My maternal grandmother, Apolonia (Pauline) Bobrowski Urynowicz, came to the United States in July of 1907, just like Aniela. In fact, she’s the inspiration for Aniela, and thus for my entire book, which is a composite novel.  In a way, I’m writing it in her memory, even though the book itself is fictional.

A composite novel is generally comprised of a series of interrelated short texts that may or may not be limited to short stories. In my case, the book will also contain other texts, including a few of her recipes.  I can think of no better way to keep her memory alive.

One of my favorites has always been her recipe for what my mom always just called crullers. In Poland, depending on the region, they’re called faworki, chrusty, or chrusciki, and in the United States, they’re generally known as bow ties or angel wings.

But my grandmother called them chrusti (with an i), so to me, chrusti they are. It’s pronounced HROO-stee. (The singular, chrust, is pronounced HROOST.) They look like this:

(I wasn’t able to find any pictures of my own, so these will have to do).

I’ve seen many, many recipes for these, both online and in hard-copy Polish cookbooks, but although the final product looks the same, none of the recipes is the same as my grandma’s. I have no idea what quality the results of any of those others might produce, either, but no matter what they look like, I’m very sure they can’t possibly taste any better than hers.

Here’s a picture of my grandma’s much-loved and well-worn recipe, which I wrote down in haste while actually making them with her in the winter of 1976, the year before she passed away:


As far as I know, it’s the only written-down version of her recipe in existence.

And that’s the thing, right? One of the primary purposes of the whole novel, even though it is a novel and not a memoir, is to draw attention to the way memories form, the way we hold our ancestors close though whatever historical connections we can find.  Not just me, but all of us.  And one of those is always, or should always be, the ritualistic preparation of traditional foods.

So here, in the spirit of keeping her memory alive, is my grandma’s recipe in full. If you choose to make it a part of your own family’s tradition, I ask only that you keep her name attached to it.

Grandma Pauline’s Chrusti


1 cup milk

½ stick (1/4 cup) butter

6 egg yolks

½ cup sugar

pinch salt

2 T vodka or rum (vodka is traditional—we use rum)

3 cups flour

confectioner’s (powdered) sugar

oil for deep frying



Warm milk and butter just until bubbles form around the edge of the pan (do not allow to boil). Remove from the heat and allow to cool until the pan is comfortably warm to the touch.

While milk is cooling, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until thick and lemon yellow. Stir in liquor of choice.

Add half of the warm milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture in a steady stream, stirring constantly.

Mix in half of the flour, then the rest of the milk, then the rest of the flour.

Knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. (A little additional flour may be necessary, but don’t add too much.)

Roll out the dough very thin, about 1/8 of an inch thick, on a floured board. Use a pizza wheel to slice the dough into strips about 3” long by 1 ½ inches wide (measurements do not have to be exact).

Make an inch-long (or so) slit lengthwise in the center of each piece, and pull one end through the slit.

Deep fry, a few at a time, in hot oil (375 degrees). Drain on paper towels. Sift powdered sugar over them, or shake a few at a time in a paper bag of powdered sugar, while still warm.

These get stale very, very quickly. Best to make them when you have a lot of people around.

Makes around eight dozen.

Great with coffee or tea.