Placek with Rhubarb & Meringue

This cake was inspired by my placek(flat cake) with sour cherries and meringue

There are three parts to this cake:

  • Short pastry base – baked and cooled.
  • Rhubarb filling – cooked and left to go cold.
  • Meringue topping.

Three stages all take a bit of time but well worth the effort. It is delicious with a lovely balance of  sweetness against the tart rhubarb.

Short pastry base

The base of is made with a smaller amount of the recipe for  Ciasto kruche 1 – using raw egg yolks found in a previous post  – Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche. 

I could see out of my kitchen window that the rhubarb was beginning to grow.  As I still had one batch left frozen from last summer I to decided to use that up before the new crop and in time for you to try it.

Ingredients – base

  • 200g plain flour
  • 100g butter – chilled
  • 70g icing sugar
  • 2 egg yokes
  • pinch of salt

Method – base

  • Add a pinch of salt to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Add the yolks and gently mix this in, then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.
  • Form the dough into a rough rectangle.
  • Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to GM 6 – 200°C.
  • Grease and line a 23 x 26 cm baking tin.
  • Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough a little
  • Press the dough into the tin – filling it up all the sides.
  • Prick the surface with a fork.
  • Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till golden.
  • Leave to cool.

Ingredients – Rhubarb filling

  • 400g (approx) of rhubarb
  • 150g of granulated sugar (more may be needed)
  • 25g of butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2-3 tablespoons of potato or corn flour

Method – rhubarb filling

  • This needs to be made ahead of time as it must be cold.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM2
  • Chop the rhubarb into small pieces and place in a baking dish
  • Add sugar.
  • Bake in the oven for around 1 hour – till soft.
  • Check for sweetness and add more sugar if necessary – but not too sweet.
  • Leave to cool a little.
  • *
  • I used cooked rhubarb that I had frozen from last year. 
  • *
  • Wizz the rhubarb up with a blender or chopper to get a purée.
  • Place this in a saucepan.
  • Heat slowly.
  • Mix the yolks with the potato or cornflour and add this to the rhubarb and heat till it thickens.
  • Add the butter and mix in.
  • Leave to go cold before use.

A few thoughts on the origin & history of meringues:

  • Meringue – a French word.
  • Swiss village of Meiringen.
  • Improved by Italian chef Gasparini.
  • From Polish word – marzynka – a day dream?
  • Made by the chef for the exiled king of Poland, Stanisław Leszczyński (1677 – 1766), Duke of Lorraine (1737 -1766).
  • His daughter, Maria, was married to Louis XV of France and she introduced them to the court.
  • In Polish – beza(sing)) bezy(pl) – link to – buzi kiss?
  • French meringue – whisk eggs till stiff – add sugar and whisk again.
  • Italian meringue – uses sugar syrup.
  • Swiss meringue – sugar and whites heated over a water bath.
  • Addition of cornflour – strengthens the egg white.

Meringue

  • I used 4 egg whites & 200g icing sugar.
  • Place the whites into a grease free bowl.
  • Whisk till stiff.
  • Add icing sugar and whisk again till stiff.
  • Preheat the oven to GM 1 -140°C.
  • Cover the base with the rhubarb filling and level it out.
  • Cover the rhubarb with the meringue and level it out
  • Put back into the oven for 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Cut the cake into squares when cool to serve.

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

Half or Semi French? – Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie 3

There are two similarly named pastries in Polish cookery:

  • Ciasto francuskie  – translates as French pastry – this is puff pastry.
  • Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie  – translates as half or semi French pastry.

I have seen ciasto pȯłfrancuskie described as rough puff pastry  – but it  is not – rough puff is a slightly easier and quicker version of puff pastry.

I have seen many different recipes for this semi-French pastry and they fall into three broad categories:

  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie  – śmietanowe – dough  made with some soured cream. 
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – serowe  –  dough made with twaróg – curd cheese.
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – drożdźowe – dough made with yeast.

Ciasto  pȯłfrancuskie 3 – with yeast

This is very much like the pastry used to make real French croissants, which are more yeast based than the crumbly puff pastry type you get here in England.

NoteThis recipe takes most of the day with frequent bits of activity and longer times of rest. 

