The most popular fruit tree in Poland is apple, growing in commercial orchards and home gardens. With an annual production of 2.5 million tons, Poland is the top producer of apples in Europe.
Old Polish apple cultivars that are still available today include Kosztela, Złota Reneta, Ananas Berżenicki, Antonówka, Kronselska and Malinówka. But other varieties, like Gala Royal, Golden Delicious, Idared, Jonagored, Must and Szampion, along with Granny Smith, McIntosh and Pink Lady are becoming more common.
Due to their abundance, apples are used in every course in Polish cuisine—appetizers, soups, salads, dumplings (pierogi), fried in batter (racuchy), pancakes (placki), crepes (nalesniki), main courses like roast duck with apples, grain dishes like rice with apples and cinnamon-sugar, desserts, especially szarlotka and jabłecznik, and in juices and compotes that are often served for wigilia (Christmas Eve dinner).
Here are 4 traditional apple recipes.
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Another common type of Polish apple dessert is apple cake, which is known as placek z jabłka or jabłecznik. It is made not with a flaky crust, as in szarlotka (above), but with a cake batter that is usually leavened with baking soda or baking powder. There are hundreds of recipes for both. This is how my family likes apple cake. The Polish version of apple pie is known as szarlotka (above) is made with a flaky crust. But this is truly a cake—placek z jabłka literally means "flat cake with apples." Try plums, peaches, nectarines or pears in this recipe and in szarlotka instead of apples, to good effect.
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Of all the Polish desserts in the word, Polish apple fritters or racuszki z jabłkami are my favorite. I don't know if it's the combination of sweet apples enveloped in a rich batter that is deep-fried to a golden brown that sends me over the moon, or if it's because they bring back fond memories. I can still see my mother at the kitchen stove frying these up for her brood who ate them faster than she could make them. I adapted this recipe from one by chef Marek (Mark) Widomski, founder and director of the Culinary Institute in Cracow, Poland.
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This is another version of Polish apple cake known as jabłecznik. This one is more like a szarlotka in that a shortbread crust is used but it is leavened with baking powder. What sets this one apart is meringue topping.
Gwizdały is located in Poland's Mazovia region, or Mazowsze in Polish. It is located in east-central Poland and encompasses the capital city of Warsaw. The village of Gwizdały, whose name literally means "whistled," boasts a whistle museum with specimens from all over the world.