CLEVELAND — Clevelanders and local bakeries take Fat Tuesday very seriously. The food-centric holiday is a day when locals indulge on every sweet, fatty, decadent dessert they can get their hands on, and in Cleveland, there's no shortage of bakeries offering the highly sought, traditional Polish pastry known as paczki (pronounced POONCH-KEY), which are essentially deep-fried pieces of dough with a sweet filling, generously sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Parma, known for its large Polish and Eastern European population, was named paczki capital of Ohio. It's the perfect food for a holiday called Fat Tuesday. A typical paczki usually contains 400 to 500 calories and 25 grams of fat, and for those who want the indulgence before a month off sugar, the delectable pastries are a right of passage, and frankly, well-worth the extra sweetness.
There are dozens of bakeries across Cleveland serving them up.
Brewnuts: 6501 Detroit Avenue, Cleveland
Brewnuts, known for its extravagant and fun flavors, is taking a step into the more indulgent side of doughnuts: paczki. Brewnuts will open at 6:30 a.m. and will have variety of paczki flavors, including porter custard, raspberry preserve, blueberry and chocolate crème.
Rudy's Strudel and Bakery: 5580 Ridge Road in Parma
Serving the Parma community for 65-plus years, Rudy's Strudel brings the Old world European taste to the Polish community. This bakery serves traditional paczki flavors while also pushing the envelope for new, innovative flavors. The bakery so far has cranked out around 70,000 paczki for the day. There will be 31 different flavors, including the "Savory Family" of paczki, which includes the "The Parma-Kash." It's a handmade paczki from the bakery's award-winning chicken paprikash stew.
Rudy's will kick off Fat Tuesday at 5 a.m. with festivities from polka DJ C. Randolph C. and a ball drop. There will be a live polka band starting at 11 a.m.
The Vegan Doughnut Company: 14811 Detroit Avenue, Lakewood
Vegans don't have to miss out on this sweet holiday. The bakers at Vegan Doughnut Company are offering vegan paczki flavors, which include raspberry, lemon cream and apple. Doors open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
Jack Frost Donuts: 4960 Pearl Road, Cleveland
Considered a pillar in Cleveland's donut scene, Jack Frost Donuts has been making homemade donuts since 1937. Churning out dozens of donuts from scratch on a daily basis, Fat Tuesday will be a busy day for the bakery. Flavors include poppyseed, blueberry, raspberry, apricot, prune, lemon, Boston Creme Pie, white cream and chocolate cream, among others.
Becker's: 22088 Lorain Road, Fairview Park
It's a family affair when it comes to producing donuts for Cleveland. Clevelanders can be sure to get their paczki fix at this anchored local establishment. The Becker brothers went into business in 1946 and quickly gained success after the high demand for their donuts. The family continues to use original recipes at Becker's Donuts, Bakery and Cakes in Fairview Park and North Olmsted. Flavors offered on Fat Tuesday include apricot, plum, poppyseed, strawberry cream and cherry. A dozen of paczki is $25 or $2.25 each.
Lavender Jones Macarons: 412 Bacon Road, Painesville
This gluten-free bakery in Painesville is making sure there are Fat Tuesday-themed options for those who are gluten-free. There will be Kings Cake cupcakes and chocolate pecan praline cupcakes as alternatives to paczki.