Hello crisp, crumbly little treats, full of teeny tiny air bubbles, drenched in a white cloud of sugar. Hello rich pastry twisted on itself into long shapes. Hello carnival and parties and bowls of faworki that disappear in minutes after landing on the table. And hello therapeutic motion of rolling and whacking the dough and saying goodbye to stress and frustration.
I love that I have certain foods which are synonymous with seasons and celebrations. And that I can share with my children and my readers recipes which belonged to my family. And that hopefully they will bring you as much enjoyment as they have brought me. These are one of those foods. And they are part of my Polish tradition which hopefully both my children will carry on. Faworki are traditionally eaten throughout the continental Europe at this time of the year. They go hand in hand with doughnuts and are eaten in vast quantities on the last Thursday, also known as Fat Thursday, before the Lent and right up to it. Traditionally these were made to use up the last remnants of butter, sugar and eggs before the fasting commenced so that nothing would go to waste. And although we might not observe the Lent, I love mixing Polish traditions with English ones and therefore our children will have faworki, doughnuts and pancakes this week. Best of both worlds.
The pastry dough is simple but requires some handling and patience. It needs to be chilled and allowed to rest before the systematic process of rolling out and whacking the dough can commence. The idea is to break up the gluten in the dough thus creating hundreds and hundreds of air bubbles that mark the surface of the pastries immediately as they hit the hot fat. This is how my Grandma made them and my Mum and that’s how I usually make them too. It’s a great little workout before the frying commences and when your arm is aching with pain, I’d say you have worked the pastry just about enough. Meaning you will be enjoying these fried pastries even more! In my book, life is too short for regrets over food but moderation is a key. After all, it’s not like you are eating these everyday.
However, as great stress busting this method normally is, it is also a little time consuming. My work weeks these days are crazy meaning the day job takes over a little. Not a balance I enjoy but something we all have to put up with from time to time. And as long as it goes back to normal, we can cope with it for a short period of time. Therefore I resulted to taking a little shortcut and moved away from the tradition slightly. Instead of spending time I do not currently have on rolling and incorporating air into the dough, I used my meat mincer instead. Without any detriment to the taste and texture of faworki. I made the dough in an evening, placed it in the fridge to rest briefly, put it through the mincer and left if refrigerated for 24 hours. They were shaped and fried the following night with the help from my daughter. And as expected, they didn’t last the evening. So when time is short, I will certainly be falling back to this method again. Couple of important things to remember: vodka is added to the pastry to make it more crispy but also to stop faworki from absorbing too much fat. Do spend time on the rolling and whacking, or mincing. And make sure your fat is hot when you start frying as you want the pastries to cook quickly. Here is the recipe.
- 450 grams of plain flour
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp of vodka
- 180 ml of sour cream
- pinch of salt
- rape oil for frying
- icing sugar for decorating
Place all the ingredients onto a board or a counter and kneed them together until a smooth and elastic dough is achieved. It should not be sticky at all and should come together into a ball easily. Kneed it for further 10 minutes or so to work up the gluten. Wrap the dough in some cling film and place it in a refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest.
Once rested, remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a lightly floured board. Roll it out thinly before folding back on itself. Once folded, whack it with your rolling pin, working your way up and down the dough. Fold it again and roll it before repeating the process of whacking, folding and rolling. Alternatively, put the dough through a mincer at least couple of times. In both instances you should hear the air bubbles crackle and pop as you continue to work the dough. Wrap the dough in more cling film and place in the refrigerator to rest for 30 minutes or overnight.
Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out thinly, about 3 mm in depth. Using a pastry cutter or a sharp knife, cute the dough diagonally into long ribbons about 4 cm in width. Now cut the ribbons horizontally so that you end up with pastry shapes about 10 cm in length. Make a small incision in the middle of each pastry shape, long enough to pass the pastry back on itself. Shape them all by passing one end through the cut and gently pulling it out back on itself. Cover faworki with towel whilst you heat the oil.
Once the oil is hot, fry faworki in batches as they will double in size. They will only take a minute or so on each side so don’t walk away. Once they are golden brown all around and their surface all knobbly with air bubbles, remove them onto some paper towel before moving onto a large plate as you work through the batches frying, resting and moving. Once all of the faworki are fried and cooled down, cover them in a cloud of icing sugar, be as liberal or as conservative as you like but here the more is definitely better. Serve faworki as they are and watch them disappear quickly. They are irresistible. Enjoy x