Piernik – Honey Spice Cake – Using Rye & Wheat Flour

Piernik is a cake which has been known in Poland since the 12th century.

The very first recipes used just honey, wheat or rye flour and spices (see notes in previous piernik post for spices)

I have tried a recipe which did just use honey, rye flour and spices – I did not like the result at all, so will not be including that one!

I also tried one which used wheat and potato flour which also did not turn out well.

I then went on to make the recipe below which also uses wheat flour, egg yolks and icing sugar.

I tried this out twice as the first time it did not rise very much, so I doubled the amount of bicarbonate of soda and was pleased with the result.

Piernik with rye & wheat flour

Ingredients

110g rye flour

160g plain flour

160g runny honey

2 egg yolks

100g icing sugar

1 teaspoon of piernik spices (cinnamon : cloves : cardamom – in equal parts)

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

2 tablespoons of cold water.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 160°C

Line the tin with aluminium foil, grease the foil and then coat with dried breadcrumbs.

Or

Grease & line  a 2 lb loaf tin or use a paper liner

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a large bowl mix together the rye flour, plain flour and the spices.

In a small saucepan heat the honey to boiling point & turn it off the heat & allow to cool slightly.

Pour the hot honey over the flour and mix well.

 

 

Beat the yolks with the icing sugar until  they are pale and fluffy.

Add this to the flour and honey mixture.

 

Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the water and mix this in.

Put the mixture into the prepared tin & smooth the top.

Brush the top with cold water.

 

 

Bake for around 40 minutes in the long tin & 1 hour  in the loaf tin. Check earlier and cover with greaseproof paper to stop burning if necessary.

 

This piernik is not very sweet and could be split in half and sandwiched back together with powidła  – Polish plum spread (see notes in previous piernik post) and covered in a chocolate coating made from melted butter & dark chocolate.

I just had it sliced and spread with powidła (Polish plum spread) or sour cherry or raspberry jam.

Served on La prune by Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Mama’s Never Too Late Christmas Cake

In Medieval times in Britain on Christmas Eve a porridge made with oats, to which was added dried fruits, spices and honey was eaten.  This was the origin of Christmas Pudding.

The spices used were a reminder of the Wise Men – the 3 Kings that came from the East.

By the 16th Century as ovens became more in use, butter and eggs were added and wheat flour replaced the oats and this became the Christmas cake.

We never had this cake at home until sometime in the late 1970s when my mother tried out this recipe from a magazine.

It is a very moist cake and reminiscent of Christmas pudding.

Because it is so moist it will only keep for about 2 months but it is one that can be made really at the last minute and one year I made it just 4 days before Christmas.

However if you want to add marzipan & icing then you should make it about 2- 3 weeks in advance, to give time for this to be done.

Ingredients

900g mixture of currants, raisins & sultanas

175g chopped mixed peel (if you have a 200g tub just use it all)

175g glacé cherries cut in half (if you have a 200g tub just use it all)

Grated rind of 1 lemon & 1 orange

1 large cooking apple, peeled and coarse grated

225g fine grated carrots

1 teaspoon rum

110 ml strong cold tea (I use a scented one like Earl Grey)

**********

350g Butter or block margarine

350 g soft dark brown sugar

4 tablespoons of black treacle

6 large eggs – beaten

*************

400g plain flour – sieved

½ level teaspoon salt

6 level teaspoons mixed spice

½ level teaspoon of cinnamon

½ a grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon cocoa  – yes cocoa! – sieved

1 tablespoon ground almonds (optional)

 

 

Method

Put all the fruit, carrots, rum & tea into large bowl,  mix and leave for 15 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 2 – 150oC.

In another  large bowl, cream the margarine and sugar, beat in the treacle and eggs.

Mix all the dry ingredients together & fold them in using a large metal spoon.

Fold in the fruit mix using a large metal spoon.

This amount will make one of the following cake sizes:

10” square – I find this shape the best to cut up.

10” round

8” round plus a small loaf.

Grease and line the cake tin

Put all the cake mixture into the tin to fill the shape and smooth the top.

Bake at Gas Mark 2 – 150oC for

10” square  – 2 ½ hours

10” round  –  3 ½ hours

8” round plus a small loaf  (I have never tried this – will suspect around 2 hours).

