Saint Petersburg’s favorite doughnuts: pishki
The first thing that comes to our minds when saying “doughnut” is the typical American deep-fried and ring-shaped dough, usually glazed with sugar icing or topped with powdered sugar, chocolate or colored sprinkles. But being honest, this is an international dish, present all over the world and prepared in many different ways according to traditions. It may have different shapes, with or without a hole, it can be filled with some kind of cream or just empty and can be homemade or purchased in bakeries and supermarkets.
Many countries in Europe have their own kind of doughnuts which are called with different names: krapfen in Germany, churros in Spain, ciambelle in Italy, crullers in France and pishki in Russia.
Origin of the word pishki
The word “пышки” has been used by people in Saint Petersburg since the end of the war to refer to the typical ring-shaped Russian doughnut. This Russian street food has a very long and complicated history, and no one knows where it comes from exactly. In old Slavic sources there are many descriptions of this popular food made of flour and yeast dough, knead until it’s smooth and then deep fried in seed oil or butter. It is commonly believed that the term itself comes from the Polish word “pączek”, which means doughnut. But, even if there are many descriptions of it in literature, some people still debate on where this particular dish first appeared. According to some of them they were prepared for the first time during the period of Ivan III the Great as he really loved sweets.
Recipes for their preparation appeared in cuisine manuals already at the beginning of the 19th century. According to the tradition, the dough is made of sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder, salt and milk. First of all, you need to knead the dough so that it gets smooth and soft and then it needs to rest for a couple hours in a dark and warm place. The next step is making the typical ring shape and then frying our pishki in a big pan full of seed oil. After this they should be put on paper towel so that it absorbs exceeding oil, and then covered with powdered sugar and eaten warm. Приятного аппетита!
Where to get some delicious pishki
Pishki is a very traditional Russian treat and is usually accompanied by a cup of hot milk or coffee. You can enjoy it whenever you want during the year, especially in winter when it’s cold outside and a hot drink restores your soul. They are widely available throughout Russia and are typically very cheap (10-15 rubles each). There are many bakeries and small shops selling them, however, if you find yourself in Saint Petersburg, one of the best and most famous places to get your hands on a plate of these Russian treats is at the Pishyechnaya (Пышечная) in Bolshaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa 25, not far from Nevskiy Prospekt Metro Station and exactly a 10-minute walking distance from our school. Here people wait in long lines, often all the way out the door to get these yummy doughnuts with an inexpensive cup of coffee. Here you will try the best doughnuts in town, but do not expect any fancy stuff: it’s a quick-eat or to-go place, you just need 10 minutes to have 4-5 delicious pishki and coffee with milk. This place has always been a worship place for all Saint Petersburg kids and doughnut lovers since 1956. The atmosphere is one of its best traits, it remained as it was during the Soviet period: when you walk in, you find that the place is filled with not much more than a bunch of tables and a counter to order.
Every local knows about it and loves it!