CELEBRATING A TRADITIONAL POLISH EASTER
Celebrating a traditional Polish Easter was the highlight of Spring for me as a child. Perhaps a new Easter dress, a white straw purse with a yellow daisy and patent leather shoes…
I grew up in a little town in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where we Polish-Catholic families outnumbered pretty much everyone else. That’s not saying much, because “everyone else” mainly consisted of Irish and Italian Catholics, with an occasional Greek Orthodox thrown into the mix.
My childhood was rich in exposure to my Polish heritage, as we lived next door to my paternal grandparents and great-grandmother, BABCIA, in Polish. I also had numerous Great-Aunts and Uncles living in town. It made for lively family meals and lots of games of Pinocle. (card game) My family were card sharks, for sure! All of the children learned to play at an early age too!
Of course, these are all memories as recalled through the eyes of a child. And that child moved from the area at 14 years of age. So you’ll need to take them with a grain of salt! But that’s exactly how I remember my birthplace.
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TAKING YOUR EASTER FOOD BASKET TO BE BLESSED
After the strict fasting of Lent, celebrating a traditional Polish Easter means readying for the annual feast.
In Poland, Good Friday evening is for coloring and decorating hard-cooked eggs with traditional Polish designs.
On Easter Saturday, święconka baskets are filled with salt, hard-cooked eggs, butter, sausage, ham, bread, babka, and other foods to be eaten on Easter.
BUT, IN MY LITTLE TOWN …
On Holy Thursday, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my many first cousins to help celebrate the holiday.
We were quite the gaggle of kids, all looking forward to plenty of playing, eating and enjoying our Easter basket booty.
Our family usually colored our eggs on Good Friday morning, so we would be ready for the Stations of the Cross at our parish in the afternoon. The Stations of the Cross are a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man.
It was a very solemn Easter activity, especially for me, as I attended Catholic School and was taught by nuns. They instilled a deep reverence for religion in me that has lasted a lifetime.
CELEBRATING A TRADITIONAL POLISH EASTER
Bright and early on Easter Saturday, my siblings, cousins and I would walk the three blocks to our Polish-Catholic Church. There would always be 2-3 święconka baskets to take to be blessed in the basement where I attended CCD classes on Sunday mornings.
Long tables would be set up to place our baskets in anticipation of our priest, dressed in his purple Easter vestments, entering the room.
He would slowly walk past the tables, dipping his aspergil (sprinkler) into a silver bucket of holy water and dousing our baskets as he recited prayers.
My grandmother was particularly concerned with her salt shaker getting “hit” with the holy water, so we would position the baskets accordingly. You didn’t want to mess with her!
On Easter morning, the feasting begins with a breakfast taste of everything in the basket. And that was just fine with me!
THE “NO-NAME” EASTER GAME MY FAMILY PLAYED
Our family played a game with our colored eggs before we started eating our Easter morning repast. It didn’t even have a name, so I’m not going to try to give it one.
The object of the game was to be the only person at the table with an egg that had at least “one un-cracked end”.
The only rule was that it had to be decided who would actually “hit” the other person’s egg. You couldn’t both smash your eggs into each other. I guess we were being “civilized” about it!
Once every person had a “crack” at each other’s eggs, you would start the second round with the eggs that still were in the running. The game seldom went longer than 2 rounds, with some eggs dropping out to be eaten before a winner was actually declared.
That was the only other “rule” to this game, you had to eat your “contestant” after the game was done!
MAKOWIEC – POLISH HOLIDAY POPPYSEED ROLL, a holiday staple
Makowiec (pronounced: Mak-ov-yetz) is a strudel-like, yeast poppy seed cake that’s one of Poland’s most popular desserts. It’s main attraction is the filling rolled between light layers of yeasty sweet dough. Inside, it’s stuffed with finely-ground poppy seeds, honey, butter, raisins and walnuts.
When made right, the cake is absolutely delicious. It’s safe to say that many a poppy-seed cake lover would agree that the more the filling, the better.
