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Does alcohol keep fried doughs from absorbing oil?

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And if it does, why? How much has this effect?

My mom always added a shot of whiskey to paczki (Polish donuts) and chrusciki (fried dough).

I thought it was just for flavor until reading about paczki. One person said that alcohol is used to prevent the donut from absorbing the oil and that was why donuts in Poland were less greasy.

Anyone heard of this? Or is that just an old wives tale passed down in someone's family?

I don't even have a clue on how to goggle this info, so maybe some of the responses would lead me in the correct direction even if you don't have a specific answer.

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  1. It makes sense to me. When food are deep fried at a hot enough temperature, water in the food vaporizes and pushes its way out of the food, thus preventing oil from going in. If you don't fry at a high enough temperature, or cook it too long, eventually the food will start absorbing oil. So I would assume that adding alcohol not only adds more liquid that can evaporate, but it also has a much lower boiling point than water so it will still turn to vapor at a lower temperature. It's a clever idea.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nja

      Nja, looks like you are right on. Here is something I found in a recipe:

      The rum is added to this recipe to prepare the pastries for deep frying. When the pastry is placed in the hot oil, the alcohol evaporates quickly and does not let the pastry absorb the oil. The alcohol is gone and it will leave a subtle flavor.

    2. I have never added any liquor to my paczki or chrusciki and they are never greasy. I fry them in a frying pan and use a thermometer to regulate the temperature at 350 degrees. I was in paczki heaven last night, as was my sister and husband (and with the leftovers today). How did yours taste? Did you add liquor? If so, what?

      3 Replies
      1. re: PolishMama

        I'm not a very good or patient cook. So I just let printed my grandmother's receipe for the douts. Sadly where I live, we dont have decent Polish donuts.

        I have made the chrusciki once and they were fabulous as always.

        I liked Nick's explantation about how a little alcohol could make frying more fool proof.

        1. re: rworante

          It is very interesting! I'll add some liquor next time and see if it makes a difference. I'm actually thinking about cooking Polish food - maybe restaurant or catering or bakery - in the SF Bay area. My grandparents are from Poland and I grew up in Chicago - have many great recipes. I love to cook and bake, just don't have professional experience. My email is bader-sf at pacbell dot net

          1. re: PolishMama

            PLEASE ... PLEASE open up a Polish Bakery in the Bay Area. There is NOTHING decent. One of the ways to go would be to start and one of the smaller farmers markets to try this out and see how you like it.

            Also, Seakor Polish Deli sells home-made Polish pasteries, so that might be a place to start ... any of the Russian delis ... even the dreaded Old Krakow has some independant suppliiers. Ditto the Polish deli in Concord.

            Anyway feel free to e-mail me if you would like some ideas on how to start ... not that I've ever done anything like this, but I'd be happy to pass ideas about which markets might be the most approachable.

            The email is backwards to prevent spamming and maybe some friendly vendors at the local farmers markets who might give you some concrete advice.

            Diet or not ... I promise to buy lots and lots of baked goods.