Are you counting calories? Then it is better to avoid the cobbled streets of Poznan, where you will always be tempted by the rich aroma of freshly baked croissants.
The Polish delicacy has been granted EU ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ status and can only be prepared by certified bakers in the city.
They are also far from French croissants. The Poznan version is made from large curves of puff pastry, liberally dusted with nuts and filled with dried fruit, and can easily contain 1,200 calories, about 1,000 more than a traditional croissant.
Poznan is located halfway between Warsaw and Berlin and is full of beautifully preserved buildings. In the photo, the main square
The perfect place: the city’s famous croissants, “far from French croissants”
They are wonderfully sweet and can be both delicate and incredibly filling. I can only devour half of my first croissant before admitting defeat.
You can spot a nod to the origins of the crescents carved into an exterior wall of the 16th-century St. Martin’s Church in Poznan, which shows the saint riding a horse and cutting off part of his cloak to change to a cold beggar. and hungry.
Centuries ago, a local baker decided to honor this good deed by baking horseshoe-shaped croissants and distributing them to the poor. Others have followed suit, distributing them to the needy on St. Martin’s Day, which falls on November 11.
Today, the croissant is Poznan’s most popular pastry and is served all year round. This is the first time I taste the coffee at the Mercure Poznan Centrum hotel.
Bakers have been using the same recipe since the café opened in the 1960s, and a pastry chef who has worked there for 40 years invited me into the kitchen for a masterclass. It starts by crushing a ball of dough and proudly points out that there are 97 layers inside. Then he rolls the dough and cuts it into triangles. With almost surgical precision, he makes a series of tiny incisions in each to make sure the filling oozes through each layer. This is applied with a bag of frosting, injecting thick, crisp lines of a fragrant mixture of crushed poppy seeds, orange peel, walnuts, and almond essence with an egg used as a binder.
Then he folds the dough into crescents, lovingly replacing the pointed ends.
The sculpture of St Martin’s Church which inspired the pastry shop
If that sounds simple, I can assure you it is not.
And the topping mixture is incredibly thick – when I’m handed the bag of frosting, it takes a good few minutes to squeeze out a single unappealing spoonful.
As I leave, I walk past the cafe’s chef, Grzegorze Dziamski, who has just taken delivery of two tonnes of locally grown organic poppy seeds in the run-up to November 11, which is also Polish Independence Day. His passion for pastry is obvious and he knows he has to produce the best. “At this time of year, people shop at several different bakeries so they can pick their favorite for the holidays,” he says.
Poznan is home to not one but two castles. In the photo, the impressive imperial castle
The city even has a Crescent Museum where more hands-on lessons take place and where experts will explain the ingredients and traditions of the dish in more detail.
Poznan bakers also make wonderful bread. My favorite is the small bakery Czary Chleb, created by a former publisher who loves high-quality ingredients and old-fashioned baking methods. It’s in what’s called the Cosmonauts Quarter, where you’ll also find a park with a huge statue dedicated to the first man in space, the Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin.
There is, of course, more to this thousand-year-old Polish city than pastries, bread and pastry.
The Old Brewery has been transformed into a shopping and arts center
Located halfway between Warsaw and Berlin, it is full of beautifully preserved buildings and is quickly becoming a magnet for people looking for an arty, gourmet and trendy mini-break.
Head to the town square to see the sidewalk cafes, street performers, and rows of colorful, almost fluorescent fish vendor houses. These were built in the 1500s, were carefully restored after WWII, and now provide the perfect backdrop for eye-catching photos.
There’s a museum inside the town’s Renaissance-style town hall, or just join the crowds outside every day at noon – that’s when the wooden doors above his clock open and two very happy mechanical goats come out and shake their heads 12 times.
The nearby Old Brasserie is also worth a detour, with its vaults and halls transformed into a commercial and artistic center. Stroll further into the compact heart of the city and you can visit its two castles, enjoy cozy breweries, and in summer join the crowds at music festivals or on the bustling urban beach on the banks of the Warta River .
But whatever the season, these croissants from St Martin will revive even the most exhausted travelers.