Paczki will soon be popping up all over Champaign-Urbana
Where you can find this pre-Lenten delicacy
Take a look at the calendar and you will see that Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of the Lenten season, is taking its time this year — not arriving until March 2, 2022. This leaves plenty of time for people to look for paczki.
What are paczki? They are Polish pastries — similar to donuts — that “feature a variety of fruit and creme fillings and can be glazed, or covered with granulated or powdered sugar.” (Thanks, Wikipedia. Also note that English speakers use “paczki” for both singular and plural pastries, because we’re efficient like that.)
Paczki dough is bursting with rich ingredients such as eggs, fats, and sugars; they are an especially delicious way to use up such ingredients before more austere menus take over Lenten tables. Whether they are consumed on “Fat Thursday” (Poland) or “Fat Tuesday” (here in the U.S., which embraces multiple Mardi Gras traditions), paczki are a delicious final hurrah before Ash Wednesday.
In areas with large Polish populations — especially Midwestern cities such as Detroit, Milwaukee, and Chicago — Fat Tuesday may even be called Paczki Day (this year, Tuesday, March 1). As a bonus — because who doesn’t love bonus pastry? — paczki sometime make a reappearance in Illinois for Casimir Pulaski Day on the first Monday in March.
We asked our readers where they could find paczki in Champaign-Urbana, and here’s what they told us. By the way, many of these same places make Mardi Gras King Cake. Please call before heading out — paczki or King Cake may be made in limited quantities or require a special order.
Pekara Bakery & Bistro and Central Illinois Bakehouse, Champaign: Central Illinois Bakehouse will be making fresh packzi for purchase every Saturday in February at Pekara Bakery and Bistro as well as at the CIB stand at the Indoor Farmers Market in Lincoln Square Mall (Urbana). Pekara, 811 W. Springfield Ave.
Rick’s Bakery, Urbana: “Rick’s Bakery has carried them (but I’m hoping they see this and make more because they are often almost out when I get them on the day, and now my “secret” is out).” 124 W. Main St.
The Dancing Dog Eatery and Juicery, Urbana: They plan to sell a limited number on Paczki Day itself — lemon curd, rose, and blueberry. Note that their paczki are vegan. Dancing Dog, 126 W. Main St.
Common Ground Food Co-op, Urbana: Readers have found paczki here, both raspberry and creme filled. Common Ground, 300 S. Broadway, Suite 166.
“Meijer and Schnucks carry them – but WAY TOO EARLY and are typically not stocked on Fat Tuesday.” Other paczki sightings in past years: County Market, Harvest Market, and Sam’s Club.
Not yet known for 2022
The Zagloba Polish Club at the University of Illinois holds an annual paczki sale on the Quad or in the Student Union, usually on the day before Mardi Gras. They bring in paczki from a Polish bakery in Chicago. Due to COVID restrictions on student organizations, they may or may not be able to hold their sale this year. [Updated to add: apparently the sale did take place on 2/22 this year.]
Where else have you found paczki? Be sure to email us to let us know.