Obwarzanek, the Krakowian bagel

Berlin, Martina Della Valle | 22 September 2015

Images and illustrations by Martina Della Valle per Essen A Taste magazine©

Obwarzanek! It’s the morning’s voice in Polland. The first food appearing at the sunrise around the cities, mainly sold by one-product peddlers. Obrwarzanek is a symbol. A flag, a trademark. In fact, it include salso several debite about its origins. Someone says that the real pretzel is the one from Cracovia, and only if it has got the “obwarzanek krakowski” brand, which has been recognized and released by European Union inside a supporting project for local market and products.
For underlining the competition and the tradition supremacy, there are several ricerche a now fundamental for the quality superiority of the Cracovia’s donut, better than the imitations produced by most of the local bakers and simply called Obwarzanek. This fact has created several questions, because the product can be called using its authentic name only if it respects some essential rules about both the ingredients and the making method. We also must say that the authenticity of the product is easily recognizable with few elements: the crunchy and smooth crust and the few-hours-lasting fragrance. Anyway, this kind of ring-and-spiral-shape bread, made of wheat flour, boiled and the baked, often sprinkled with sesams or poppy seeds, according to Law should be golden to light brown, weighs 80/120 gr per piece and has the inner crumbs light and quite humid.
The national proud for this salted donut has underlined the origin of the more famous “bagel”, as it is known in the Anglo-Saxon tradition, more swollen and softer. As we learnt from traditions and history, Polish people exported all around Europe and oversea. Official evidences about this bread have been found in real decrees since 1496, when king
Jan Olbracht established special selling rights for the bretzel, even if the legend places the bagel’s invention in 1683, by a Viennese baker man who did it for paying homage to Jan Sobieski, the Polish King who salved Austrians against the Turkish invasion. In that occasion that bread had been baked as a stirrup (beugal).

OBWARZANEK

Ingredients

560 g flour
225 ml water
20 g fresh yeast
2 spoons of treacle
1 teaspoon and 1/2 of salt
4 spoons of sugar
1 spoon of oil
not-refined salt, sesam or poppy seeds for decoration

How to do

Mix flour, sugar, salt and treacle inside a cup. Melt yeast with hot water. Add yeast to the cup’s ingredients and mix with a mixer for about 5-8 minutes, till the mixture won’t be smooth. Make a ball and oils it, keep it in rest for 40 minutes inside a pot, covered by a rag or wrapped.
Flour a flat surface, put the dough there and divide it in equal parts. Create many circles as the parts of dough. Turn each one for creating the perfect pretzel.
Warm the oven, 220° and contemporaneously boil a pot of water, where you’ll melt a spoon of honey. Boil each pretzel for about 30 seconds, paying attention and keep them out from the pot and laying them on a grill, so they can dry the exceeding water. Add salt and sesam, and bake for 20-25 minutes, till the crust won’t be smooth and golden.
Cool them down.

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