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Doughnuts are the most popular treat for Fat Thursday. I think they taste best on the day of frying. They become a little heavier on the following days. This is the recipe that my mom has always used, however I had to replace the fresh yeast with instant yeast. It’s pretty hard to find fresh yeast anywhere in the U.S. or Canada except for some Polish delis. I also had to cut the amount of ingredients because my mother’s original recipe delivers 30 doughnuts. The traditional filling is a rosehip jam but if you can’t find that in your neighborhood grocery, you can use a strawberry or plum jelly. The truth is you can fill it with chocolate, caramel and vanilla pastry or any other jelly you like. Some recipes recommend filling the doughnuts before frying and just making sure they are sealed well, but I prefer to do it afterwards. This way I know none of the filling will leak out and the doughnuts will fry evenly. The white stripe around the doughnut proves that the dough is light and fluffy and that you kneaded it well. It has nothing to do with the amount of oil in the Dutch oven. More »

faworkiThey may be called differently in different parts of Poland but they will always be the same delicious golden crispy deep fried bowties. Poles celebrate Fat Thursday instead of Fat Tuesday as in other countries. And of course Fat Thursday is the last Thursday before the beginning of Lent.  On Fat Thursday, we make various carnival treats, and faworki is one of them. This is the day when you put away all diets and need to eat at least one doughnut (a recipe that I will post soon) or a few pieces of faworki.
My grandmother would always use lard for frying.  In the past, lard was more accessible than oil so many traditional recipes still ask for it. I don’t really like the little scent that stays with the dough when I use lard, so I prefer to use canola oil. But feel free to try it the other way. More »

cake3This is a no kidding calorie bomb! You don’t make a cake like this every day, or even every month. This is a special occasion cake only. My mother used to make a meringue cake for birthdays in my family. So I like to follow this tradition and make that special treat for my loved ones.
There are so many ways to play with layers between each meringue cake. But if you don’t feel adventurous enough to do that, a simple mix of mascarpone cheese and whipped cream with a little passion fruit on the top will also be great. More »

kolaz versusThis is my first head-to-head tasting challenge. These are two similar ideas for recipes from different continents, a very European tart (Lemon Tart/Tarte au Citron) and a very American Lemon Meringue Pie. The only common ingredients were lots of lemons and eggs. What contrary results!  In my international family, it was pretty interesting to find out which of us preferred which dessert.  The results confirmed my European roots with my preference for the tart, while my All-American husband preferred the pie. These are two very different recipes starting from the dough, through the lemon curd, to the final touch and garnish.

tart15The biggest challenge here is the tart dough. This is very different than regular pie dough and is a little sweeter; hence the name for it is Pate Sucree (Sweet Dough). It is a little harder to roll out and very fragile and crumbly, more like a cookie dough.
I made, and threw out, 2 tarts before I finally tried a recipe that worked.  To make it work, I took inspiration and guidance from two places.  Again, the ideas from American Test Kitchen never fail, so I started there.  In addition, I recently have been reading a new book titled The Art of French Pastry by Jacquy Pfeiffer, and I love how everything is so nicely explained.  So these were my two guides.  The original French recipe asks for using a combination of almond flour and cake flour. Since I didn’t have any almond flower I decided to just use the all purpose flour. I tried to make the tart with just cake flour and this is the one that ended up in my trash. The all purpose flour has slightly more gluten and that’s what helps to keep the dough together and prevent it from crumbling. More »