Fat Thursday is a traditional Christian festival in some countries marking the last Thursday before Lent and is associated with the celebration of Carnival. Because Lent is a time of fasting, the days leading up to Ash Wednesday provide the last opportunity for feasting (including simply eating forbidden items) until Easter.
Traditionally it is a day dedicated to eating, when people meet in their homes or cafés with their friends and relatives and eat large quantities of sweets, cakes and other meals usually not eaten during Lent. Among the most popular all-national dishes served on that day are pączki in Poland or berliner, fist-sized donuts filled with rose hip jam, and angel wings (faworki), puff pastry fingers served with powdered sugar.
In Poland, Fat Thursday is called tłusty czwartek. People purchase their favorite pastries from their local bakeries. Traditional foods include pączki (doughnuts), which are large deep-fried pieces of especially rich dough, traditionally filled with plum or rose petal jam (though others are commonly used) and topped with powdered sugar, icing, or glaze. Angel wings (faworki) are also commonly consumed on this day.
The first donuts did not remind those that we know nowadays. Those made of the same dough as bread, filled with pork fat and fried on lard were popular until 16th century. Only afterwards they were made in a sweet way.
The most important secret is that the confectioneries do not make them in advance, every respectful cake shop makes pączki the night before the Poles reach the shops to buy them.
Polish pączki are still different than so called donuts or similar sweets made in other countries. Their dough is made of yeast, flour and eggs. Polish pączki are fried in deep oil or lard only for several dozen of seconds so that the fat would not soak inside. They taste the best when still warm! Some people used to fill few of them with almond or nut instead of marmalade while encountering this exquisite filling was supposed to bring good luck.
Although many housewives make pączki at home, one can still see crowds of people standing in the line at confectioneries to buy this Fat Thursday’s specialities!