Paczki Day is upon us, and while many Windsorites will be loosening their belts towards the end of the day, the team at Blak’s Bakery was working a double shift to produce an astounding 30,000 Paczki.
Pronounced “poo-nshkie”, the paczki hails from Poland and is a deep-fried piece of dough which resembles a donut. Historically filled with plum in Poland, today paczkis come in a variety of flavours ranging from custard to blueberry. Having been known in Poland since the Middle Ages, the paczki has secured itself in the pages of history and is sure to be known for many years to come.
“We’ve been making paczkis since 1918 [when] the bakery [was opened] it was one of the products that we originally started [selling] here in Windsor,” explained Blak’s owner Tony Blak.
Residents really like their paczkis and Blak explained that he and staff are staff is both “honoured and impressed by the people’s love for their paczkis.”
Typically the bakery employs a staff of about 10, but on Paczki Day Blak brings in roughly 40 people to help bake, glaze, fill, package, and sell the beloved paczkis.
It’s certainly not a typical day at the bakery as some employees begin their shifts at 10pm the night before Paczki Day. “[We]run about 15 different batches of paczkis throughout the day [and] it takes about an hour to mix a batch of paczkis … an hour to fry them all, and an hour to fill them. From beginning to end, it’s about a 4-5 hours process.”
Blak has found that his customer’s favourite flavour is raspberry, and while it’s “not the traditional [plum favourite in Poland], here in Canada it seems the taste of Canadians is gearing more towards raspberry.”
Jurgen Schmidt was waiting in a lineup of roughly 25 (15 in the store & 10 standing in the cold) and he explained that while he’s been purchasing paczkis “for quite a while now” he and his girlfriend treat it as a tradition.
While he was planning on purchasing half strawberry and half blueberry, Schmidt remarked that a Nutella flavour would be an option, as he had just heard about the new flavour.
“My grandfather, whose recipe that we use today, learnt his baking at the Bristol Hotel in Warsaw Poland [and] worked there somewhere around 1903-4,” explained Blak, “[He] worked several years before he came to North America.”
Blak has continued the family recipe and “honoured the tradition that he started. He taught it to his children … and my father taught me, and I’m teaching my son and my niece. We’re continuing the family recipe for success.”
“One bite from any paczki, and your taste buds go to heaven with a side trip to paradise.” commented employee Daniel Gil who has worked been working at Blak’s Bakery since he was in the 7th grade.
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.