They are often sold from large baskets next to the vigils and wreaths and alongside baskets of obwarzanki even though these bagel-like breads are a specialty of Kraków.
People have been eating pańska skórka at least since the early 1900s when it was known as the Maiden's Skin or Crust because the smoothness of the candy was reminiscent of the skin of a young woman. Not only was it a treat, it was dispensed as a remedy for coughs. Later, the name was changed to the Lord's Crusts or skin because they were eaten primarily around the religious holidays of Nov. 1 and 2.
In Poland the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives. Beginning on Nov. 1 and throughout the following week, cemeteries are filled with people, flowers, and thousands of candles. These special candles can burn anywhere from 24 hours to a week, depending on their size. At night, during the week following All Saints' Day, they give the cemeteries of Poland a glow that can be seen from many miles away.
In Kraków similar candies can be found but they are called miodek turecki (Turkish honey) and, unlike pańska skórka, they contain nuts.
On Jan. 30, 2008, the Lord's Crusts were included on the List of Traditional Polish Products by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
As you can imagine, recipes for this Polish treat vary from cook to cook. Some use gelatin and others do not. This recipe does not contain gelatin.
Here is a larger photo of Pańska Skórka. For a little visual help with technique, check out these step-by-step instructions for making nougat from Elizabeth LaBau, About.com's Guide to Candy. But, of course, use the panska skorka ingredients (no nuts) and instructions. This is just for a little additional help.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Must refrigerate: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes
Yield: 15 pieces of Pańska Skórka
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon pink food coloring
- In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add sugar, water and honey. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Then stop stirring and use a wet pastry brush to wash down the sides of the saucepan to prevent crystallization of the sugar. Insert a candy thermometer and, without stirring, let the mixture come to the hard-crack stage of 310 degrees. Immediately remove from the heat to a cooler spot on the stove. Let it cool 2 minutes before adding to the egg whites.
- While the sugar is cooking and when it reaches 252 degrees, begin whipping the egg whites with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer or stand mixer. Whip to the soft peak stage and then switch to the sturdier paddle attachment because the mixture will become very stiff when the sugar mixture is added.
- Once the sugar has reached 310 degrees and has cooled for 2 minutes, begin pouring it into the beaten egg whites. With the mixer running at high speed, trickle the hot sugar in a slow, thin stream into the egg whites. Beat for 10 minutes. Add the salt and vanilla, and beat until well incorporated.
- Transfer HALF of the mixture into a 9x9-inch pan that has been lined with parchment paper and then coated lightly with cooking spray. Lightly coat your hands with cooking spray and use them to press the candy into an even layer. Add the food coloring to the remaining mixture in the bowl, mix well and then spread that on top of the plain white mixture in the pan, again using hands that have been lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Remove the candy from the refrigerator and, using a warm knife, loosen the candy block from the edges of the pan and flip it out onto a cutting board. Using a warm knife or one that has been lightly coated with cooking spray, cut the block into 15 pieces. Wrap each piece in waxed paper or parchment paper. Pańska skórka can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.