In the Czech lands, the lean times of the Lenten season, marked by the consumption of lentils, bread, eggs, and potatoes were historically preceded by the masked parades and free-wheeling pork-and-donut days of carnival, or masopust, season, culminating in Fat Tuesday. The traditional masopust confections featured here are still an important element of Shrovetide celebrations and can be made not only on masopustní úterý but whenever a craving for the deep-fried and sugar-dusted hits:
This yeast-based confection is similar to the French beignet although a bit more substantial by our estimation. The Czech vdolky are typically topped with a spoonful of luscious plum jam (povidla) as well as a dollop of whipped cream—in fact, before frying them you are advised to dip a finger into the batter to make a groove for holding all that sugary goodness.
Masopust wouldn’t be masopust without a batch of Czech carnival donuts. Whether you buy them (we highly recommend Maso a Kobliha in Prague or one of these Expats-approved donut shops) or whip up a batch in your own kitchen, no pre-Lenten feast is complete without the custard- or jelly-filled and sugar-sprinkled delights elsewhere known paczki.
Boží milosti (God’s mercy)
Perhaps a bit of a lesser-known on the spectrum of carnival indulgences, boží milosti (God’s mercy) are crispy fritters made from a butter-based dough and, you guessed it, deep-fried and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. A distant relative to the Italian chiacchiere which takes its name from the Italian word for “chatter” due to its vociferous crunch.
Kynuté koláče s náplní (Sourdough kolaches with fillings)
Despite its humble origins, Czech kolač, a pastry typically filled with preserves or farmer’s cheese, has become a worldwide phenomenon with particularly loyal devotees to be found in Texas where spicy sausage versions rule the day. But at masopust it’s all about the sweet version, filled with plum jam and/or poppy seeds.
Buchty (Yeast buns)
Something like a dinner roll filled with plum preserves or the Czech tvaroh cheese, these yeast buns are almost as essential to the Shrovetide revelry as kobliha. If you want to be even more decadent about it, traditionalists glaze their buchty with a mixture of melted butter and rum.