Pączki are traditionally eaten on the Thursday before Lent in the Polish Catholic community, or on Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday in the gluttonous community at large. They were originally created as a way to use up all the sugar, lard, eggs and fruit that were forbidden during a Lenten fast, but guess what? I can eat sugar, lard, eggs and fruit any day I want. (example: #fatfriday)
As Chicago’s Polish community (possibly the largest outside of Poland) expands, so do Oak Mill Bakery locations. This is where you go for pączki. Done. Niles, Wicker Park, Des Plaines…..all connected by sweet sweet Polish pastries. And not only pączki, this joint is busting at the seams (much like your waistline upon exiting) with cakes, cookies, pies, breads, pastries, tarts, mousses, all made using all natural ingredients with traditional flavors like apricot, rose, prune and poppy taking center stage.
Today we opted for one apricot and one raspberry pączki (as my assistant was adverse to prune – which is SO good! don’t let its digestive qualities deter you!), and a slice of blueberry cheese phyllo strudel (a small selection are available by slice or else you need to buy the whole thing – which is prob only about $5, but we can only get so fat on #fatfriday).
Everything was fresh and amazing – the pączki dough is a bit more like brioche than donut dough, so it’s not super heavy/you can eat more. The tartness of the fruit, the creaminess of the cheese – everything balances perfectly so nothing is too sweet. Even these crazy layered pink bites of who knows what were on point. I could have eaten the whole tray, but again, #fatfriday, let’s stay sensible and just come back for the whole cake next time. #fatsaturday