Polish Bakery Goods
Poland has some great sweets. Sometimes I wonder why is it that everyone talks about Polish sausage or wodka and few people appreciate the sweet stuff. It is just as good as Swiss sweets to me. This is what you will find in every bakery in Poland.
Pączki , which are a Polish version of a donut are a popular snack here. They are actually a lot better than donuts because they have jam inside, usually rose jam, but other kinds also, as well as chocolate or coconut cream. The bad news is, they will kill your silhouette if you have too many of those treats. They are fried and topped with either icing or powdered sugar. This adds up into about 300 calories. Pączek actually has its own celebration day, kind of. It is called Fat Thursday (Polish: Tłusty Czwartek) and falls on the last Thursday before Środa Popielcowa (Popielec), which is the day that the Fast begins. Fat Thursday is meant to be your last chance to indulge yourself before the fast, as you are not supposed to have treats once it begins. That tradition has vanished though and no one obeys it anymore except for the nuns. But Tłusty Czwartek remained there and you will see lines of people in the bakeries all around town. It is almost a crime to come home without a box of something sweet for your family on that day.
Drożdżówki are distant cousins of Pączek, but those are baked and never fried. The name means something made of yeast. So it is a sweet yeast bun with a filling. The most popular ones are sweet cheese, marmalade, poppy seed or pudding, but there is a million other kinds. They are considered breakfast food and make a great addition to coffee. If one works in an office, chances are they eat it every day. There are also French or half-french drożdżówki, which shouldn’t be called that since it’s a completely different thing. Not everybody likes them but I’m a fan. They are messy to eat though and will leave crumbs all over your clothes.
Kremówki. Those are exceptionally sweet for Polish standards, which is why they are usually not very big. Not as sweet as Hiszpan, the most extreme case which I will describe later, but still can give you a sugar rush. The name means something creamy and it is a light colored cream (usually yellowish) between two layers of French pastry. Most of the time it is whipped cream and vanilla pudding, some of them have two layers and those are called Kremówka Wiedeńska (Vienna style kremówka). Kremówki were popularized by the Polish Pope John Paul II as during the visit in his home town of Wadowice he mentioned eating them with his friends after taking high school final exams.
W-Z, also known as Wuzetka. The name comes from an East-West route in Warsaw (Wschód- Zachód). Do not ask me what is has to do with a cake. But what we know is that it is made of two layers of chocolate pastry with whipped cream in the middle and chocolate on top. Sometimes it has a thin layer of jam just under the chocolate coat.
Hiszpan. The word means ‘Spanish Guy’. I’m quite positive it is the sweetest cake you will find in Poland. The base is called Beza (Meringue), which is made of egg whites and sugar. The space between two bezas is stuffed with whipped cream, chocolate or coffee cream. A lot of Polish people stay away from it, as they generally do not like their cakes too sweet. I am one of those people but I actually bought one during my low sugar time. And still could only take two bites.
Ziemniaczek (‘potato’) is a little brown ball covered in coconut, cocoa or walnuts, made of ground pastry or digestive cookies with some chocolate and alcohol added. It often has nuts inside as well. Those are easy to make at home too, and do not require baking.
Napoleon is probably the most funny looking one here. It is a tall Barbie pink cake, or as Polish people would say- panty pink. It basically consists of a sticky egg white with some strawberry syrup and is covered with a thin layer of French pastry, decorated with some more of that sticky pink stuff. Do not order it if you are on a date, it is definitely not a masculine cake. When it comes to sweetness level, it is just after Hiszpan.
There are many more of course, those are just the most significant ones. My advice is when you are in Poland, try a different thing every time you go have coffee, as there is a lot to explore.