At Wawel’s a Donut is a Ponki

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Donuts. You either love them or leave them. Going by the success of Tim Hortons, donuts and hockey are national icons.

“The truly Canadian way to face the day is with a bag of Timbits and a double-double,” says Steve Penfold, in The Donut: A Canadian History.

A disclaimer: I do not love donuts. After the final bite, somehow there’s always a soapy aftertaste. Next time you bite into one, keep that in mind and you’ll see what I mean. Not a good thing. Then again, I do enjoy those first few bites of airy sweetness. And with a Tim Hortons at every other corner, donut cravings are hard to resist.

And when there is a popular fast food, there is sure to be a fancier version for foodies. Wawel Patisserie isn’t only the self-proclaimed top donut place, many Montrealers swear by these beignes. A family business that now boasts nine stores, Wawel’s was started in Montreal in 1984 by Peter Sowa, whose family roots and confectionery know-how originates from Poland. But even after trying what is considered one of Montreal’s best, I wasn’t satisfied. Which is too bad. I thought the Polish heritage would have added a touch of class.

Donuts are deep-fried. That’s what they’re all about. The original olykoek, or oily cake, was made with leftover dough and fried, hence dough-nut. Still, there is something about donuts that just sits in my stomach. As if they’re trying to instantly give you a spare tire.

A donut at Wawel is a ponki. A wee bit smaller than usual and glazed with a coating of melted sugar and a sprinkling of icing sugar, they look delectable. And Wawel’s donuts are fresh. By the end of the day, they are always sold out. The nicest thing about these donuts is that one doesn’t taste the oil. So what’s the problem?

With jelly donuts, one has to judge both the dough and the filling. The dough is good. Even very good. Fluffy texture to bite into, with a bit of substance but still light even though it is deep-fried. Which is a good thing because there is basically too much dough and not enough “nut” in a Wawel donut. It takes two big bites to get to the filling. And the filling: one bite and it’s gone! Not a good thing when you are known for your fillings to skimp on them.

The top three flavours at this time are vanilla, chocolate and plum.

The vanilla was the best, and usually I find vanilla a bit bland which says a lot about the other fillings.

The plum is supposed to be typically Polish. Eastern European pastries often have a powidl filling, a richly flavoured prune spread. Wawel’s plum filling was more fig-like. More sweet than flavour. Too bad.

And the chocolate? Tasted like it was out of a can from Provigo. Made me enjoy the fact that there was barely any.

At least there was no soapy aftertaste.

Categories: Dessert for supper


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