Family affair

“It’s going to be an 18 hour day” – Shaw Local

SYCOMORE – Fat Tuesday is known by many names – Ash Wednesday Eve, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, or as Ken Elleson, owner of Elleson’s Bakery in downtown Sycamore, affectionately calls it: Paczki Day .

It’s a family affair for Elleson, whose son, Eric Elleson, visited the family bakery at Michigan’s 344 W. State St. this weekend to help prepare fresh donuts with Polish filling for that customers gorge themselves before the start of Lent on Wednesday. The family baked homemade dough on Mondays and planned to work all night making the pączki from scratch so that it was ready by 5 a.m. for Mardi Gras. After the white night, the shop will be open until 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

“I had to bring the rest of my family, one from Michigan and one from Kenosha, Wisconsin,” Ken Elleson said Monday as he prepared for one of the biggest days of the season. year of the store.

The bakery business dates back at least a century for the Elleson family, he said. His ancestors opened their first pastry shop in Davenport, Iowa in the early 1900s. In Sycamore, the family shop offers pączki each year in 12 different flavors: apple, blueberry, cherry, peach, strawberry, lemon, raspberry, apricot, pineapple , banana cream, cream cheese, buttercream, chocolate buttercream, custard and chocolate cream.

Paczki Day coincides with Fat Tuesday as a precursor to Lent. It is a holy time marked by Christians believed to prioritize confession and absolution leading up to Easter. So what to do before that 40 day period, when many people are fasting? Eat donuts, of course.

The Polish feast originated as a way to use up all the eggs, sugar, and other goodies in the house before Lent, during which sweets or other goodies were not eaten. The day has grown in popularity in the region, among Midwestern cities including Chicago and Detroit, and has become a staple leading up to the season of Lent.

When fried, Paczki can be filled with fruit, jam or custard and topped with icing or powdered sugar. Other variations include different toppings, such as frosting and buttercream, while being topped with elements such as chocolate and/or granulated sugar. Plum and rosehip jams are traditional Polish garnishes.

The correct Polish pronunciation of “pączki” is “pownch-key”, but many pronounce it “punch-key” or “poonch-key”. The ogonek, or small tail, on the “±” is important: paczki with an “a” and not the “±” means “packages” in Polish.

Most Elleson customers are encouraged to place their orders ahead of time as demand is high for the popular pastry, which is traditionally topped with powdered sugar. Orders can be placed during working hours also by stopping in the bakery.

Apart from Christmas, the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival and a few others, Pączki Day is one of the most important of the year for Elleson’s.

“It will be an 18-hour day,” Elleson said. “Over the past five years, Fat Tuesday has really taken off.”

Although the majority of the donuts were filled and fried on Monday night, the Elleson team will also work until Tuesday, if the workforce can keep up with demand.

“It’s become a really big day, so we’re calling on all my kids to help out,” Elleson said.

Elleson said pączki was the essence of Fat Tuesday

“We basically stopped doing everything else,” he said. “Tomorrow is dedicated only to pączki. He’s gotten so big, that’s all we can do.