Known by many names, meaning dried twigs or brushwood, Chrust, Faworki or Angel Wings, these little, powdered sugar treats appear en masse in the last week of Carnival, just before Lent. Trays piled high with Faworki and Pączki fill the supermarkets and bakeries for Tłusty Czwartek or Fat Thursday.
Faworki are also very popular in areas of the U.S. with large populations from Central Europe. I live in New Jersey and the supermarkets here, not to speak of all the Polish delis, are selling them right now.
Even though Faworki are rolled in powdered sugar, the plain, rich dough, is only lightly sweet. Like many Polish recipes, the pastry is traditionally fried in lard. However, you can use oil, like I did. The dough requires extensive kneading, rolling, folding and re-rolling. I must admit, that I was a little lazy and didn’t knead it quite as long as required, but it still puffed nicely and formed blisters during frying.
Faworki, Chrust, Angel Wings
- 400g of plain wheat flour
- a pinch of salt
- 1tsp of baking powder
- 1 egg
- 5 yolks
- 1 tbsp of powdered sugar
- 6 – 7 tbsps of sour cream
- 1 tbsp of 95% proof alcohol, like Everclear or Golden Grain (you can substitute with distilled white vinegar)*
- 1.5 kg of lard or 2 l of oil
- powdered sugar for garnish
*The addition of alcohol or vinegar prevents the pastries from absorbing too much grease during frying.
Sift flour into a bowl, add salt and baking powder. In a second mixing bowl, beat egg and egg yolks with a spoon of powdered sugar until you have a thick, fluffy and slightly yellow mixture. This can take a while, about 8 – 10 minutes.
Pour the egg mixture to the flour, add sour cream and the alcohol. Combine the ingredients with a wooden spoon first, then knead until you have a smooth and elastic dough. Form a ball, wrap in clear food wrap and set aside for about 30 – 45 minutes at room temperature.
Knead the dough again for about 7 minutes (that’s the part when I got a little lazy). Roll it out, fold in half and roll out again, repeat 3 – 4 times. Rolling and folding makes the dough elastic and captures air in it.
Divide the dough into 4 parts. Roll out the first part into a very thin sheet (the thinner the better). Keep the rest of the dough wrapped in clear food wrap.
Using a knife or a pastry and ravioli cutter wheel, cut out strips (rectangles, cut off diagonally at the ends) smaller than the diameter of the pot they will be fried in. In the middle of each rectangle make an incision through which thread one end of the rectangle. Holding both ends gently shake to make the pastry fall into a nice shape. Set aside and keep covered with a clean kitchen towel until you have finished cutting out the rest of the Faworki.
Heat up the oil to 180°C in a wide pot and put 4 – 5 pastries at a time (they will puff quickly and form air blisters). Fry to a golden color, about 30 – 60 seconds on each side.
Place the pastries on paper towels. After cooling sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Faworki/Chrust/Angel Wings can be served with jams or marmalades.