And that really depends on your family’s recipe. Everyone tweaks the recipe just a bit, to make it there very own. But whatever amount of poppy seed filling, Makowiec is one of the most traditional foods in Poland, and is a must-have during Easter and Christmas.
In our family, my Babcia also made a nut version of this sweet roll, stuffed with a sweet walnut filling.
Both versions are just fabulous when slathered with fresh sweet butter formed into adorable “Butter Lambs” for the Easter Dinner table. (I’ll show you how to make these a little later in this post.)
EASY-TO-HANDLE YEAST DOUGH KEEPS THIS RECIPE SIMPLE
I can honestly say that this is one of the easiest yeast dough recipes to make in my repertoire. Through the years I’ve experienced plenty of “failures” testing different types of yeast dough recipes, but this is not one of them.
Once you decide that a “raised dough” isn’t going to intimidate you, the process is quite simple. And this dough isn’t fussy at all. In fact, you really just dump all the ingredients together once you’ve given the yeast time to “bloom”. Making the filling during a portion of the “rising” time, keeps the recipe’s progress moving.
The really nice thing about this recipe is that it can easily be doubled or tripled if desired. In fact, my recipe is for 6 rolls, but I didn’t want to freak you out! If you’ve never made Polish Holiday Poppyseed Roll before, working with a single batch of sweet dough is the best place to start.
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 tsp. sugar
- 2 pkg. yeast
- 4 cups AP flour
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 10 oz. poppy seeds, soaked for 4 hrs. after pouring boiling water over poppyseeds
- 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tsp. butter, room temperature
- 2 egg whites, unbeaten
- 4 Tbs. honey
- 2 tsp. orange juice concentrate
- 1 cup raisins. plumped in hot water for 10 minutes
- 1/2 tsp. almond extract
- 2 tsp. orange zest
- 1 whole egg
- 1 Tbs. vegetable or canola oil
1. Heat milk to 110 degrees F (use candy thermometer) and pour into a large bowl.
2. Stir in the sugar, and yeast and let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Add the flour, salt, egg yolks, butter and vanilla to the milk mixture. Stirring and then hand-kneading the flour into a rough dough.
4. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until doubled in size. (approx. 1 1/2 hours)
5. While dough is rising, drain the poppyseeds, using a cheesecloth-lined colander. Grind the seeds (spice grinder, clean coffee grinder, meat grinder, food processor) into a rough paste and put in a medium bowl.
6. In a food processor, process the plumped raisins by pulsing several times. Add to the poppyseeds.
6. Add sugar, butter, egg whites, honey, orange juice concentrate, almond extract and orange zest to the poppyseeds and raisin mixture. Stir well to combine filling ingredients. Cover and let sit at room temperature until ready to assemble rolls.
7. When dough has fully risen, punch it down, and divide in half. Roll each piece in to 14" x 10" rectangle.
8. Spread half the filling onto each rectangle, leaving a 1" border around the edges. Roll up the long side, pinching to seal the ends, then tucking them underneath the rolls.
9. Place the rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, seam side down. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a draft-free location for 40 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Beat egg with oil and brush tops of rolls.
11. Bake on center rack of the oven for 35 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
Nutrition InformationYield 16 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 346Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 9gCholesterol 57mgSodium 330mgCarbohydrates 49gFiber 5gSugar 18gProtein 9g
EASTER CELEBRATION “SWIRLY” DECORATIONS – Free PDF Printable
This is a great Easter entertaining idea for you to try!
What would an Easter Celebration be without some adorable party decorations? I’ve created some colorful Spring “swirlies” to “hang around” your party this year.
You’ll want to print the decorations on nice card stock, glossy or matte, it’s your choice. Choose some pretty colored construction paper for the “swirly”, and you’ve got some really simple, quick and cute Easter party decorations.
Just download the FREE PDF, print, cut out and you’re in business.
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“24 HOUR” FRUIT SALAD RECIPE (that’s what our family calls it!)