The above are guides as it does depend on your oven – you need to check earlier.

 

 

 

Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Wrap in several layers of foil to store.

Decorating the cake

It depends on who is coming and whether there are  lots of marzipan & icing lovers on how much I decorate the cake.

Sometimes I just dust the top with icing sugar.

Sometimes I just have marzipan on the top dusted with icing sugar  – but lately I have had marzipan & Royal Icing lovers coming so have decorated the top & used a cake frill around the sides.

 

Marzipan

Marzipan is a paste made from ground almonds, honey or sugar & egg white.

It is thought that it originated in China and then came to the Middle East and from there it came to some parts of Western Europe through Spain & Portugal and to Eastern Europe from Turkey.

The old name in English is marchpane and the Polish is marcepan and the name appears to come from Italy where it was known as panis martius or marzapane  which means March Bread but why March Bread – I am not sure!

It was certainly being used in the 15th century in Europe.

Preparing the cake for marzipan

Brush the surface of the cake with warmed apricot jam.

I usually make my own marzipan but of course you can buy ready made marzipan.

If you are going to ice the cake as well then allow 1 week for the marzipan to harden so the nut oils do not discolour the icing (If you know it will be eaten quickly this is not really a problem).

Ingredients per egg white

1 egg white

75g ground almonds

40g icing sugar

40g caster sugar

1 -2 drops of almond essence

I usually do a 3 egg white amount of marzipan

Method

In a bowl mix the ground almond, icing sugar and caster sugar.

Lightly beat the egg white & add the almond essence.

Add the egg white mixture to the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until you get a unified mass of marzipan.

You want a mixture that you can roll out – you may have to add more icing sugar to achieve this.

You need to dust a board with icing sugar to roll out the marzipan easily.

Royal Icing

This icing uses egg whites and give a firm icing good for doing fancy decorations (which I do not do!).

Using sugar to make icing  was a sign of wealth & power and this became very popular in Victorian times.

It was used on Queen Victoria’s wedding cake in 1840 and so got the name Royal.

You can ice right up to the last minute but it does take around a week for the icing to fully harden.

Ingredients per egg white

1 egg white

300g icing sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon ( this is optional but I usually use it)

If just doing the top of the cake I would use 2 egg whites.

Note

You can buy powdered Royal icing which is icing sugar & dried egg white and you just add water or water & lemon juice. (I have used it but have used fresh egg whites as well!)

Method

Lightly beat the egg whites and then mix in the lemon juice.

Add the icing sugar a few tablespoons at a time and keep mixing until you have have the icing thick enough to work with.

Spread the icing on top of the marzipan using a small spatula & have a mug of hot water at hand to dip the spatula in.

I do not do any fancy icing – just random peaks – also achieved using a spatula.

 

Some new Christmas cake decorations bought recently

 

 

 

 

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Pork & Pears

This is a new recipe for me – it is from the South West of Poland, the area called Śląsk – Silesia in English.

Pyrus communis is the European pear.

Pears originated in the Caucasus and then spread to Asia and Ancient Persia and from there to Europe.

Pears have been cultivated for over 4,000 years.

The Polish for pear is gruszka

Pears are more demanding than apples and so you will find that there are more pear orchards in Southern Poland where there is more sun and because of the fertile soil.

Conference is a a popular cultivated variety in England. It was cultivated by Thomas Francis Rivers and it won 1st prize in 1885 National British Pear Conference in London.

It is also popular and grown in Poland now where it is called Konferencja.

This is a good pear for this recipe as it need to be a hard pear that keeps its shape and does not disintegrate.

Version 1 Using Shoulder Pork

Ingredients

400g – 500g of shoulder pork – in slices.

4 -5 hard pears such as Conference

1 parsnip

1 carrot

1 onion

1 -2 tablespoons of plain flour.

300ml of vegetable or chicken stock (can be from powder or a cube)

4 -5 grains of  ziele angeliskie which is allspice

Salt

Sunflower oil for frying.

 

Allspice also called pimenta or Jamaican pepper is very popular in Polish cookery.

It is the dried unripe berry of Pimenta dioica, a tree native to the Greater Antilles, southern Mexico and Central America.

