My Polish inspired ‘Easter Eat Fest’…

I owe a lot of my passion and skill for baking to my Polish Granny, known as Babcia to us. At Easter, I think of Babcia a lot as it’s a time when my family get together to eat and celebrate our traditions. Some are more well known than others, we seem to have developed some of our own hybrid traditions which keep evolving over the years :)

I came across the photo below of me with my Babcia, taken at Easter many moons ago, smiling and happily clutching the fruits of our annual easter egg hunt. Memories like these make me smile :)

As per usual with my family’s traditions and get togethers, Easter revolves nearly entirely around food and eating. Good Friday kicks off early with…

My Mum rises early and makes batch upon batch of hot cross buns with a sticky sugar glaze…

They’re best straight out of the oven so we all loiter around eagerly, waiting for the beep of the timer. My Mum hardly has time to get the glaze onto them before they’re devoured…

Next up on this year’s eat fest we thought we’d give Polish doughnuts (paczki) a go for the very first time. This may be a little controversial as tradition has it that Paczki are made and eaten on ‘Fat Tuesday’, which falls on the same day as Shrove Tuesday. Babcia was the Queen of paczki and made them for us every year. Now, if you thought British doughnuts were unhealthy you ain’t seen nothing yet…

A Polish recipe surely wouldn’t be a Polish recipe without a good splash of Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka…

First things first we let the fresh yeast work its magic…

Before mixing it up with the other ingredients, including a whopping 8 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs and the vodka of course…

It all looked pretty unassuming…

So I left it to rise in the boiler cupboard. After 45 minutes it was making a good attempt at escaping the bowl…

So I knocked it back and put it back in to rise for another 45 minutes…

It turns out that you should never leave paczki dough unattended for that long. I went to check on it and ‘THE BLOB’ had invaded my parent’s boiler cupboard! There was even dough dripping down the boiler onto the carpet (have no fear that bit went straight in the bin :) Cue much hilarity and a major dough clear up operation!…

I decided it was wise to split the remaining dough into two bowls and to keep a very close eye on it for a last 45 minutes.

Then it was time to get shaping our paczki and filling them with jam, which also turned out to be an extremely messy, but fun, task…

Thank goodness my Dad was on hand to be jam monitor. He spooned a blob of sour Polish plum jam onto the dough for me… 

so that I could gently cover it over and shape the dough into a round doughnut ready for frying…

Now comes the really unhealthy bit…we melted 3 blocks of lard, yes, you heard correctly…lard…

Me and my Mum prepared a doughnut production line…

and then got cracking, frying 4 paczki at a time…

and turning them over when golden brown to cook the other side…

There was no denying that the kitchen had a particularly ’interesting’ lardy aroma but we hoped it’d all add to the end result (fingers crossed). As soon as I fished the cooked doughnuts out of the lard, my Mum got to work coating them in a glaze made from icing sugar, lemon juice, water and more vodka…

Then we left them to drain on a wire rack…

They didn’t remain there for very long, merely long enough for them to cool enough so as not to take the roofs of our mouths off! 

This, Ladies & Gentlemen, is paczki perfection…

They were the lightest, melt in the mouth-iest, most delicious doughnuts I’ve ever eaten. Krispy Kreme eat your heart out…Babcia would be proud!

Not bad for a days work…

However, we weren’t done yet…next up I made sernik na kruchym spodzie, which translates as cheesecake with a shortbread base. The shortbread pastry is so delicate and light. It’s filled with a decadent mixture of curd cheese, eggs, icing sugar, vanilla and raisins before being topped off with some shortbread latticework…

It’s baked for an hour and then left in the turned off oven until it’s fully cooled. It emerges looking like this…

I was dying to cut into it to reveal it’s true beauty…

I was really chuffed with my first solo attempt at sernik. Babcia obviously did a great job at passing on her skills…my Dad was extolling its virtues as ‘pure heaven’.

Another Polish Easter tradition is to prepare an Easter basket. When my grandparents were alive we would take it to church on Easter Saturday to be blessed (Swieconka). We always take great pride in our basket, filling it with traditional Easter items such as home-decorated eggs, kabanos, sernik, flowers, a lamb and a small bowl of salt, which all have symbolic meaning. My Sister prepared the basket for us this year…

This little beaut was my contribution…

After all of that cooking, preparation and very enjoyable hardwork, we sat down to do what we do best…eat!…

Happy Easter to all and your families! x

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “My Polish inspired ‘Easter Eat Fest’…

  1. Wow, those are some picture-perfect paczki! Do you have a recipe with specific proportions that you can share? I’m interested in learning how to make donuts.

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