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Worldwide Gastronomy Habits & Trends

Rough Polish chrusty, French bugnes or American angel wings: the Carnival pastry under different names

ByDominika Margolt

Jan 4, 2023

Angel wings are a traditional sweet crisp pastries made from dough that has been shaped into thin twisted ribbons, which are deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Angel wings are popular in a number of European cuisines, and they have been incorporated into other regional cuisines, such as American, by immigrant populations.

The most typical time to eat them is the period just before Lent, during Carnival and on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday before Lent. Do not to be confuse it with “Fat Tuesday” (Mardi Gras), the day before the start of Lent known as Ash Wednesday. In some countries, there is a tradition that husbands give angel wings to their wives on Friday the 13th in order to avoid bad luck.

Ingredients used for the preparation of angel wings include flour, water, egg yolk, confectioners’ sugar, rectified spirit or rum, vanilla and salt.

Popularity by country

Bulgaria

In Bulgaria, angel wings are called kukurini, and are only encountered in Bansko, the south-eastern region of Bulgaria. They are typically sprinkled with powdered sugar, which actually makes them no different from the variants from other countries..

Croatia

The Croatian variant of this pastry is called kroštule, being a traditional dessert from Dalmatia and Istria. It is made by deep frying dough.

France

In France, the fried dessert is popular in central-eastern France, including Lyon and Saint-Étienne, and is closely related to beignets. Traditionally, cold meat shops in Lyin sold bugnes just before Lent, due to their significant amounts of fat. They were frequently made at home as a way of using surplus cooking fat, which would be wasted during the Lent. More recently, bakeries prepare them, respecting more or less the tradition of the Lent.

French bugnes varieties include both crunchy and soft bugnes. The crunchy variety, known as bugnes lyonnaises (Lyon bugnes), are fried in very hot oil with the dough spread out thinly and knotted once or twice. The soft variety of the pastry, sometimes called pillows, are made with thicker dough, which usually isn’t knotted.

Hungary

Hungarian csöröge are made from egg yolk, flour, a leavening agent, sugar, salt and cognac or brandy. They are deep-fried (again) and sprinkled with powdered sugar (again). Surprisingly different from the varieties from other countries. In Hungary they frequently prepare them for weddings.

Italy

Italian chiacchiere are typically eaten at Carnival time. Their various regional names include frappe, which is a name shared with similar treats, and they are prepared in Rome and Lazio; sfrappole in Emilia Romagna; bugie in Genoa and Piedmont; and galani or crostoli in Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. Many other regional names exist, such as fritte. Apparently, Italians were very creative when it comes to naming this pastry. Regional variations in the recipe include sprinkling with orange or lemon zest, or using anisette wine as the alcoholic base. It is very common homemade dessert. Their common companion on the Italian table is a dessert called castagnole.

Lithuania

Žagarėliai are the equivalents of angel wings in Lithuania, and its name translated literally into English means “small sticks”. Lithuanian variant is a delicate dough cookie, deep fried in fat, frequently with the use of lard.

Skruzdėlynas, which translates as “anthill” in English, is a big dessert in the form of a hill and is created of layers of fried dough strips, covered in honey and topped with poppy seeds. This traditional dessert is served during various Lithuanian family celebrations.

Poland

Faworki or chrusty (the Polish also couldn’t decide to simply choose one name) are another variant of the angel wings. The word faworki was the name reserved for colourful ribbons attached to either female or male clothing, especially ribbons given to knights by their ladies in medieval times. Etymologically the word faworki came to Poland from the French word faveur, which means ‘grace’ or ‘favour’. Interestingly, the Polish word chrust means ‘dry branches broken off trees’ or ‘brushwood’, which is not as eloquent as the term derived from the French language.

Ukraine

Verhuny are sweet cookies, fried in lard in the the form of oblong strips. The Ukrainian variant is made with non-yeast dough, which includes flour, butter, eggs, sugar, with the addition of alcohol, such as rum, brandy or horilka. In extreme cases is vinegar, or vinegar alongside alcohol. As substitute for butter, but more often as an additional component, the Ukrainians use milk products, such as milk, smetana i.e. sour cream, or cream. Traditionally, the only fat used for frying the Ukrainian verhuny should be lard.

The United States

In the United States, many ethnic bakeries in the cities of Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, and Detroit prepare angel wings. As opposed to European countries, where the pastry is mostly common during the Carnival and Lent, in the US, they are especially popular during the holidays of Easter and Christmas. At that time, some bakeries require people to pre-order their angel wings.

Recipe for the Polish chrusty:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
  • 3 eggs yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 4 tablespoons of sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon of some spirit (Soplica can be used)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • lard for frying
  • confectioner’s sugar for decoration

Instructions:

  1. First combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a seperate bowl, combine the egg yolks, sour cream, spirit, vanilla, and lemon zest.
  2. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until the dough comes together. Afterwards, roll out the mixture to make it as thin as possible.
  3. Cut it into 1×4 inch strips and cut a slit in the middle of each strip. Pull one end through the slit, to create a twisted ribbon.
  4. Heat lard to 350 °F and fry in batches, turning to cook both sides, until chrusty become golden brown.
  5. Drain all chrusty on paper towels and at the end sprinkle with the confectioner’s sugar.