The name allspice was coined as early as 1621 by the English, who thought it combined the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

It used to be very popular in England and that is why in Poland it is called ziele angielskie which means English herb(Why herb rather than spice I do not know!) 

Until recently it seemed to have fallen out of favour in England though now it seems to be being used more and more.

In Poland it is used with meats as well as or instead of peppercorns and is used in cakes.

I have been able to obtain it a lot more readily in the past few years and am now using it a great deal especially in casseroles as I love the taste.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Peel & chop the parsnip and carrot into rough cubes.

Chop the onion into small pieces.

Fry the all gently together and put them at the bottom of a the casserole dish.

Lightly dust the pork and fry gently in sunflower oil.

 

Add the pork on top of the vegetables.

Sprinkle with salt.

Pour in the stock & put on the lid.

Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour – then turn the oven down to GM3 – 160°C and cook for another 2 hours.

Peel the pears and cut then in half and remove core & pips.

Place the pears on top of the meat & cover with the lid.

Cook for around 20 – 30 minutes until the pears are tender.

You can make this in advance with just the vegetables and pork and then re-heat it at GM4 – 180°C – for around an hour and then add the pears.

Using Dried Pears

Dried pears are often used rather than fresh – drying fruit is a very popular method of fruit preservation in Poland & means that this recipe could be made in the winter when all the fresh fruit was no longer available.

Dried Pears are for sale in the fruit and nut stall In Kirkstall Market in Leeds.

You have to reconstitute the pears – this is best done overnight.

Place the pears in a dish and pour hot weak black tea over the pears and leave them or you can use just hot boiled water  – I think the pears with tea taste better.

Cook the meat as before and after you have added the re-constituted pears cook the dish for another 30 – 35 minutes.

Version 2 Using Pork Loin with dried pears

You have to reconstitute the pears – this is best done overnight.

Place the pears in a dish and pour hot weak black tea over the pears and leave them or you can use just hot boiled water  – I think the pears with tea taste better.

Fry some slices of pork loin on both sides in a mixture of oil and butter in a deep frying pan.

Add the reconstituted pears about 3 per piece of meat with some of the liquid.

Cover the pans with a tight fitting lid (good to have a glass one to see what is happening – as it is easy for this to burn because of the sugar in the pears & liquid) and simmer for 25 -30 minutes.

 

 

One of my books said these went very well with dumplings from Śląsk (Silesia in English) – these I will have to investigate for a later post next year.

 

 

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Beef & Piernik

The original recipe is Belgian – if fact a recipe from Flandres or Flanders in English.

It is a recipe I adapted from a book I bought in Belgium many years ago.

The recipe is called Carbonnade flamande and uses pain d’ épices to thicken and flavour a beef casserole.

Belgian beer is used in the original recipe – I use Polish beer (piwo) – which is also a light coloured lager beer.

(When I went to my local Polish shop – they did not have the beers I normally use such as  Żywiec or Tyskie, so I used the EB which was there & it was very good).

I use piernik – a Polish honey spice cake instead of the pain d’ épices.

Note

I often slice up part of a piernik I have made and freeze this so I have some ready for this recipe.

Ingredients

500g of braising steak – cubed

2 onions chopped

2 – 3 slices of piernik (depends on the size)

500ml Polish lager

300ml vegetable or chicken stock (NOT BEEF) – can be from cubes or powder

1 bay leaf

Dried Italian herbs

2-3 grains of pepper

Sprinkling of salt

Oil for frying

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

You need an oven proof casserole dish with a tight fitting lid  – I use an enamelled dish.

Fry the beef lightly and then put this into the casserole dish.

 

 

Add the chopped onions, herbs, bay leaf, peppercorns and salt.

Chop the piernik into cubes and add this to the dish

 

 

 

Pour the beer over to cover the ingredients – add some of the stock if necessary.

The rest of the stock is used to top up the dish as it is cooking (this is better than putting it all in at the start).

Cook at GM4 – 180°C, for 1 hour then turn the oven down to GM3 – 160°C and cook for another 2 hours.

More time many be needed or you can take it out and re-heat it at GM4 – 180°C for at least 1 hour the next day.

