The Fresh Loaf

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Floydm's picture

Eating in Poland

This is my last post about my trip before returning to posts about managing the site and baking, I promise! -Floyd

As far as I can recall, we ate Polish food exclusive on this trip.  Not out of necessity, mind you: at least in cities like Warszawa and Kraków you can dine on sushi, burgers, Italian food, phó, pretty much anything you like now. Chains like Starbucks, McDonalds, Hard Rock Cafe, and KFC are about as common as in the rest of Europe.  We didn’t take this trip to eat American or Italian or Japanese though, we went to eat Polish.

Polish food is very good.  My wife’s comment was “When I came here when I was twenty, it was the night life and the drinking that were the big temptations.  This time, it is the food!”  I agree and could go on and on about the cuisine there, though I’m going to limit myself to this one (admittedly fairly long) post, first discussing the meals and then some particular foods of interest.

The spices in Polish cuisine are mild. Very mild: think dill and marjoram, often with cream. 

One of the strongest flavours?  Smoke.

Curing, pickling, and fermenting meats and vegetables was an important way of preserving food in the days before reliable refrigeration and still plays an important part in many of the traditional dishes.

And, yes, to get the question out of the way, the kełbasa (sausage) really is all that.

The first meal of the day is śniadania.  

A traditional spread at śniadania is likely to include bułki or chleb (rolls or bread), szinka (ham) and wędliny (cold cuts), cottage or farmers cheeses - sometimes with radishes and chives mixed in or to be eaten with it on bread, sliced pomidory and ogórki (tomatos and cucumbers), masło (butter) and ser (cheese - usually a white or yellow one - the familiar orange cheddar that Americans usually eat is still a rare sight there). Herbata (tea) is drunk more often than coffee, with lemon and honey or sugar rather than milk.  Soft boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, or omelet with chopped ham or kełbasa are also not uncommon. Another common dish is parówki (a kind of hot dog - usually pork or chicken), sometimes served with cheese.

The largest meal of the day, obiad, is eaten in the early afternoon.  At my grandmother-in-law’s house, obiad was usually a three course affair.  First soup such as barszcz (based on beets), zurek (a rye sourdough soup pictured below that I’ve mentioned previously and which I’m trying again to make at home), zupa pomidorowy (tomato soup), or a chicken broth.  

The main dish was usually a meat + starch + vegetables affair, something like some sort of schab (pork roast) or kotlety (cutlets) with ziemniaki (potatoes) or kluski (either noodles or dumplings depending on the type) or ryż (rice), and a chopped salad or some type of cooked/fermented mushrooms or cabbage.

 Another common meal is to have one of many kinds of pierogi. Pierogi come stuffed with meat, potatoes, mushrooms, cheese, cabbage, or even fruits and berries.

And no meal was complete without dessert, typically some sort of fruit in gelatin, a slice of cake, and more herbata.

To wrap it all up, almost every obiad was closed with some sort of sweet liqueur or flavoured vodka, often times homemade.

After that we’d often try to go to go back out and do something, but usually the most I could manage was to read a book or watch TV for a bit and try not to fall asleep.  Light eating it is not!

The evening meal, kolacja, is typically smaller and happens later in the evening than in North America.  More bread and cold cuts, for example, or some slices of whatever roast was made for obiad.  Just enough to tide you over until morning.

Not everyone eats like this, of course.  I’m sure busy folks who work in offices eat desk lunches the way many of the rest of us do.  When we asked a waiter who we were chatting with what he had for śniadania, he told us “today, cereal.” 

A few specific items worth mentioning:


As I blogged about earlier, one of the things I most anticipated eating on this trip were pączki, the jelly doughnut-like treats found in Polish bakeries around Easter.

