Snapshots from Poland: Paczki from A. Blikle in Warsaw
At A. Blikle, the storied bakery located on the historic Nowy Swiat boulevard in Warsaw, you'll find dazzling desserts like Napoleons and sernik krakowski (a rich Polish cheesecake from Krakow) stretched out before you on a marble counter. The decor of dark hardwood, gold finishes, and mirrored walls transports you back to 1869—the year it opened. Most of all, A. Blikle is synonymous with pączki, or Polish doughnuts, though their specialty is curiously hidden on a shelf in the back.
Modest in size compared to the other pączki I ate in Poland, this version's liberal glaze creates a gratifying crackle as you bite into it. The yeasty, golden dough surrenders to a bracingly tart rose petal jam, the traditional filling. The dough was a bit dry, but its understated sweetness blended beautifully with the sour jam and sugary coating. Instead of simply adding citrus flavoring or zest to the dough, A. Blikle wins points for sprinkling their pączki with real candied orange peel that gently perfumes the entire doughnut. The result is a perfect harmony with the floral notes of the jam. I can't say with complete confidence that A. Blikle makes the best doughnuts in Poland, but they're certainly the most balanced.
Best of all, each pączek is modest in size, so you can eat more than one. You can buy doughnuts to go or pay a bit extra to eat them at one of their cafe tables. One or two pączki with a cup of coffee or tea is the perfect refuge from the steely Warsaw weather.
About the author: Meredith Bethune is a writer who of course likes feeling hip and cool at the latest trendy restaurant, but she feels most comfortable tracking down the best tacos, pizza, and barbecue. She currently lives in Austin. Follow her on Twitter (@MeredithBethune).