Baked in Montreal: Wawel
In this world of Tim Horton's and Cripsy Creme, I sometimes forget that I even like doughnuts. I remember them as heavy dough-bricks, deep-fried and sitting in my belly for hours, refusing to be digested. A couple of bites of Wawel's Polish doughnuts, called paczki, however, is enough to remind me that yes, I really do love doughnuts. But only if theyâ€™re done right, and Wawelâ€™s bakery has got it down.
These doughnuts are called paczki . Wawelâ€™s offer up three types of fillings â€“ the traditional prune, an apricot and a cream. My favourite is the prune, though apricot is a pretty wonderful second. These are smaller than your average doughnut, but only slightly. The dough itself is very light and airy, not at all dense like lots of doughnuts tend to be. Yes, theyâ€™re still deep-fried, but the oil tastes fresh and adds a dimension to the doughnut, rather than being there as an unfortunate side-effect of frying. A smooth glaze of dissolved icing sugar lightly sweetens the whole doughnut, while the burst of prune in the middle hits other parts of the tongue. The prune filling is a definite experience, and because these doughnuts are smaller, youâ€™re justified for eating two or three in one sitting.
Known primarily for paczki (they even run out as the day goes on, sometimes just one flavour, sometimes all three), Wawel can still keep up with all other types of bakeries. Their baba, a Polish coffee cake, is said to be superb, although I have to admit to not having tried any yet. From marble to chocolate to fruit, itâ€™s definitely next on my Wawel shopping list. They do have a lot of cakes and pastries to choose from, so whether itâ€™s ginger cake or rum cake, youâ€™ll find something. Strudel is another thing they do very well, and you can buy a whole slab of white chocolate-poppy-seed, or just a piece of the almond strudel for a snack.
In my everlasting search for the perfect cheesecake, I decided to give theirs a try. What a strange difference from what Iâ€™m used to! A thin layer of crust is topped with a thick layer of poppy seed, which is then topped with the cheesecake. Much drier and lighter than the average cheesecake, this one was not very sweet, with the poppy seed adding both to the texture and the taste. Not my type of cheesecake, but something to give to people who arenâ€™t fans of the more traditional version of the dessert.
Absolutely fantastic (more fantastic than the paczki, actually), are the rumballs. An thick, firm chocolate ganache completely covers the rumball, which is a rich cross between a truffle and cake that has been injected with an insane quality of delicious rum. Deep and dark flavours make this my new favourite dessert. At $5.50/6 rumballs, itâ€™s quite the deal.
Their self-acclaimed best bread is their sunflower rye bread, and it is quite good. None of their breads, from the cumin rye to the soy bread to the coriander bread, are made with sugar or fat, and thereâ€™s a great variety of bread to choose from.
Wawelâ€™s also doubles as a small Polish store, selling packs of soups, cookies, sauces and jellies from the country. With five bakeries open now all over the city, it really isnâ€™t difficult to get a paczki and rumball fix.
2543-A, rue Ontario Est
1413, rue Saint-Marc
5499, Sherbrooke West
7070, A Henri Julien (MarchÃ© Jean Talon)
514 279 8289
Boul. Newman 7401 #370 (LaSalle)