Mardi Gras

Light & Delicate Fritters for Polish Fat Thursday, Aka Doughnut Day

February  7, 2018

In many parts of the world, the month of February is often associated with carnival season, a time when people celebrate ahead of Lent, a time known for excess and extravagance. Rich, fatty foods reign, before they go into hiding during the somber period that precedes Easter Sunday.

The feasting season, historically known as Shrovetide, is given different names in different countries. The two most popular days of carnival season are Fat Thursday, which is the last Thursday before Lent, and Fat Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, just shy of Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras, for example, is French for Fat Tuesday. In the U.K., the day is known as Shrove Tuesday, but it is also called Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day. The Italians mark both Fat Thursday or Giovedí Grasso, as well as Fat Tuesday, Martedì Grasso. In other words, if you’re into double-feasting, certainly consider visiting Italy next February.

Looks complicated, but you got this. Photo by Julia Gartland

Or try Poland, where my ancestral heritage is anchored. There, we have Tłusty Czwartek (which means, you guessed it, Fat Thursday); it's also known as Doughnut Day, since we Poles love to eat pączki (doughnuts!). In addition to yolky-rich doughnuts filled with plum or rose jam, we make and devour these pretty little pastry twists called angel wings (faworki).

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Angel wings are perfect for using up the fat and other ingredients that are traditionally avoided during Lent (sugar and vodka, for example). They are relatively easy to make, although you need to build in a little time for resting the dough, kneading it, and then frying the angel wings in small batches. The dough is not terribly tricky to work with, and some cooks even take the opportunity of bashing the dough with a rolling pin, which is said to help remove the excess air.

Make a 1-inch slit down the middle of each strip with a knife. Taking one piece of dough at a time, pull one end of the dough through the slit you have made in the center. Photo by Julia Gartland

Comparable to bigger, slightly softer, sweeter wonton strips, showered with powdered sugar, angel wings are also referred to as chruściki or chrusty. In addition to angel wings, the word faworki also refers to the colorful ribbons you'll spot on traditional blouses, and chruściki refers to the dried branches of trees. Pick your preferred name and give making these crunchy, addictive treats a whirl.

Have you tasted or made angel wings before? Tell us all about it in the comments!

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Ren is the author of Wild Honey and Rye: Modern Polish Recipes, Pavilion Books UK (out now) Interlink Books USA March 2018 (available for pre-order).


Danuta G. February 11, 2018
One of my fondest memories growing up was the different names that food was called depending on what region of Poland you came from. My father came from Warsaw, my mother was from Lwow, and invariably there was an "argument" every night at the dinner table about what was being served. Dad would say "sznycle", Mama would correct him, "kotlet!" Same for chrusty! Since Mama made them, he always conceded they were chrusty....although he would then whisper to me, "faworki!" Whatever...they were my favourites! I haven't made them in so long...thanks for posting...I will be making them tomorrow!
Elizabeth A. February 10, 2018
Gosh that looks AMAZING! They don't sound too difficult to make either - I must make some!
Heidi R. February 9, 2018
These little pastries are so light, crunchy and tasty. Great with coffee!
Camilla H. February 9, 2018
I do love traditional recipes from around the world and hadn't heard of Polish Fat Day (love the name)! Angel Wings sound and look like a delicious treat and great for kids to help making:-)