Fruit salads are a holiday staple for Poles. Whether it has a creamy dressing or not, you’re likely to see some version of it on most Polish family holiday tables.
As with many Polish holiday traditions, most families have their own recipe for fruit salad that is on their annual menus. I have no idea of the origins of this recipe, but my older sister doesn’t think it’s Christmas without it!
I’ve renamed the recipe for publication, as I felt our family’s moniker might be a little intimidating for the gals on Pinterest!
However, you do need to make this recipe a full day before serving it, because… I actually have no idea. I just know that it turns out perfect after 24 hours refrigeration. I think that’s a good enough reason, don’t you?
The dressing of our family recipe uses a whipped cream base that’s actually started by “cooking” it. You begin by combining sugar, lemon juice and an egg yolk in a small saucepan and cooking it until it thickens.
That’s the “secret ingredient” to this recipe! It sounds like it gets too involved, but this step takes only 5 minutes, BUT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE.
Now you do, of course, still have to whip the heavy cream in a chilled bowl, with chilled beaters, but so what! That only takes about 5 minutes too.
So, now you’ve invested a WHOLE 10 MINUTES! See, it’s really a breeze to pull together in a half-hour’s time, and that includes draining the canned fruits.
I hope you’ll give one of my favorite family recipes a try this Easter. Here’s a little gift from my family’s recipe box!
- 15 oz can pineapple chunks, drained
- 1 can mandarin orange segments, drained
- 1 cup grapes, halved
- 1 cup mini-marshmallows
- 1/2 cup Maraschino cherries, drained
- 1 .large Granny Smith apple, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 banana (leave whole and unpeeled until just before serving salad)
- DRESSING: (CHILL MIXING BOWL AND BEATERS BEFORE STARTING RECIPE)
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- 1 large egg yolk, slightly beaten
- 1 cup heavy cream
- Combine fruits (except banana) and marshmallows in a large bowl, cover and chill.
- In a small saucepan, combine yolk, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. (3-4 minutes) Cool.
- Whip heavy cream in a chilled mixing bowl, with chilled beaters, until it forms soft peaks.
- Gently fold cooled yolk mixture into whipped cream until incorporated. Gently fold whipped cream dressing into chilled, drained fruit mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Just before serving, peel and cut banana and stir into fruit salad. Stir salad gently before serving.
Despite this salad coming out perfect after 24 hours refrigeration, the dressing will start to get watery within 48 hours of assembly.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 168Total Fat 8gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 53mgSodium 17mgCarbohydrates 24gFiber 2gSugar 19gProtein 2g
IT ISN’T EASTER WITHOUT PICKLED EGGS AND BEETS!
Celebrating a traditional Polish Easter without Pickled Eggs and Beets would be sacrilege!
This is another traditional Polish holiday food with a simple straight-forward recipe. But, you’ll always find a few subtle variations from family to family. For instance, our family recipe contains whole cloves and peppercorns.
You never know what Babcia would decide to do to distinguish her Pickled Eggs and Beets from her BFF’s recipe. The competition must have been fierce, but probably unspoken!
My Mom and I are a big fan of having Pickled Eggs and Beets for breakfast, every day after Easter.
With just the right combination of egg, beets and onions cut up on a plate, then drizzled with some of the pickling juice, it makes for a lovely post-holiday morning repast.
Once you’ve hard-cooked and peeled the number of eggs you want to pickle, this recipe comes together in a matter of minutes.
What’s really neat is that as you take eggs out of the container, you can add some new eggs to be pickled. Just make sure you let them pickle for at least 48 hours before eating them.
If you’ve never actually made Pickled Eggs and Beets, maybe this year is the time to celebrate Easter with a little “Polish” attitude! Why not make it one of your Easter entertaining ideas for your family celebration?
- 12 large hard cooked eggs, peeled
- 2 cans whole or sliced beets, drained, liquid reserved in measuring cup
- 1 large Vidalia onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp. whole cloves
- 1 tsp. whole peppercorns
- Layer the beets, eggs and onion rings in a large glass jar.
