One day, not too long ago, I got to spend the morning and afternoon with my Baba, making pounchki. She hadn’t made them in a number of years, but when I asked if we could make some, she was only too happy to oblige.
Food can ingrain some very detailed memories, and pounchki do that for me. They are like little fried doughnut holes, filled with a poppy seed filling. Pounchki are also known as paczki or pampushky. They are so good, and even better if you dust them with a little bit of icing sugar.
My Baba didn’t have a written recipe and my mum knows how to make them, but not the proportions of what you make them with. Now, after paying some studious attention, weighing and measuring as we went, we have a recipe. As we kneaded, rolled and pinched the morning away I got to hear about my Great Baba, her mother-in-law whom I never had the chance to meet. From what I’m told, she is the reason we only make pounchki in the winter.
I’m really happy with the way they turned out, and also that I’ve got a recipe so that we won’t be out of luck when my Baba decides she isn’t going to make them anymore. The following recipe is for a lot of pounchki, because my Baba does not make things in small batches. Feel free to halve or quarter the recipe.
PounchkiFor the dough:
5 Cup warm water
2 Tbsp yeast
1 Cup vegetable oil
1 Cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp salt
13 Cups of flour
- In a bowl, bloom the yeast with 1 Cup of the water and 1 Tbsp of the sugar. Allow to sit while you assemble the other ingredients.
- Beat 8 eggs together in a big bowl.
- Stir in the oil, remaining sugar, vanilla, salt and bloomed yeast.
- Mix in the flour until the dough will not take it in anymore, and then tip out of the bowl and knead, knead, knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Baba says: “You want a nice, soft dough.”
- Cover the dough with a damp tea towel and let it rise twice, punching down between rises, while you prepare the filling.
2 pounds of poppy seeds, ground with a coffee grinder (This way you can control how well ground they are, and they will be less likely to be rancid)
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup honey
2 Cups milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp lemon juice
- Combine all of the ingredients.
- Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often to ensure it does not burn.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Spreading the filling on a sheet pan to increase its surface area will help it cool more quickly.
- Roll our your dough, in portions, to about 1/4″ thick, and then cut it, with a knife into small squares, ~1 1/2″.
- Spoon about 1 1/2-2 tsp of filling onto a dough square. Pinch the corners of the dough together across the filling, and then pinch the seams closed, sealing the filling inside the dough.
- Roll the pounchki in your hand a little bit to help it become more spherical.
- Repeat the above three steps until you run out of filling.
- Deep fry the pounchki in batches in a pot of oil that is hot but not smoking, until puffed and golden brown. They do grow a fair amount during frying.
- Set fried pounchki on paper towels to drain away extra oil.
Serve as is, or dusted with icing sugar if you’re feeling fancy. If you have extra dough left after all of the filling is used, make doughnuts!
Pounchki are so good. These bring me straight back to being probably six or seven, in my mum’s kitchen, biting into my first one before even getting to the table.
Mr’s Babcia makes something very similar, but instead of poppy seed filling each golden bun of goodness contains a prune. Mr was not a fan of the pounchki I brought home, but in this case, Mr is crazy! He liked the doughnuts though.
This time last year: Spaghetti with Spicy Italian Sausage, Roasted Acorn Squash and Labneh