Serve here with steamed new potatoes.

To compliment the sweetness of this dish serve with something tangy such as

ogórki (gherkins) or a sauerkraut salad.

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Piernik – Honey Spice Cake

Pierna is an old Polish word for spices and  piernik is a cake made with honey and spices.

Some sources say the name is from pieprz – pepper or piorun – thunderbolt or devil – because of its spiciness.

These cakes have been known in Poland since the 12th century and the spices would have come from Turkey (originally brought back by the crusaders) or India.

The very first recipes were just honey, flour (wheat or rye) and spices.

Honey was the original sweetener, long before sugar, and when you travel in Poland you will find many village ladies selling their own honey, the taste varies greatly depending on where the bees have found their flowers and the honey from a forest region is very dark and full of flavour.

Piernik  can vary  from being a soft dense cake to a drier but soft biscuit.

The Polish town of  Toruń is famous for its piernik and  Chopin was very found of this.

Pierniki (plural) coated with chocolate are called Katarzynki –  which means Katherine’s cakes – named after Katarzyna the daughter of one of the bakers.

Similar cakes are found throughout Europe including the French pain d’éspices, the Dutch peperkoek and the German lebkuchen.

Piernik is often translated as  Gingerbread but ginger is only rarely used!

The main spices used are cinnamon , cloves and cardamom with the addition according to different recipes of: aniseed, black pepper, caraway, coriander, nutmeg, dried orange and/or lemon peel and then in later recipes allspice which is from the New World.

Spice Mixture for Piernik

Having looked at many recipes I have made my own basic 3 spice mixture – to which I can add other spices if I want a variation.

I have mixed equal parts of ground cinnamon, cloves & cardamom & saved them in a jar.

 

In Polish shops in England you can buy ready mixed spices for piernik.

This little packet contains around 2 tablespoons.

You can use the mixed spice mixture which is sold by Marks & Spencer which contains: dried orange peel, cassia (a variety of cinnamon), ginger, nutmeg, pimento (allspice) and caraway.

 

 

Piernik in Poland is associated with the Christmas season and would be made for Christmas Eve and for Christmas Day, it would also be made for Święty MikołajDecember 6thSt Nicholas Day. This a day for present giving in Poland to children and I would always get a piernik shaped and decorated to look like the bishop that was St Nicholas.

I have been looking through my many recipe books and there are just dozens of different recipes & I have been trying some of these out.

Many of the recipes have the addition of chopped nuts and/or mixed peel – I have not added these to my tests as I just wanted to try out the “basic” recipe.

Some of the recipes were for large quantities & I have cut them down in size.  Many do not give baking tin sizes or oven temperatures – so I have done a bit of trial and error with some of the ones I have done.

In many of the recipes the dough or batter once mixed up is left for up to 3 weeks before baking.  This indeed is a slow fermentation!

Even if the piernik is mixed and baked on the same day, most of them benefit from being wrapped and left for several days before serving.

The recipes in this post are ones you mix and bake on the same or the next day.

My mother made miodownik  – honey spice cake (which could be classed as a piernik). Hers is a more moist cake using vegetable oil, which is certainly a more modern ingredient.

This first recipe is adapted from a recently bought little cookbook.

The honey used in the book was given as fir tree honey – this would be a dark honey and would make the cake very dark.

(I remember getting some of this when one of my cousins came from Poland – it was nearly black!)

The honey you use will make a difference to the colour and flavour of the cake. I have used a basic clear type honey.

As only honey is used in this recipe, I think this one  is nearer the old recipes.

Piernik 1

Ingredients

450g plain flour

350g runny honey

125g butter or block margarine

Grated rind of a 1 lemon

1 egg – beaten

100ml of milk

1 + 1/2 teaspoons of spices

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

Grease and line a large loaf tin – mine is longer than the regular 2lb tin.

Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan.

Mix together the spices, bicarbonate of soda and salt & add these to the flour in a large bowl.

Add the egg, the milk and the lemon rind and mix together.

Add the honey and the milk and mix together till you have a uniform smooth consistency.

Put the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.

Bake for around 50 minutes – checking a little earlier & cover with greaseproof paper it it looks like burning on the top if you need more time.

