After 40 days of fasting for Lent, Poles pull out all the stops with a feast that begins on Easter morning and doesn't end until well past Easter Monday. Polish desserts are varied and delicious. These are some of the most popular ones for Easter. Probably the most conspicuous of all the desserts is the Easter lamb cake, representing the Paschal Lamb, that takes center stage on the dining table.
01 of 07
Easter lamb cakes are not just an American tradition. They are featured in Poland on the dining table that is decorated with pussy willows and a finely crocheted tablecloth.
They are often made with a pound cake batter that is poured into a cast-iron mold that has been passed down for generations, although these days aluminum molds hold sway. Any leftover batter goes into the making of a little cake for the święconka basket that contains small, symbolic portions of Easter food to be blessed on... Holy Saturday by the parish priest.
02 of 07
Baba or babka (the diminutive form of the word) means "old woman" or "grandmother" in Polish. The cake gets its name from the dessert's resemblance to an old woman's full skirt or a top knot.
This half-cake, half-bread, yeast-risen confection celebrates the return of the egg to the diet after Lent. A mere 15 eggs go into this recipe!
03 of 07
While not strictly an Easter dessert, kołaczki appear on most Polish families' table after every holiday meal. Kołaczki can be round, square or diamond-shaped, and the dough can be flaky or yeast-risen, and the fillings vary widely. This cream cheese dough produces a flaky pastry and that can be dolloped with prune, apricot, raspberry, cheese and nut filling. This is a great kids project.
04 of 07
Polish cheesecake or sernik is a ubiquitous dessert across Poland but, there is an infinite number of varieties. Some are crustless, some have pastry crusts and yet others have a cookie or graham-cracker crust. Sometimes they're baked in rectangular pans and sometimes in round pans. This recipe sports a cookie-crumb crust.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Mazurek, known as mazurka in English, is a flat Polish yeast-dough or pastry dough cake variously topped with almond paste, preserves and/or nuts, dried fruits, meringues, and sometimes left plain.
The one thing they have in common is they are rarely over 1 inch in height. They are typically served for Easter. This "royal" version is probably so named because the colored preserves peeking out of the lattice resemble the jewels in a royal crown.
06 of 07
Traditionally, chruściki, fried pastries also known as chrust faworki, which means "pastry twigs," are associated with the pre-Lenten feasting of Shrove Tuesday when another fried dessert, pączki (see below), also known as Polish bismarks or doughnuts, are served. But they both also show up for special celebrations, weddings and other holidays like Easter.
07 of 07
Every ethnic group has its splurge food for Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras. For Polish-Americans, it's pączki, which literally means "puffy." But these fried rounds of rich yeast dough (which are eaten on Fat Thursday in Poland) are also served on Easter and for any special occasion, like weddings. They can be filled with fruit preserves or sweetened cheese or left plain.