 I tried four or five different bakery’s versions of them.  The worst were simply plain, not unlike grocery store jelly doughnuts.  The best, either those from A. Blikle Bakery in Warszawa or one of the bakeries I tried near the rynek in Kraków, were outstanding: sweet but not too sweet, soft, rich, and distinctly floral from the rose petal jam filling.  They are definitely something you should try if you have an opportunity to.    

Ciasto i sernik

Polish cakes and pastries are excellent.  Napoleonki (aka mille feuille) and Wuzetki (usually marked "W-Z") are two of the best known, and there are innumerable delicous varieties of cheesecake (sernik) to be tasted. If you have an opportunity to visit, be sure to stop when you see a cukiernia, which is like a Polish pâtisserie.  You won’t regret it!


Naleśniki are the Polish equivalent of crêpes.  Like crêpes you can order them for any meal and will find them served sweet or savory, containing sweet white cheese, berries, ham, or mushrooms.  They are very good.  I'm already trying my hand at making them at home, using sweetened ricotta cheese to try to recreate the white cheese that the fruit ones are usually stuffed with.


The bread (chleb) we had in Poland was consistently fresh and consistently good, similar to the breads I’ve had in other Northern and Eastern European countries.

The white rolls (bułki) we had for śnadanie were light and crackly, and the darker breads heavier and excellent with things like pasztet, a baked Polish pâté.  

I didn’t come home with any particular loaves that I felt like I had to reproduce, more just a general sense that I should branch out and try a few more formulas with nuts, grains, or more spelt and rye in them.  I don’t think I’ll regret it!


No profile of Polish food and drink would be complete without mentioning wódka (vodka).  We actually didn’t have any straight wódka on this trip or witness any heavy drinking, though we did notice a number of 24 hour liquor stores. Rather we had many toasts and after-dinner cordials, some homemade such as a red current and a nut one, and others purchased such as Soplica flavoured with hazelnut or cherries, Krupnik flavoured with honey and which I had with hot water and lemon, or my wife’s favourite “old lady vodka” Avocaat, which I gather is actually of Dutch origin but which is popular with ladies of a certain age in Poland as well.  Kogel mogel is another name for a thick, sweet egg cordial (which can be made with or without the liquor) like this too.  

A couple of regional foods worth noting.

Obwarzanki Krakowskie

Obwarzanki Krakowskie are a close relative of, some say precursor of, the bagel.  Sold by street vendors all over Kraków, they are reputed to go back nearly 700 years.   Priced at 1.5 złoty (about 50 cents) a piece, they are a great snack to be able to grab when you are on the go.


During our stay in Kraków there was an Easter market happening in the main square.  We tried a bunch of regional sausages and breads there, but by far our favourite snack were the grilled oscypki, a smoked sheep’s milk cheese made in the Tatra mountains, served hot with lingonberry jam. The oscypki are a regional specialty found year-round in Zakopane - a hard cheese with a salty flavor something like a cross between gouda and mozzarella, only smokier. They are usually pressed into lovely decorated moulds giving them a distinctive appearance though we also had them in strings which are sometimes braided or even pressed into animal shapes. The grilled version appears to be a fairly new invention which was particularly tasty given the cold weather we were experiencing.


Zapiekanki are like Polish French bread pizzas and are a very common late night street (drinking) food.  Our favorite and the most popular kind is topped with mushrooms, cheese, and ketchup, and sometimes with chopped leeks and chives. There are other varieties to be found also, such as the “Hawaiian” ham and cheese and pineapple, or salami, or the Greek with olives and feta, and other versions that include red bell peppers, sausage, yellow cheese, and pickles.

Bar Mleczny

Bar Mleczny are milk bars that spread around Poland back in the Communist era.  Subsidized by the government, Bar Mleczny were inexpensive cafeteria that serve Polish standards like barszcz and pierogi at extraordinarily low price.  Originally created to distribute excess milk products, they expanded to include standard regional dishes and have a reputation for being one of the better places outside of local “homes” to find traditional dumplings and pancake style dishes.