Leave to cool in the tin.

 

Wrap in foil to store.

The piernik can be dusted with icing sugar, topped with icing or with chocolate icing – of course these are relatively modern additions to the medieval piernik!

Variation

Addition of pepper

I made the piernik as above with the addition of 1/2 a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper with the spices.

I did not think it added much to the flavour – I was expecting it to be a little peppery!

 

Piernik 2

This little honey recipe book has around 2 dozen recipes for piernik  to choose from! (miód is Polish for honey)

 

 

Ingredients

400g plain flour

1 tablespoonful of butter

120g of granulated sugar

2 eggs

250g runny honey

125ml of milk

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of spices

Method

Warm the honey slightly.

Put the flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter.

Add the sugar,  bicarbonate of soda and the spices.

Mix in the eggs.

Add the honey

Add the milk & mix to give a very thick batter.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave it in a cool place for a couple of hours.

Grease & line a 32cm by 22cm baking tin.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 -190°C.

Put the cake mixture into the tin and spread it out.

Bake for around 30 minutes (check earlier  and cover if it looks like burning.)

Leave in the tin to cool.

Wrap in foil and leave for a couple of days .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea plate is Sonnet by Royal Doulton, 1971 to 1998.

This piernik can be dusted with icing sugar, topped with icing or with chocolate icing.

It can also be cut into 2 slabs which are then sandwiched together with powidła which is a lovely spread – often translated as jam but  is not really a jam.

It is made from fresh ripe plums which are heated and stirred for hours until the water is driven off and you get a thick paste.  The traditional version does not have any extra sugar added.

I bought some in my local Polish shop, I have seen it for sale before in glass jars, this product is in a plastic tub

 

 

Pierniczki – Small Honey Cakes

Pierniczki are a small cake or biscuit version of piernik.

For  Święty MikołajDecember 6thSt Nicholas Day I often buy packets of these glazed with clear or white icing or chocolate (You can get them in lots of shops nowadays including Lidl & Aldi) but sometimes I make them myself as they are very easy & delicious.

Ingredients

280g plain flour

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

180g of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of  spice

100g of runny honey

2 eggs

Optional

Icing sugar to dust

Method

Pre heat the oven to GM 5 – 190oC

Grease several baking sheets.

In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.

Beat the eggs lightly and mix these and the honey into the dry ingredients.

Place tablespoons well apart on the greased sheets and bake for about 10 minutes.

They do spread quite a bit.

Leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray and then put the on a wire rack to cool and the dust with icing sugar.

Pierniczki – Small Honey Cakes (filled)

The dough for these is made the evening before.

Ingredients

120g runny honey

60g granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of spice

40g of butter

250g of plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 large egg

Filling

Powidła, apricot or sour cherry jam

Optional

Lightly beaten egg white for a glaze

Method

Heat the honey in a saucepan over a moderate heat and add the sugar and spices, stirring all the time for about 3 to 4 minutes so that the sugar is dissolved but do not let the honey boil.

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.

In a separate pan melt the butter and then set that aside to cool.

In a large bowl add the baking powder to the flour.

Pour in the honey mixture, melted butter and the egg and mix with a a wooden spoon to form a soft dough.

Transfer to a small bowl and cover with a cloth and refrigerate overnight.

The next day -take out for 15 minutes before using.

Grease several baking sheets.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C

You need a 6cm round cutter.

Cut the dough into halves or thirds.

Roll out the dough till it is thin and cut out circles.

Place a largish teaspoon of the powidła or jam on the middle of the circle (going for height).

 

 

The more jam the better but it can be hard to seal the circles – takes a bit of practice!

Place another circle on top and press the edges together firmly.

 

You can brush the tops with beaten egg white.

Place on the baking sheet – leaving some space between circles.

 

Bake for 15 minutes – checking earlier as they burn easily.

Leave to cool slightly on the tin before placing them on a wire rack.

 

Dust them with icing sugar.

Served on tea plates – Counterpoint by Royal Doulton 1973 – 1987.

Easy unfilled option

I think once you have tried the jam filled ones, these will be the only ones you want!

However if you want a harder biscuit to decorate with icing  then just place single circles on the baking trays and bake for 8 – 10  minutes – you really need to keep an eye on these as they burn very easily.

