CLEVELAND — Fat Tuesday—the food-centric holiday that's the Super Bowl for bakeries in Northeast Ohio— is your time to indulge in the deep-fried, deeply delish fried doughnut stuffed to the gills with jelly or a flavor of cream delicately tossed in powered sugar known as paczki (pronounced punch-key).
To love the paczki is to know the tradition of the beloved Polish pastry. Paczki is a Polish word that is already in its plural form. Paczek is the singular form. Made of ingredients of butter, sugar, cream and more sugar, all of which would be on the traditional list of items for Catholics to avoid for the 40 days of fasting known as Lent, these polish doughnuts are considered the last rally of indulgence.
Stan's Northfield Bakery: 9395 Olde 8 Road in Northfield
Since 1961, this family bakery specializing in Polish and Eastern European pastries has perfected the paczki that 10 flavors are on its daily menu. But for Fat Tuesday, this pillowy pastry is front and center and the flavor list is more expansive than ever. The following flavors will be available Tuesday: raspberry, strawberry, lemon, apple, apricot, blueberry, prune, vanilla cream, chocolate cream, cream cheese, Bavarian custard, chocolate custard, coconut custard, poppyseed, nut, plain — no filling and marshmallow meringue.
A limited number of their signature Peanut Butter Big Dupa paczki will be available.
The tradition of Paczki making is a rich one that runs deep in the hands of bakers like Leslie Srodek-Johnson.
“It's kind of funny… We have been making paczki since 1961. When the trend really took off about 20 years ago… we equated it to the excitement about eating corned beef on St. Patrick's Day or tacos on Cinco de Mayo. If there was this much excitement about Polish bakery every single day… We would definitely need a way bigger building,” Srodek-Johnson said.
Doors open at 5 a.m Tuesday until about 3 or 4 p.m.
The Vegan Doughnut Company: 14811 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood
What started out as a pop-up location turned into a brick-and-mortar store that attracts lines long before the doors open, sisters Kharisma and Kyra have created Ohio’s first and only Black-owned vegan doughnut shop.
After being vegetarians for nearly a decade and then deciding to become fully vegan, the sister duo realized options were limited when it came to satisfying their frequent doughnut craving, so after months of trial and error, they decided to open up the shop in Downtown Lakewood and the rest is history.
“Our shop is completely vegan and nut-free. It feels amazing to be able to offer Paczki for people with dietary restrictions and allergies.”
On Fat Tuesday, The Vegan Doughnut Company will be offering Raspberry Jelly, Apple, Vanilla Custard, Lemon Curd, Vanilla Cream Chocolate Cream, Apricot Jelly, Strawberry Jelly, King Cake Doughnuts.
Doors open at 8 a.m.
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. Along with the bakery's 2022 flagship Porco Hurricane Paczki, there will be 30 flavors that satisfy both sweet and savory palettes.
"It's New Orleans meets Warsaw! Bourbon Street beads and babushkas," said Lidia Trempe, owner of Rudy's Strudel, about the Fat Tuesday celebration taking place at the shop.
Not only is Rudy's the place in Parma to get the paczki, but it's a Mardi Gras Day party, with live music beginning at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
From 1-4 p.m., live polka will be performed by bandleader Tom Mroczka and his band. There will be space for dancing both inside and out, trivia contests, Polka instructions, raffles and giveaways.
The Current Year Records and Tapes will also open doors at 5 a.m., with special surprises throughout the morning.
The bakery sold 78,000 paczkis.
Mitchell’s Ice Cream: 1867 West 25th Street in Cleveland
Cleveland’s Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream always churns up creative flavors of ice cream. In honor of Fat Tuesday, the ice cream shop created a special treat that combines packzi and ice cream. Paczki are typically filled with fruit or cream, but Mitchell’s is filling packzi with a scoop of ice cream.
The decadent treat will be available only while supplies last, at the Ohio City location at 1867 West 25th Street in Cleveland.
“We have enjoyed collaborating with them [Rudy's] on this special offering for several years now,” said a spokesperson for the ice cream shop.
EDWINS Leadership and Bakery 13104 Buckeye Road in Cleveland.
Edwins Leadership and Restaurant, known for its fine dining French cuisine that gives formerly incarcerated adults a foundation in culinary and hospitality skills, EDWINS Bakery and Training Center, which opened in 2019 at 13106 Buckeye Road as a training ground for hands-on education and work experience.
Brandon Chrostowski, founder, CEO & President, is celebrating his European roots and offering customers the product of a recipe passed on through the generations.
“It’s absolutely incredible to be able to bring my grandfather’s original recipe from Częstochowa to Buckeye Road where the Eastern European tradition continues," said Chrostowski. "We’ll have our hand-rolled, hand-shaped and handcrafted paczki available at EDWINS Bakery all day long where the fresh, delicious deep-fried doughnuts will be served straight out of the oven. We’ll also have live music from accordionist Joey Tomsick and polish spirits! EDWINS Bakery will be the place to be this Fat Tuesday!”
The flavors being offered are cherry, lemon, raspberry and prune.
Doors open at 8 a.m.
Goldie's Donuts: 5211 Mayfield Road in Lyndhurst
As a family-owned business with several generations of baking experience and original recipes, Goldie’s is well versed in making the Polish paczki.
For Fat Tuesday, customers can expect to indulge in apricot, chocolate, lemon, blackberry or raspberry and covered in mounds of powdered sugar.
Doors open at 6 a.m.
Brewnuts: 6501 Detroit Avenue in Cleveland
Brewnuts, known for its extravagant and fun craft beer-based doughnuts, will open its doors at 6:30 a.m.
Festivities start at 6:30 a.m. with hurricanes in party cups, Zydeco tunes on blast and limited edition paczki T-shirts made in collaboration with CLE Clothing Co.
Brewnuts will be offering strawberry (vegan), chocolate custard (vegan), lemon (vegan), fruity pebbles creme (vegan), blueberry (vegan) flavored paczki.
A king cake latte will also be available, because there was never a more perfect combo than coffee and cake merged into a delicious cup of caffeine.
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