I gather Bar Mleczny can be hit-or-miss, with some being downright nasty and the service being notoriously bad, but the one we ate in a bunch of times was very good and the staff, while perhaps not friendly by Western “Hi, I’m Tammy and I’ll be your server this evening” standards, was courteous and friendly enough.  One day they even made a special batch of the kluski śląskie my wife had been asking about, which was pretty nice of them.

Privately I harbour the dream of someday opening a restaurant called Bar Mleczny here. It probably wouldn't last long without the subsidies and what with people's expectation of customer service, but... man, are they good.

I could go on and on but I'll spare you.  But one final thing worth knowing: Smacznego!  That is the Polish equivalent of “Bon appetit.”


Holly96Rose's picture

My Cinnamon Brown Sugar Babka

So today i made a Cinnamon Brown Sugar Babka. I am quite new to baking and i'm fairly certain i'm not taking the regular route a novice baker would. I've made a few loaves of regular bread, some Pita bread that was quite heavenly (along with some Pita chips), and now today a Babka. I'm thinking about a baguette or perhaps some bagels next. Anyway here are some pictures of this lovely piece of heaven! 

It was really cool getting the twist right on it. I should have rolled it out a little longer when it was still dough so i could add another twist but im pleased with the look. 

Some of it's gooey delicousness :)

If you'd like the recipe for it just let me know. This is my first attempt at making a babka so any feedback would be great! I realize it may not be the prettiest thing you've ever seen but i'm learning!

MaxQ's picture

Chocolate Babka

One of the things I like about this nice yeasty cake is its versatility. You can fill it with just about anything you can imagine: the lazy amongst us will just spread some berry jelly or apple-sauce, the more adventurous will chop apples, grind walnuts and start mincing cloves. And on top, well, just about anything you can think of. The most popular is a streusel, but I've seen chocolate chips, sprinkles and even whole plums. Me? I like the simple elegance of a chocolate filling and sugar water on top.

I'm not really sure about the origins of this recipe. I got a recipe from my mother who had gotten it from some cooking book. But it doesn't really matter, since I made drastic changes to the original recipe. I altered all of the amounts, and most of the ratios as well. There were some steps that I omitted entirely, and some that I added, and the bake time is about half of what the original recipe called for.

 Day 1


  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water.
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs yeast

Combine and let sit for 1 hour.


  • 2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup margarine
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream the margarine with the sugar. Add the sponge, salt, eggs and vanilla. Mix on low for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add flour until you get a good dough. Mix on medium for 10-12 minutes.
Remove dough, dust  with flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

Day 2

Take your dough out of the fridge, and let it rest for twenty minutes while preparing the filling.


  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup white sugar

Combine. I had to use my mixer on fast to get the margarine to blend nicely with the other ingredients.

Split the dough into two equal halves. Do the following for both halves.

Roll it out rectangle, about that big. It really depends on the size of your loaf pans. Then spread half the filling over the dough, leaving some edge. I keep trying not to leave any edge at all, but the filling is really hard to work with, and I give up.

Roll your dough up like a jelly-roll, from the short side.

Then twist it around in your hands a couple of times. You need to do this gently but firmly, since you don't want to tear the dough. Put it in a loaf pan and move on to the second piece of dough.

Let the cakes sit while you preheat the oven (350F/180C) and prepare the topping.


  • sugar
  • hot water

Mix the ingredients together until all the sugar is disolved, then brush it onto the cakes, covering the top and sides liberally.

Bake for 30 minutes, maybe less. The top of the cake should be hard. Baking it for too long will dry it out, but it's still good.

I took one of these to my parents' house for a family dinner one weekend, and got two of the best compliments a home baker can get:

  1. When I brought it in people asked  "You made that? I thought you had bought it!"
  2. It was devoured instantly. Everybody took seconds, and some people took thirds.

