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Fafernuchy (cookies)

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Delicious simplicity of Kurpie

For those who have not tried fafernuchy before, their simple taste might be a surpise. However, in the times of the revival of high quality ingredients and unprocessed food, they might turn out to be a healthy tasty and original snack.

The name of these regional baked goods most probably comes from a German word „Pfefferkuchen”, denoting pepper pie. Traditional fafernuchy were baked in Kurpie and Mazury prior to Epiphany (ŚwiętoTrzech Króli). Cookies formed into balls, rectangles or rhombuses were kneaded with the addition of honey, pepper, carrot and grated parsnip. Sometimes, after baking, they were dipped in honey. Fafernuchy were customarily offered to carol singers (kolędnicy), and most of all to kids and guests, visiting a house at times of Christmas.

In Kurpiowszczyzna fafernuchy were also used in a popular game called “cetno i licho”. The game was played by two players. One of them would hide some cookies in a clenched palm, and the other would have to guess, if tere was an even number (cetno) or odd number (licho) of the cookies. If the guessing person would say „cetno”, and there was an odd number of cookies in the hand, then the fafernuchy would go to the opponent. If the answer was correct the guessing person would get them. This game could also be prophetic in character. An advantageous i.e. even result, might at the same time be the announciation of a prompt wedding, while an odd number would foretell remaining a spinster or a bachelor for a year to come.

The simplicity of the baked foods makes us suppose that they came into being in Kurpie out of poverty. The basic ingredient of fafernuchy is wheat or rye flour, to which milk is added (water – in poor version, cream – in a rich one), a bit of honey, grated carrot, which gives colouring and sweetness and a pinch of pepper. A simple recipe is followed by an even simplier baking procedure: knead the doug, form a cylinder, then cut into bars and bake. Fafernuchy are hard „on purpose” to be kept longer.

Nowadays some housewives use various improvements. They experiment by adding yeast or baking powder. But original fafernuchy are made without any cultivators.

Fafernuchy have already become a characteristic feature of Kurpie cuisine, since nowhere else would you find baked goods like these. They are often prepared as a treat for various events, like fairs or exhibitions. The best ones are homemade, varying from a housewife to a housewife. Bakeries in Kurpie have recently begun baking them.

In order to try fafernuchy you do not need to go to Kurpie – there are plenty of recipies for these delicious cookies in the Internet. We enjoyed the hospitality of Ms Elżbieta Prusaczyk, who demonstrated the baking process of fafernuchy in her agritourism farm. Ms Ela also prepares Rother regional dishes, also as part of workshops outside her farm.

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