J.P. Antonacci – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Beatrice Fox’s eyes widened when she got her first glimpse of the plump dough on her plate.
“Look at this oozing Nutella,” Fox, 8, said in awe of her paczki, a traditional filled Polish donut sprinkled with powdered sugar.
A few big bites later, the verdict is in.
“Delicious,” Fox sighed happily.
Sounds of joy filled the Courtland Bakery in Norfolk County on a recent weekday afternoon as a group of children slipped through the stuffed pastries.
“Amazing,” said Stella Jagt, 10. “There’s a lot of filler in it. Way more than I thought. »
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted,” enthused Lucy Fox, 10, of the lemon paczki – pronounced “poonch-key” or “punch-key” – quickly disappearing from her plate.
Some successful parental cajoling had earned the young friends to surrender Courtland before the last school bell.
“It was worth skipping French,” Lucy Fox said with a sugary smile.
A January tradition for 23 years at the Highway 3 Bakery, paczki season offers a welcome boost in sales during a typically slow time, owner Mary Peazel said.
People commute to the west end of Norfolk for paczki ‘because we overcharge them’, she explained, noting that a canned dozen weighs about five pounds.
“We really fill them up and only use the best (ingredients),” Peazel said. “We don’t use jelly toppings. These are real fruits.
The bakery makes a dozen varieties of paczki — like raspberry, apricot, Venetian cream, and cherry — topped with honey glaze, icing sugar, or granulated sugar.
In Poland, families traditionally eat paczki on the eve of Ash Wednesday to deplete their lard and sugar, as these ingredients are banned during Lent, the abstinence period of the Christian calendar. But in Courtland, the paczki season started on January 10 – when the bakery sold its stock at lunchtime – and will run until Mardi Gras on February 21.
“People say, ‘Why don’t you do it all the time?’ Well, that wouldn’t be special,” Peazel said.
She recommends ordering ahead to avoid disappointment. On a recent weekend, the bakery made 135 dozen fresh paczki and ended up selling more than 170 dozen, dipping into its frozen inventory to keep up with demand.
Starsky Fine Foods and Staropolskie Delikatesy in Hamilton stock paczki — ordered from outside vendors rather than cooked on site — and they can also be found at larger grocery stores like Fortinos.
But Peazel said supermarket paczki paled in comparison to the freshly baked variety.
“(Ours) are so full. We get complaints that they are too full,” she laughed.
“In grocery stores, you get a little dab of fruit and that’s about it. We do at least two or three times more (filler) than normal. You almost need a bib.
Where to polish a paczki
711 Barton Street East, Hamilton
Delivered fresh daily. Raspberry and Strawberry on weekdays, more flavors stocked on weekends.
Starsky Fine Foods
685 Queenston Road, Hamilton
Available all year round. Manufactured offsite. Half a dozen flavors including lemon, custard and apple with a sugar glaze topping.
217 Courtland Main Street (Highway 3), Courtland
Made fresh on site. Twelve flavors with four topping options (plain, honey glazed, powdered sugar, granulated sugar). Only available until February 21.