‘It’s all about the paczki’: Southland bakeries rev up production of sweet treats
What better way to celebrate Fat Tuesday than with good eats?
Several bakeries in the Southland have busily been preparing treats in advance of Tuesday, also known as of Paczki Day.
It’s traditionally observed by enjoying paczki, pastries stuffed with fruit or custard filling, before the Lenten season of prayer and fasting begins for Christians.
Bob Fleckenstein, co-owner of Fleckenstein’s Bakery, said orders for paczki don’t end on Ash Wednesday.
“It’s a popular item during Lent,” he said.
Fleckenstein’s Bakery has locations in Mokena and in New Lenox.
Fleckenstein said there’s a secret to making paczki.
“It’s a very enriched dough,” he said. “It’s not a glazed donut. It’s not a Bismarck. It’s a different dough.”
Paul Zettlmeier, co-owner of Zettlmeiers Bakery in Tinley Park, said he’s well versed on what to expect at this time of the year at the bakery.
“We’ve been here 41 years,” he said. “This is one of our busiest times of year.”
Zettlmeiers Bakery started accepting paczki orders about a month ago.
“We’ve had a significant amount of orders,” he said. “We’ll have plenty of additional paczki to sell for people who haven’t ordered.”
Zettlmeiers Bakery offers paczki in a variety of flavors, including poppy seed, prune and apricot.
“We are one of the few bakeries that still makes paczki with the old-fashioned method where the raw dough is filled and then fried,” he said. “It makes a huge difference. That’s the traditional, old-fashioned Polish paczki.”
Zettlmeier said he is expecting a good turnout Tuesday at the bakery.
“We’re pretty organized,” he said. “We have a good staff that gets people in and out as quickly as possible. At times, there can be lines.”
The Orland Park Bakery staff also have been preparing for Paczki Day.
“We’re always extremely busy that day,” owner Chris Konior said. “It’s our busiest day of the year, by far. It’s a lot different. Typically for Paczki Day, all we’ll make are paczki. We don’t make hardly any other donuts, breads or coffee cakes. It’s all about the paczki.”
Konior said the bakery turns to hire a number of temporary workers to help with cutting strawberries for the paczki.
Typically, the Orland Park Bakery is staffed by 40-50 people on a regular basis.
“We do have three different strawberry paczki,” Konior said. “We have fresh strawberry, fresh strawberry custard and fresh strawberry cheese, so that’s three of our flavors that are the most popular.”
Konior said she and her staff tend to see long lines wrapped around the bakery when they first open the doors on Paczki Day.
“It’s a tradition for a lot of people,” she said. “Usually, we see a lot of the same faces year in and year out.”
The Orland Park Bakery started accepting orders for paczki more than a month ago.
“We do ours a little differently,” Konior said. “It’s not just a Bismarck that’s filled. We actually cut them in half and generously fill them. We have over 80 different flavors.”