Food from the Heart: Desserts from Poland
Poland, situated west of Ukraine, has a rich cultural heritage, with the beautiful southern city of Kraków drawing millions of visitors annually. Katarzyna Kosiniak-Kamysz, wife of the Polish Ambassador, shares with us some recipes of desserts from home.
babka yeast cake
“For me, Christmas and Easter were always connected with babka yeast cake,” says Katarzyna Kosiniak-Kamysz, wife of the Polish Ambassador. As a little child, she’d wake up on the morning before Christmas, and find the whole house fragrant with the scent of yeast and sugar. “The aroma of the yeast cake reminds me of the cosiness of my home.” Another memory: After yeast has been added, and while the dough was rising, no kids would be allowed in the kitchen. “The idea was not to disturb the cake,” says the 57-year-old Kraków native.
“So there was no running, no shouting, and no screaming, because you don’t want the cake to sink.” The babka, which is baked in a bundt pan, tastes like a dense, crumbly tea cake, and I especially like the icing sugar drizzle, a hint of sweetness scented with lemon juice and zest. The biggest apple producer in Europe is Poland. The abundance means that apples are often sautéed in butter and sugar till soft, and topped with a soft meringue and crusty crumble for a Polish apple crumble, known as szarlotka. “In fact, our apple pie is made with Polish apples!” shares Kosiniak-Kamysz, joyful. “You can get them from supermarkets in Singapore now.” Apples are in season from summer till winter, while strawberries and raspberries are in season only in June. “We have a variety of strawberries that are small, but sweet,” says Katarzyna Kryczka, who works at the Polish Embassy.
That’s why the raspberry cheesecake, known as sernik na zimno, is a summer dessert in Poland. Like the apple crumble, you’ll find it easily in any café. With a carnival treat, angel wings, also known as faworki (ribbons) or chrust (twigs), the invention could very well have been an accident. “The story goes that a junior pastry chef was making doughnuts,” says Kryczka. “Instead of making a nice ball for a doughnut, he took a loose piece of dough, and slid it into the frying pan.” When he was told by the senior chef that this was a mistake, he decided to prove him wrong, dressing them with icing sugar. “In the past it was made from the same pastry as doughnuts. Today, this pastry is more crisp, delicate, and thin.” Golden-brown, fragrant, and crumbly, these light and airy angel wings are an additive snack that you just can’t get enough of.
traditional Polish costume
Adapted from the Mar Apr 18 issue
of Cuisine & Wine.
Try Polish delicacies such as carpaccio with smoked cheese, Polish pâté with cucumber cooler cocktail, Polish gnocchi with chicken and szarlotka cocktail, goose leg with apple mousse and cranberry sauce, and a dessert of marenga with strawberry by Polish chef Artur Moroz at Wooloomooloo. Get your tickets here