Polish Center (exact delivery time not guaranteed).
13. Sweet Perfections Bake Shop
1501 Paramount Dr., Suite C, Waukesha, (262) 446-2253
If you’re looking for something a bit different, Sweet Perfections Bake Shop offers up "top shelf paczki" in flavors like Bailey's Cherry Bombshell, Brandy Old Fashioned Sweet, Kahlua'n Mudslide, Raspberry Vodka Shooter, Rumchata Crunch and Spiced Bananas Foster ($3.75 each). Traditional flavors – including Bavarian cream, prune and raspberry ($2.50 each or four for $10) are also available.
Pre-orders will be accepted online or by phone through Tuesday, Feb. 22 at midnight and are highly recommended. Sweet Perfections is open for pickup only Monday, February 28, from 3 to 6 pm. and on Fat Tuesday, March 1, from 7 am to 4 pm for in-store purchases and pickup.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.