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Fat Tuesday treat is sweet family tradition

By Stefanie Frazier For The Beacon-News February 16, 2012 12:28PM Paczki, Polish pastries simalar to jelly-filled doughnuts, and have been a Fat Tuesday tradition at Harner’s Bakery in North Aurora. | Photo courtesy~Harners’ storyidforme: 25820834 tmspicid: 9400203 fileheaderid: 4315346 Order nowTo place an order for paczki for Fat Tuesday — Feb. 21 — call Harner’s at 630-892-4400. For info on all the types of paczkis available, visit the bakery’s website at harnersbakery.com. Updated: February 16, 2012 2:49PM Jodi Binkley had laughed at her father’s creative idea.Binkley and her six brothers and sisters chuckled at dad Darryl Harner, who in the mid 1990s decided to introduce a little-known-in-the-Fox-Valley Polish pastry at Harner’s Bakery, Restaurant and Catering in North Aurora. These doughnuts are paczki — round, fried heavy dough treats filled with fruits or chocolate cream and rolled up in sugar or icing. Paczki (pronounced PUNCH-key) are served on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Binkley said paczki comes from Poland’s Catholic heritage where people would use “forbidden ingredients” like sugar, eggs, lard and fruit so a family could have their last treat before the Lenten fasting period. “I’m kind of surprised that we’re selling as many as what we did,” Jodi’s brother and baker, Chris Harner, said. “I was never expecting thinking, 10, 15 years down the road that we would be selling as many as we do.” Around 1994, Harner’s made about 50 paczki — and that number has been increasing dramatically through the years at the family run bakery. Last year, the Harner’s bakers made about 13,350 of the pastries.Paczki made its debut inside the display case at Harner’s Bakery because Darryl Harner had made trips to Europe and become inspired by the small bakeries, Chris explained. “He’d watched the people over in Europe making ‘em and he’d come around and say, ‘Hey, do you mind me watching you make it?’” Chris said of his late father. About a decade later, Chris said, they heard a discussion on a radio station about the pastry. And then Darryl said, “Hey, we need to start making some of them.” Together the father and son fine-tuned the recipe. One standout part about their treat is it is super stuffed. “That’s something we pride on,” Chris said, “because we pack them full with filling. We don’t skimp on that.”Chris added that the pastries are made from scratch and are fresh.“We don’t fry them ahead… and freeze them,” Chris said.Binkley calls the doughnuts delicious.“You bite into them and the fruit’s there and it pours out,” she said. “… Everybody’s got their own favorite.”There are plenty of flavors to choose from, like lemon with powdered sugar or chocolate crème with chocolate or apple with cinnamon or apricot with icing. Dad would be proud Binkley said she pictures her dad laughing from heaven and telling his children “I told ya!” Harner’s manager Jeanine Bennett, another daughter of Darryl and Joyce Harner, pictures her dad from heaven, too.“I know at Paczki Day he’s gonna be looking down with his big ol’ grin from ear to ear for what he started,” Bennett said. “I know they’d both be very proud.”

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