Poland shares common traits in its cuisines with surrounding regions like Germany, Austria, and Hungary, and the influences of other cultures of central and Eastern Europe shines in Polish sweet confections, similar to other treats consumed in the area but proudly absorbed and tailored to local taste.
The items on this list of favorite Polish dessert recipes are well-loved throught the entire country, and we bring present them for you to taste a piece of this culturally and culinary diverse country.
01 of 10
Because these light-as-air fried bow knot pastries, known as chruściki, are labor-intensive to make, they are typically only served on special occasions. Small rectangles of a heavy egg and cream flour dough are shaped like a bowtie by tying the dough onto itself and then are deep-fried until golden brown. Some sprinkle them with powder sugar while others choose honey drizzle.
No matter the final touch you want to give them, these little treats are delicious and flaky, and you'd like to make a lot because eating just one is impossible. You need approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes to make these pastries.
02 of 10
Polish foldovers or kołaczki is another favorite Polish dessert that also takes time to make, so they usually make an appearance on special occasions, especially at Christmas time.
This Polish kołaczki recipe is made with a cream cheese dough that bakes up buttery and flaky. Kołaczki can be round, square or diamond-shaped, and the dough can be flaky or yeast-risen. Apricot, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, prune, almond, poppy seed, sweet cheese, and even pineapple are adequate filling for these cookies. You chose the flavoring you like the most, but do try this dough because it melts in your mouth. You need a total of 45 minutes to make the dough and shape and fill the cookies, and 1 hour for chilling the dough.
03 of 10
Pączki, or Polish doughnuts or Bismarcks as they are commonly known, are always served on Fat Tuesday as a splurge food before the fast days of Lent begin. But these decadent fried cakes also appear on special occasions throughout the year.
Pączki are made out of a yeast dough that is fried and can be filled with fruit preserves or compotes, or sweet cheese, or left hollow and simply rolled in sugar. The dough needs between 1 to 2.5 hours to rise for the first time, so plan ahead because a well-rested dough means fluffier cakes, and you have to prove this dough a total of 3 times. Once your discs are ready for the fryer let them turn golden brown before turning.
04 of 10
Apple tart or szarlotka is the Polish version of American apple pie, except the crust is sweeter. Szarlotka, apple cake, and sernik (cheesecake) make up the most frequently served sweets in Polish homes.
Make a buttery and sweet crust with eggs, heavy cream, flour, and butter and chill for 2 hours. The filling is made out of cooked apples in lemon juice, which are then combined with more sugar and spices. The pie crust needs to be blind-baked, the filling chilled before assembly and a beautiful dough lattice needs to top this beautiful dessert. Once all is in place, bake for 30 minutes.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Originally made with a pastry crust, in modern Poland, the cheesecake crust can be made out of cookie crumbs, Graham cracker crumbs, or simply made without any crust. The recipes for sernik are varied and each family has a favorite, but they all have in common a thick eggy custard made out of ricotta cheese.
Our recipe is the base from where all others vary and it's creamy, unctuous and plain delicious. Although it can be eaten without any toppings, many choose to add a fruit preserve or fresh fruit on top. Mix it up with chocolate shavings and strawberries, or apricot jam and sliced almonds. Ready in 1 hour and 20 minutes this classic Polish treat serves 8 generous slices or 12 medium-sized.
06 of 10
This Polish coffee cake recipe can be made with or without raisins and is only slightly sweet. A sugar-butter crumbly topping adds texture and makes it the perfect treat for a midday snack with a strong cup of coffee. Thick slices can be the perfect French toast base or add jelly or fruit compote on the side for a tea treat.
This dough needs a lot of mixing to incorporate air so be prepared to use all of your energy into the process. Although considered a cake, this dough uses yeast and needs to prove until doubled in size. Once divided into two bread loaf tins it has to rise again until it slightly mounds over the top. Bake for approximately 50 minutes.
07 of 10
Polish kołacz or wheel cake is a favorite dessert at old-time Polish weddings, especially among the gorale, people who live in Lesser Poland in the southeastern part of the country. This nostalgic recipe needs attention and effort but is worth every minute you spend on it because of the absolutely delicious result.
You need a yeast sponge and a lot of time of mixing, so a stand mixer is best. Make a wet dough by mixing the yeast sponge to eggs and sugar. This mixture will rest until doubled in size, and then transfer two 2 pans and let to prove again. A filling made with farmers' cheese, eggs sugar and raisins is dropped in the middle of the cake dough and let to sink. Cover each cake with a topping of sugar, butter, and flour and bake for 50 minutes.
08 of 10
This Polish cream cake dessert was renamed papal cream cake or kremówka papieska when it was learned Pope John Paul II loved it. I supposed it could be considered a Polish napoleon.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
This Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake recipe is known as karpatka. It's a peasant version of the more refined kremówka, which is made with puff pastry. Karpatka is made with the same type of dough used to make cream puffs and éclairs, known as pâte à choux in French. When dusted with confectioners' sugar, the dessert takes on the look of the craggy, snow-capped Carpathian Mountains, hence its name.
10 of 10
Polish mazurkas or mazureks are flat pastries, rarely more than 1 inch high, and there are as many recipes as there are cooks in Poland. Their appearance can vary widely. This recipe is for a royal mazurek with dollops of jam between the latticework of the dough.