PDLarry's picture

One glorious loaf

Hokkaido Milk Toast, with Taro Paste stuffing...  Went in like this

Came out like this...

varda's picture

Boston TFL Meet Up Report - Link to Lexington Minuteman Article

Update:   A photographer and reporter from the local paper stopped by our meet-up.   Here is the link to the article.   In the print version we were the top front page story.  

On Saturday, we had our Boston Area TFL meet up.   Ten intrepid bakers plus family members broke bread together.   Lots of bread.   Lots of really amazing, delicious, and varied bread.    We all had a great time chatting, and each had a chance to describe their bread, show and tell, and so on.   Ian and I took a lot of pictures, so I'll let the pictures do the talking.   (Ian's are the wider ones.   I shrunk mine down.)

The scene

Kristen's Volkornbrot and Hotcross Buns,  Colin's scrumpy buns

Ian's guacamole loaf

Jong Yang's multi-seed sourdough

Mike's many breads

Barb's dinner rolls, Bill's bagels and baguettes

Varda's breads

Ian's corn feta

Barb's Jalapeno rolls

Kirsten's Volkornbrot

Kristijan's Levain

And not just bread:

Jong Yang's egg custard tarts

Mike's pastrami

Lisa's chocolate chip and raspberry bread

Kristijan's salt cod salad next to his Levain

And people too:

Bill, Ian, Kirsten

Vinni, Mike, Bob

Kristijan and Olga



Me and bread

Jong Yang speaking


Colin, Bill, Kirsten

And stuff:

Jong Yang's homemade brotform next to Bob's Olive Rosemary Levain, Kristijan's Levain behind

Another Jong Yang wooden brotform

Jong Yang's homemade on top of stone steamers

Some of us brought starters to trade and smell

What else?   Probably more updates later and hopefully other attendees will chime in.

rossnroller's picture

Lazy, simple and utterly delicious Easter Sunday lunch

Made a pain de campagne first thing, and had some slices for lunch with some of the best smoked salmon I've tasted.

Followed up with a cuppa and a serve of my partner's incredible (and lethally rich) Easter fruit cake, which she made back in November, and has been feeding fortnightly with brandy ever since. We've been away in Thailand for the last month, and she was a bit worried that not feeding it during that time might have resulted in some drying out, but those fears were groundless. Just superb. Unfortuneately, didn't take any pics of the cake. Will do so when we have some more in the coming days, and will post a pic or two.

For now, here's the bread and salmon component of our modest but oh-so-delectable Sunday lunch.


BTW, my starter roared back into baking readiness with one feed after sitting in the fridge neglected for the 4 weeks we were away. What a trooper!





Best to all!

AnnieT's picture

grain mill

Someone locally is selling a Mill and Mix Stone Grain Mill which they describe as solid loud and heavy. Does anyone here know anything about this mill? I can't seem to find any information on line but figure TFL is bound to be able to help, TIA, A.

JoeV's picture

Easter Breads

Dinner rolls...


Old fasion egg bread...


Cinnamon swirl egg bread...

Moya Gray's picture
Moya Gray

Wholewheat-rye Sourdough

Wholewheat-rye Sourdough


I've been learning and lurking on the site for about a year now and have learned so much from all of you!  Thank you!

Here are pictures of the latest bread I've made, a long fermentation wholewheat-rye sourdough.



Here is the crumb shot:

I'm really happy with this recipe which is as follows:

100 G whole wheat flour

100 G rye flour

200 G bread flour

100 G all purpose flour

105 G starter (100% hydration)

20 G salt

300 G water

I mixed and, rather than autolyse at this point, I tried some stretch & folds, but found it way too I wet my hands several times and it was easier to do the S&F (but it was more like kneading than the usual S&F with a higher hydration dough).  I continued the S&F for about 30+ minutes, covered it with tin foil and left it on the counter (72 degrees F) for 7.5 hours and went to sleep.  The next morning I then shaped the dough and let it rise for 45 minutes.  I baked it at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes with steam throughout the entire 20 minute period (cast iron pan with a towel and water).  The crumb is very moist, as if it had been a higher hydration dough, and rather sweet-nutty tasting.  I really like the flavor of this one!  Any suggestions for improving this?

greedybread's picture

Happy Greedybread Easter!!! Pizza di Pasqua!!