These come out as a quite hard biscuit.

These can be decorated with icing or chocolate icing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rice Salads

For these salads you will need some cold cooked rice – I use long grained or Basmati rice  – but it can be whatever you like to use.

I rarely cook the rice specially – I am more likely to use what is left from a previous meal.

However for these I cooked some rice to see how much was needed.

I find the best dressing for these salads is one based on lemon juice with the addition of some runny honey if you want a little sweetness.

Rice, Peas & Sweetcorn Salad

 

 

 

 

20171108_094335

Ingredients

400g cold boiled rice

100g of cooked garden peas

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt & ground back pepper

1 tablespoon of honey if desired

Method

In a large bowl mix the rice, peas and sweetcorn together.

Pour over the juice of the lemon and mix well.

If you are adding honey then warm about 1 tablespoon gently and mix that in.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rice, Peas,Sweetcorn & Peppers Salad

Ingredients

400g cold boiled rice

100g of cooked garden peas

1 small tin of sweetcorn, drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 or 2 fresh red peppers or bottled ones

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt & ground back pepper

1 tablespoon of honey if desired

 

Method

In a large bowl mix the rice, peas and sweetcorn together.

If using fresh peppers then remove the stalk and the seeds and chop the flesh into small pieces.

I often blanch the peppers by putting them in a dish with boiling water and letting them stand for about 10 minutes the drain and pat dry.

 

 

If using bottled peppers then drain them from the liquid and cut into small pieces.

Add the peppers to the salad mixture.

Pour over the juice of the lemon and mix well.

If you are adding honey then warm about 1 tablespoon gently and mix that in.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Inspired in Castor – Rice Salad with Leeks

Not long ago I spent a stitching week in Castor, Cambridgeshire, with a  group of super ladies.  I was responsible for some of the catering.  One evening there was a large amount of leftover cooked rice, peas & sweetcorn, so I decided to make this into a salad with other ingredients we had in the kitchen.

This turned out to be a delicious salad and it got a lot of approval & I will certainly be making this again.

Ingredients

400g cold cooked rice

100g Cooked peas

1 small tin of sweetcorn – drained (or frozen loose sweetcorn – cooked)

1 -2 Grated carrots

1 grated eating apple

1 -2 leeks

Green part of spring onions – chopped fine

Flat Leaf parsley – chopped fine

Salt & ground back pepper

Juice of 1 – 2 lemons.

Method

Chop the leeks as fine as you can into circles and then cut these into half and put them into a large dish.

Cover the leeks with boiling water and leave them to stand until the water is cool.

Strain the leeks, leave them to cool down completely and then dry them with a clean tea towel or kitchen roll.

 

 

Mix the rice, apple & vegetables together in a large dish.

Pour the lemon juice over the salad.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

This was served with a beef in beer gulasz (casserole) & the salad provided a good balance against the richness of the casserole.

 

 

 

 

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Walnut Tort

This is the same  recipe as the  Hazelnut tort only here ground walnuts  are used instead of hazelnuts.

I used the 6 egg recipe and made it in 2 x 18cm sponge cake tins.

A Little Note About Walnuts

Walnuts (Juglans regia) are native to south-east Europe and south-west China. They are the oldest tree food known dating back to 7,000 BC.

There are accounts of their cultivation in Babylon (now Iraq) in 2,000BC.

Juglans regia means means Jupiter’s royal nut.

They are the seed of a drupe (stone fruit) – not a true Botanical nut.

In Polish walnuts are orzechy włoskie –  nuts Italian – so named it is thought as they were brought to Poland by traders from Imperial Rome.

Black walnuts (Juglans nigra) are native to North America.

Ingredients

6 eggs

225g  caster sugar

225g ground walnuts

2 sponge fingers – crushed.

Optional – extra chopped walnuts for sprinkling on the butter cream or grated dark chocolate.

P1030465

Method

You will need to grind the walnuts and of course an electric grinder makes this very easy.

It is best to chop the walnuts into small pieces as this will make it easier and grind the walnuts in small batches so as not to over strain the motor.

Pre-heat the oven to GM5 – 190°C.