- In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water, vinegar and 1 1/4 cups of the reserved beet juice to a low simmer, stirring to help sugar dissolve. Add whole cloves and peppercorns and simmer for 1 minute.
- Remove pan from heat and pour pickling liquid over eggs, beets and onions; cool.
- Cover tightly and refrigerate at least 48 hours before serving. Eggs can be kept in pickling liquid for up to 5 days.
Nutrition InformationYield 12 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 154Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 186mgSodium 82mgCarbohydrates 20gFiber 1gSugar 19gProtein 7g
EASY HOMEMADE MOLDED SWEET BUTTER LAMBS
Celebrating a traditional Polish Easter wouldn’t be the same without a Sweet Butter Molded Lamb on the Easter dinner table.
HOW TO MAKE SWEET CREAM BUTTER – It’s a whole new taste experience!
START WITH 2 CUPS HEAVY CREAM – not ultra-pasturized please! (If you want salted butter, add it in stage 1)
- Place cream into the bowl of a food processor/KitchenAid/high-powered blender fitted with the steel blade. Whip the cream until the pure butterfat separates from the milky whey, 4 to 7 minutes. (this will take longer if not using a food processor).
- You’ll know it’s finished when the mixture sounds slushy as the liquid splashes against the sides of the bowl. When you stop the machine, the butter will be a separate mass surrounded by a shallow pool of milky liquid.
- Pour this mixture into a fine-mesh colander and shake until most of the liquid has drained out.
- Fold a clean, cotton or linen kitchen towel in half and dump the butter onto the center. Gather the ends of the towel and firmly squeeze to remove any excess buttermilk. (make sure all the liquid has been removed from butter)
HOW TO STORE YOUR FRESH SWEET BUTTER – Celebrating a Traditional Polish Easter
Transfer butter to an attractive 1-cup crock or ramekin. You’ll probably need to pat off any remaining beads of liquid. Brush the top with a decorative comb or the tines of a fork and, if desired, sprinkle the top lightly with Kosher or sea salt. Either use the butter immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Or, you can make a butter log:
- Use a piece of parchment paper, wax paper will work in a pinch.
- Place the compound butter on the parchment paper.
- Fold over the parchment and slide your hand to spread the butter out. It naturally forms a tube.
- Pop it into the refrigerator, allow it to chill completely and slice.
- Add chopped herbs if desired!
Or, you can make a molded Easter Lamb:
- Using a plastic or metal butter mold, fill each half with softened butter by pushing the butter into the mold with a rubber spatula. Push butter into the small areas and finish by using a spoon to push any air pockets out of the mold.
- Lightly “drop” the mold on the kitchen counter a few times to help it settle. If it appears that the mold is no longer completely full, add additional butter.
- Refrigerate mold until butter has completely hardened. Remove halves from mold and fit together. Pull the flat edge of a butter knife over the seams to clean them up.
- Then, using a clean finger, use the warmth of your finger to “seal” the seams of the two halves. You’ll be amazed at how well this works! Alternatively, warm the butter knife under hot water and it works too!
AND IF YOU WANT TO GO “FREESTYLE”, CHECK OUT THIS VIDEO!
AND THAT’S CELEBRATING A TRADITIONAL POLISH EASTER – MY WAY!
WANT MORE EASTER ENTERTAINING IDEAS AND RECIPES?
Check out what else is happening this Easter at Ingredients For A Fabulous Life!
- Matching Set of Easter Celebration PRINTABLES – Easter Invitation / Guest Place Cards / Napkin Rings
- Roasted Strawberry Banana Buttermilk Sherbet
- Pretty in Pink Raspberry Petit Fours
- Individual Spring Vegetable Lasagna
- 6 pc. Easter Egg Hunt Sign Set of Free PRINTABLES
- Easter Party Favors
Click here to read the posts now: Easter Dinner Recipes + Printable Invites-Place Cards-Napkin Rings
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