This bread of gorgeousness is from Rome....

Happy eating!! Errr easter:)

Pizza di Pasqua is common throughout parts of Italy, each region having their own special way of making Easter bread, often with different names.

I made this last year, I made it in August as I was too greedy to wait till Easter:)

It was delicious, I ate most of it myself...

 BUT I felt I could make it better as there were a few tweaks I felt it needed.

My errors, not the wonderful Carol Fields!!

I didn't like the tin I made it in either....

It is a very rich almost cake like recipe, very delicate once baked.

Similar in cakeyness to Panettone and Pandoro but this is definitely more delicate than the other two and I feel more cake like than bready.

NB: All these breads are very dangerous as all are exceptionally delicious .

Because they are not overly sweet breads yet light, they are easily eaten in VERY large quantities....

And I never feel guilty either...

A bit ashamed of quantities consumed though....

Anyhow enough blithering.....


 Buona Pasqua!

So what will you need?

You really need a mixer here……….some patience………

 2 rises with about 4-6 hours rising time….

Get the yeasty going...
Waiting, Waiting....
Almost batter like...

For the sponge:

4 tsps dried yeast

1/2 cup of warm water

1/2 cup strong bread flour

Stir the yeast into warm water and allow to get creamy/ frothy usually 10 minutes.

Mix in flour to yeasty mix and combine well.

Cover tightly with gladwrap and let rise for one hour.

It will be very foamy/ soupish and needs to have big bubbles in it.

Ready for Rising....
Sneaky Peek...

For The Dough:

4 cups of strong bread flour

pinch of salt

10 egg yolks

1 cup of castor sugar

1/2 cup of milk

zest of 2 lemons

Zest of 3 oranges

2 tsp vanilla

150 g butter softened to room temperature.

Going in the oven....

You really need to use mixer…..

I was mixing for about 2-4 minutes per ingredient unless specified.

Place dry ingredients in a bowl.

Grate zest over the dough so all the oils go into the dough.

Add milk and vanilla to the spongey mix and combine well.

Beat eggs and sugar in a bowl and then add to spongey mix.

Combine well and then add to dry mix forming a soft dough.

Add in butter, 2 tbsps at a time, mixing through each addition.

Beat at low-medium speed for 10 minutes with dough hook if not already using!

I did this in 2-3 goes as not to over use the mixer but my greedygirl is older:)

Dough will be very soft and elasticy.

Mine was like a thick batter but you could see the elasticity in it...

Make sure your molds are very well-greased!!


I placed my dough like batter into the mold and placed on a tray, covered in warm place.

Allow to rise for 3 hours or until dough is doubled in size.

30 minutes before rising finishes, preheat oven to 205 celsius.

I did not do this step below this time but you can if you wish....gently , gently....

Lightly brush top with egg white and sprinkle with raw sugar or full granulated sugar.

In NZ coffee sugar would be good.

Look at the crumb!!!
Gorgeous crust!!

Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Cover tops with tinfoil if too brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30-60 minutes before removing from tin and be very careful with it.

Set on rack to cool finally...

It is sooooooo nice warm but not the best to slice then:)

I will let you make that choice....

It would be divine with a lick of mascarpone whilst warm:) 

I toasted a piece in the oven the next day and had some ricotta on it....Heavenly!!

Don't forget to ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY!!

Happy Greedybread Easter!!!

Big Bite!!

Interested in a little more info on Pizza di Pasqua?

Check out Pizza di PasquaFlavia's Flavours or .......

My bread hero (and where the original recipe came from) Carol Fields book, "The Italian Baker  

And my prior post on Pizza di Pasqua.