Grease and line 2 x 18cm in diameter tins.

Crush the sponge fingers and mix them with the ground walnuts.

 

Whisk together the eggs and sugar until they are pale and frothy.

Fold in the walnut mixture.

Divide the mixture between the two tins and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Allow the cakes to cool .

Drizzle each cake with a poncz (sweetened punch). I used 50ml of weak black tea, 1 tablespoon of rum  and 1 tablespoon of  sugar.

 

Sandwich together with a butter cream & cover the top and sides also.

The following flavours are good with walnuts.

I used a rum butter cream made from 80g butter, 1 egg yolk  1 tablespoon of rum and  around 230g of icing sugar.

Cream the butter and the egg yolk and add the rum.  Mix in the icing sugar until you have the desired consistency.

More butter cream would have been better – I was trying to use the minimum this time!

I added chopped nuts to the top and sides (I used a cake stand with a small lip – a totally flat stand would have make it easier to add the nuts to the sides).

 

 

Served on – Tuscan China – Bird of Paradise – Hand Painted – 1930s

An Austrian Influence

A few weeks ago I bought an excellent Austrian cookery book in a charity shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know that there is a lot of overlap & influence between Polish & Austrian Cookery  and have enjoyed looking at this book and comparing my recipes with ones here.

On the back cover it says

The culinary flavour of Austria is a gentle flavour. It knows of the fiery spices of Hungary and the elegance of French cuisine. It derives much of its strength from Moravia and much of its daring from Poland.”

For several of the cakes apricot or redcurrant jam is used to cover the top and sides of the cake before icing it.

For a walnut gateau, similar to my recipe, redcurrant jam is used.

I decided to do a variation of this with my walnut tort and to use raspberry jam.

The 2 cakes were made as above.

A poncz(sweet punch) was used made from 50ml of weak black tea and 1 tablespoon of sugar to drizzle the cakes.

The cakes were then sandwiched together with a raspberry butter cream using  60g Butter, 180g icing sugar & 2 tablespoons of raspberry jam which were creamed together.

 

Then the  top and sides were covered with raspberry jam, warmed slightly for ease of spreading and then this was allowed to dry.

I then made a lemon icing with the juice of 1 lemon and  icing sugar and used this to cover the top and sizes.

 

 

Served on Royal Grafton – Woodside  –  from the 1950s

However

This did not work too well – the icing I made was too stiff and I disturbed the jam underneath and got a mottled pink and white icing which  then  dripped down onto the base of the cake stand!!

However my friends thought the cake tasted wonderful and loved the combination of  flavours, so I decided to make the icing with the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of raspberry jam & icing sugar and see how that worked.

Storage

Do not cover the cake completely or it will go very soggy – cover it with a net or similar which will let the air circulate but keep insects off.

 

Alternative Icing 1

I decided to test out the raspberry icing over a creamed sponge cake – I used 4 eggs and equal amounts of butter, caster sugar and self raising flour and baked them in 2 x 20 cm anodised baking tins.

I sandwiched the cakes together with a layer of jam and the raspberry butter cream as above.

 

I then made a thick icing using the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of raspberry jam & icing sugar.

 

Served on Aynsley  –  Las Palmas – 1960s

Alternative Icing 2

This icing was not as tangy as on the original cake so I tested this again with a more pouring, dripping glaze – this time using the juice a lemon, 1 tablespoon of raspberry jam & enough icing sugar to make a more pouring glaze.

I made just one 22cm round walnut cake and cut it in half &  used a poncz(sweet punch) made from 50ml of weak black tea and 1 tablespoon of sugar to drizzle the cake.

 

 

A few thoughts!

With hindsight I would not use one cake again as it was hard to cut it through evenly & there were lots of crumbs – if I only wanted to use 4 eggs,  I would make 2 smaller cakes.

I still have not got the icing quite right – this time there was too much & it was a bit too runny – maybe just the juice of half a lemon would be enough – however the taste was very good.

The cake improved over the next few days as the icing seeped into the cake.

 

 

Served on Colclough – Stardust – from the 1960s.

Storage

As with the cakes above do not cover the cake completely or it will go very soggy – cover it with a net or similar which will let the air circulate but keep insects off.

 

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