10/17/12

Cooky Cat Says . . .


We all know the next line so well we'll not even bother to write it down. "When life hands you lemons . . . "

But, what about when life hands you stale pączki? Oh, you say you don't know from pączki. Pączki are Polish jelly donuts. They can be so good that you could go nuts. Stessing, can be.

 


Our advisor David D. Wronski knows from pączki [say "poonch-key"], singular "pączek". As a teenage youth he dutifully dragged his young butt over to his uncle Phil's Northtown Bakery in Detroit directly after school on Friday's (and during Summer break, can you believe the dedication and determination of this young man?) and would assist the bakers with all manner of chores long into the night, the last of which was filling jellies and Bavarian creme into the freshly fried pączki before being released from servitude at 6:30 in the morning. (Here's the whole lamentable tale on his blog When I Was a Boy.)

Uncle Phil's pączki were delicious. Dark fried brown on the outside, eggy yellow and puffy on the inside. And, when D.D.W. was at the jelly dispenser, filled with prune butter, raspberry jelly, or Bavarian creme. As in, brimmingly filled. He liked the filling and made sure you got your money's worth. (He recently bought a pączek from a local Polish store and found only the smallest amount of jelly inside. How little, you ask? We'll, to put it bluntly, if you had a spot on your tuxedo shirt the same size you wouldn't give it a second thought.)

But the thing is that pączki like Phil's in olden times had what they call in the trade a short shelf life. Eat it right away, first thing and it is heaven. As the hours pass, you got closer to hell. Exponentially faster.

After 12 hours out of the bakery you got one stale pączek. What to do? French Toast.

That's right, Cooky Cat says, "when life hands you stale pączki, you make French Toast." Especially if you get one with the aforementioned negligible amount of jelly. Even if it is Rose jelly; ever heard of that? Tastes like roses.

So now for the French Toast. At David's home the lovely Michele, who is French by ancestry, makes the world's best French Toast.

World's Best French Toast Recipe . . .

No big deal, really. Just an egg or two, or more (depending on egg size and how many servings you are making) with a little milk or cream, and a generous amount of ground cinnamon. Whisk together then soak your bread / stale pączki in this custard mix, then fry softly in butter until golden brown. With a pączek, of course, you slice it in half to make a top and a bottom.

The trick though is letting the bread and/or pączki soak up lots of the custard. Repeat, let the bread soak up lots of custard. Think, soaking wet.

We have all but given up French Toast in just about any restaurant. Except maybe the B&H Diner in New York City's East Village. Fresh baked-on-premises Challah bread, sliced thick, then dipped liberally in a rich custard. 

By the way, if you want to sample the definitve pączki the Polonia Bakery in Passaic, New Jersey is the pinochle. Their pączki are fried jelly-in, and only one kind: prune butter, powidła in Polish [say "Po-veed-wa"]. Here's a superlative write up for the Polonia Bakery. 

Also, the pączki from Polonia Bakery don't apply to this what to do with stale pączki question. They are liberally coated with an orange zest infused sugar glaze with enough jelly to keep them moist for a long shelf life. But still, like any pączki, best to get 'em while they're hot. 

A shout out to the one and only Michele T. Fillion whose proofreading and editorial oversight make this Kitty look like a Harvard graduate (her term).              







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