In addition to its many indigenous savory foods, Poland boasts a great many native desserts which may be baked at home, purchased from a bakery or supermarket, or enjoyed at a restaurant or café. Some of these desserts are available all year long, while others are associated with certain holidays. Among the most popular everyday Polish desserts are sernik, budyn, and piernik. Popular Polish desserts which are usually only enjoyed during certain holidays include paczki, faworki, and makowiec.
Sernik, a type of cheesecake, is one of the most common everyday Polish desserts. Usually, this cake is made from a sweet-tasting curd cheese known as twarog. After being mixed with other ingredients to create a filling, this cheese is often baked on top of a thin cake crust. Ingredients such as chocolate, poppy seeds, or fruit may be used to enhance the cake’s flavor.
Budyn, or pudding, is also among the most popular everyday Polish desserts. Generally, budyn is prepared using milk, a thickening agent like egg yolks, and sugar. Beyond this basic recipe, it is something of a “blank slate” to which a number of different flavors, such as chocolate, cherry, or toffee, may be added. Budyn is often served warm.
Another everyday dessert that is quite familiar in Poland is piernik, or gingerbread. Piernik usually takes the shape of darkly colored, somewhat firm cookies that, due to the inclusion of sugar and honey as well as a range of spices, are at once sweet and piquant. These cookies may be dipped in chocolate or filled with jam or marzipan.
Some of the most well-known Polish desserts are enjoyed only during certain holidays. Among these are paczki, or sweet yeast donuts which are fried and then stuffed with a number of different possible fillings, such as stewed prunes, chocolate cream, jam, or sweet cheese. Traditionally, paczki are eaten only on the Thursday that precedes the start of the Catholic season of Lent. It was once believed that eating paczki on this day could bring luck for the year to come.
Faworki is another Polish dessert which is usually eaten in the lead-up to Lent. This dessert is made from pastry dough which has been cut into extremely thin strips and then fried, causing them to become light and crunchy. Before serving, faworki is often sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Finally, many Poles as well as those of Polish descent are familiar with the dessert known as makowiec, or poppy seed cake. This dessert consists of a jellyroll-style yeast cake which is filled with poppy seeds, nuts, and dried fruit. It is usually iced and is sometimes also topped with orange rind. Makowiec is generally associated with Christmas and Easter, although some individuals may eat it on a year-round basis.