Making paczki with Sister Pie

In years past, we have provided you with guides to help you celebrate Paczki Day. This year, we decided to get our hands dirty and actually make paczki with 2014 Hatch contest winners, Sister Pie. Fresh off of a 24 hour #dancebreakathon, the ladies of Sister Pie have been gearing up for Paczki Day all week. We thought it would be fun to join Lisa Ludwinski, owner/head baker, and Anji Reynolds, pastry cook, in the kitchen Paczki Day Eve. (We even live 'grammed the whole thing.)

You may have seen Sister Pie gearing up for this "Pazcki Party" all week. But why do they do it? (Lisa has assured us they're "not donut-makers.") Originally, it was just a whim, "Like, 'Oh, what if we made weird paczki ?' 'LET'S DO IT.'"

This is the second year in a row Lisa and Anji have made paczki, and though Ludwinski told herself that once was enough, she decided to do it again. "It's worth it because people around here get pumped about paczki," she says. "I don't have to tell you that it's a huge deal, and we're just happy to be a part of it."

Lisa Ludwinksi of Sister Pie

Part of the appeal of taking on Paczki Day is the challenge. "
Can it be done? We can make pie with our eyes closed, but doughnuts are a totally different ball game," says Ludwinski. "They're kind of scary. But I thrive on taking risks in the kitchen. I tend to go through several phases: first there's lots of planning, then there's a bit of a freak out around midnight, then we eat a snack and pull it together and there's the ultimate paczki glory, which is seeing people get excited about them."

Sister Pie's Paczki flavors(photo credit to @sisterpiedetroit instagram account)

Most of us in Southeast Michigan have had Strawberry and even Rose or Prune paczki, but Sister Pie is using non-traditional flavors. Ludwinski explains each of her choices:

Pumpernickel Poppy Meyer Lemon

"We are obsessed with using alternative flours, so the pumpernickel paczek was a no-brainer. We're also obsessed with poppy seeds, and since there is an Eastern European culinary tradition of poppyseed filling in pastries, we thought this would be a good chance to go wild with them. Everyone should bring dental floss to work with them tomorrow (and probably not have to take a drug test anytime soon, for that matter) because we are stuffing them with a heck of a lot of poppy seeds."

(photo credit to @sisterpiedetroit instagram account)

Salted Peanut Butterscotch

"We like to do one that's fruity/light and one that's more rich/cream-based. The salted peanut butterscotch is definitely the rich one this year."


"AND last but not least, the hybrid pierogi-paczki. We had been playing around with the idea of doing a savory paczek (especially since we don't do just sweet pies...we do savory, too). Pierogi as inspiration fit the bill in the best way. It's already common for people to put mashed potato right into the paczki dough, so that worked perfectly. Then we mash more potato and mix it with cheddar and onion! It really does taste like the doughnut version of a pierogi."

(photo credit to @sisterpiedetroit instagram account)

But how are paczki actually made? For one thing, paczki are fried, which is a challenge for Ludwinski and Reynolds, who are primarily bakers.

(photo credit to @sisterpiedetroit instagram account)

"It's a yeasted doughnut," says Ludwinski, "so you begin by scalding milk (we use Guernsey buttermilk) and then mixing that into yeast until it dissolves. Then you add a small portion of the flour mixture and let it do its thing for a little while, like 30 minutes. It'll get kinda bubbly and active. "

(photo credit to @sisterpiedetroit instagram account)

"In the meantime, you get some eggs going in a little bowl, whisking until frothy. Then you add sugar and salt and maybe vanilla depending on which paczek."

"Once the yeast mixture is ready to go, you mix in the egg/sugar stuff to that. Then you add all the flour and use the dough hook on the mixer to bring it all together. It's really sticky."

"Put that in a bowl and it rises for an hour, or until doubled in size."

"You bust it out onto a floured countertop, gently pat it down, and cut out paczek rounds."

The pazcki are place onto trays where they are covered with a towel to rise again. "THEN you heat up the big pot of oil, fry them paczki like it's nobody's business."

The paczki fry for 2-3 minutes then are flipped and fry for another 2-3 minutes. Then they are fished out and put onto racks to cool. (Watch a video of paczki frying here.)

Then each individual
paczek has to be cut and filled.

They are glazed (and even covered with crushed peanuts in this case).

(photo credit to @sisterpiedetroit instagram account)

Then they're boxed up and they're off!

You can get your Sister Pie Paczki at Parker Street Market, Germack Coffee Roasting, and Always Brewing Detroit. Supply is limited at all locations, so get your paczki early.

Learn more about Sister Pie by following them on instagram @sisterpiedetroit and by visiting their website.


(photo credit to @sisterpiedetroit instagram account)

Alissa Shelton is the director of strategic development for Model D's parent company Issue Media Group. She lives in Hamtramck and has a fixation on Paczki Day. Follow her on instagram at @whamtramck.

This piece could not have been possible without Erica Schopmeyer's help in the kitchen and willingness to collaborate on the live social media feed of Paczki Day Eve.

Photos by Alissa Shelton unless otherwise noted.