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Posted September 2, 2013
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Peter Zeranski comes from a well-known name in Polish cuisine; h
Peter Zeranski comes from a well-known name in Polish cuisine; his mother, Alina Zeranska, wrote TheArt of Polish Cooking, still in print after more than 40 years and the first Polish cookbook I ever owned. Peter and Laura Zeranski's previous cookbook, Polish Classic Recipes, was a taste of home for anyone who grew up in a Polish household.
Polish Classic Desserts, the sequel to Polish Classic Recipes, provides a wealth of additional Polish baked goods: mazurkas, babkas, cookies, tortes and cakes, pastries and specialty desserts with very little overlap from the first cookbook, making it the perfect companion. Like the first book, it is accessible and a joy to cook from, illustrated with gorgeous full-color photos for each dish. Scattered throughout the book are traditional Polish papercuts Polish pottery and painted wooden Easter eggs.
Polish Classic Desserts enabled me to recreate the wonderful smells and tastes of babcia's kitchen. Fans of yeast breads will find much to rejoice in. Another discovery was the pineapple and walnut bars; I'd fallen in love with a similar version in Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters that used a combination of canned and dried pineapple, but the dried pineapple always seemed too sweet (and too hard). Here the combination of crushed pineapple and a lovely flaky dough make these the perfect breakfast (or anytime) treat.
Some of the stories behind the baked goods were especially poignant; I loved reading about how Peter's mother grew her own wedding bouquet and baked her own wedding cake (having never baked before); the staged photo of the finished cake very closely mirrored the photo of his mother's homemade wedding cake on the opposite page. There is also a papal cream cake dedicated to Pope John Paul II; his offhand reminiscence of a boyhood treat sparked a renewed interest in the kremowki (which is basically a napoleon).
Polish Classic Desserts offers nearly 50 recipes that will appeal to everyone; in addition to classic Polish yeast breads, cakes, and pastries, you'll find comforting bread puddings, elegant tortes, and a handful of adult beverages to round out the festive offerings. This is a beautiful tribute to the baking of our Polish grandmothers and deserves to be in your cookbook collection!
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