The delicate, sweet Polish treat, called chruściki, faworki or angel wings, have been central to the dancing ambitions of Polish-Australian Michal Zdanowicz.
Zdanowicz says selling angel wings at fundraisers held by the Kukułeczka Polish Dance Group in Western Australia – of which he is a part – has helped the group share Polish culture with Australia and the world through dance.
"I would speak with mum about making these delicious angel wings, dusting them off with icing sugar and selling them in small packets," Zdanowicz says.
"These are usually a favourite of children as well as many adults as they aren't overly sweet, rather crispy and light."
Even though Zdanowicz is now based in Sydney, NSW, he has danced with the Kukułeczka Polish Dance Group for 10 years. Zdanowicz tells SBS Food, "I've been lucky enough to join the group, dancing all over the country and represent Australia in Poland."
Fundraisers have taken them to the Polish folk festival, called PolArt, which is held in a different Australian capital city every three to four years, and to Polish folk dancing competitions in Rzeszow in Poland.
Together with Western Australia's Polish Cracovia Club, the Kukułeczka Polish Dance Group also host Easter and Christmas events. They bring the whole community together; even Polish pastry chefs and butchers get involved.
"The process of making faworki just felt so wholesome, and it made me appreciate my heritage even more so – especially eating them fresh at the end."
Typically, angel wings are eaten during Poland's pre-lent period, termed Carnival. In Poland, this festive period is celebrated from a Christian commemoration known as Three Kings' Day, also known as the Epiphany, and up until Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.
In addition to raising dance group funds, angel wings also help Zdanowicz connect with his immediate family. Zdanowicz remembers making them when he was growing up in Perth.
"We would all sit around the kitchen breakfast bar, and my mum would start making the dough and rolling out the dough on a granite slab. We would help her often as she would be prepping other things like the oil and icing sugar," he says.
"Once we have kneaded out the dough, my mum would create the strips that would eventually fold out the angel wings. She would make the incisions into the cut pieces of pastry, and we would fold them in and place on a dry tea towel ready to be fried."
In sum, making angel wings has been a wholesome experience for Zdanowicz. "It made me appreciate my heritage even more so, especially eating them fresh at the end."
Polish angel wings
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp sour cream
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 2 tbsp butter softened
- 1 tbsp Polmos Spirytus Rektyfikowany (95% spirit) or vodka with a high percentage of alcohol (optional)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
- ½ cup icing sugar for coating
- Combine flour, egg yolks, sour cream, sugar, butter, spirits and salt in a bowl and form a dough.
- Knead the dough and roll it out on a floured surface in a large square. Cut into strips 7cm long and 2cm wide. Cut a slit in the middle of each strip. Twist and pull one end through the slit and rest each on a tea towel.
- Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan. Test the temperature by dropping in a pastry twist; the oil is ready when it browns and the pastry floats to the surface.
- Fry pastry twists in batches until golden brown and they puff and look crispy about 1 minute per side).
- Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Dust pastry with icing sugar through a sieve and serve.
Note: To make it as the Zdanowicz family does, you can use the extraordinarily strong spirit called Polish Pure Spirit Vodka (Polmos Spirytus Rektyfikowany) to make the angel wings extra crispy. Use responsibly.