  • There are two parts to this pastry:
  • The first is to make a yeast pastry and I have used the rogaliki (little horns) recipe which I posted recently for this.
  • The second is to use lots of butter and to layer up the pastry as you would do for puff pastry.
  • I have seen lots of different methods for adding the butter and doing the layering as well as how cold the butter should be and how long to rest between layering, whether to chill and how often. – I have described one of the shorter ways of doing this.

Ingredients – Yeast Dough

Leaven – Starter

  • 150g plain flour
  • 200ml warm milk
  • 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar
  • 1 pkt of dried yeast (= 1 tablespoon)

    Rest of Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 100g butter
  • 2 yolks
  • *
  • a little more milk might be needed 
  • Egg white to glaze
  • Icing sugar to dust
  • *
  • For layering
  • Around 180g of butter

Method

  • Mix the yeast and sugar into the hand hot milk.
  • Put 150g of flour into a bowl and mix in the milk mixture until it is like double cream.
  • Cover the bowl and leave it to rise.
  • *
  • Rub the butter into the 300g of flour until it is like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the egg yolks and the yeast starter.
  • Mix till you get a soft dough – you might need to add a tablespoon or so of milk – depends on the flour.
  • Knead the dough till you have a nice smooth ball.
  • Leave in a bowl, covered, to rise and double in size.
  • *
  • Place the butter into a dish and leave at room temperature to soften.
  • Knead the risen dough lightly for a few minutes.
  • **
  • Roll out the dough out thinly into a large rectangle.
  • Spread a around a sixth of the butter over 2/3rds of the surface.
  • Fold the dough without the butter over a third of the dough.
  • Fold the rest of the dough over this – making a rectangle.
  • Turn the dough by 90°.
  • Repeat the rolling, butter spreading and folding
  • Leave to rest for around 10 minutes.
  • ***
  • Repeat from ** to *** twice.
  • *
  • Cover the dough in greaseproof paper and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes or longer if you do not want to use just straight away.
  • When you want to use the dough take it out of the fridge for 20 minutes
  • *
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C
  • Grease two baking sheets.
  • Roll the dough out into a rectangle to use.

 

  • I made rogaliki but you can do other shapes & use fillings.
  • *
  • Cut into eight triangles.
  • Roll  each one up from the large end.
  • Place them on a baking sheet – as far apart as possible.
  • Brush the tops with egg white.
  • Cover loosely and leave for about 15 minutes.
  • Bake for around 15 minutes.
  • Leave to cool slightly
  • You can dust with icing sugar.

Phew! this was a marathon but I wanted to try this to see how it is done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keks -With Fruit Mincemeat – 2

Keks is the word for a light fruit cake which is baked in a loaf tin or more often in a long narrow rectangular tin.

I am not sure how or when the word keks came into the Polish language but I am certain it comes from the English word “cakes” –  however the word keks is singular in Polish and means cake, and the plural is  keksy which is cakes.

Keks are make with bakalie, which is usually translated as dried fruits – however it has more varied fruits than the English version of dried grapes (raisins, sultanas, currants) and  mixed peel and can include: apricots, dates, figs, prunes and nuts.

Keks – using fruit mincemeat

At Christmas time I make English fruit mincemeat using the recipe from Delia Smith but without the chopped nuts.

If I have any mincemeat left over after the Christmas period I make a fruit loaf which which is very much a keks.

This is my second version of a keks with mincemeat.

 

Ingredients

  • 150 butter
  • 150g dark brown sugar
  • Grated zest of an orange
  • Grated zest of a lemon
  • 3 eggs
  • 450g jar of mincemeat (exact amount is not critical)
  • 175g  mixture of sultanas, raisins, currants & mixed peel
  • 50g of chopped walnuts
  • 225g  spelt flour
  • 3 level teaspoons of baking powder

Method

  • Preheat the oven to GM3 – 160ºC
  • Prepare the long loaf tin by greasing it and lining the long sides using one piece of greaseproof paper.
  • Lightly cream the butter and sugar.
  • Add the grated zest of the lemon and the orange.
  • Beat in the eggs, one by one.
  • Stir in the mincemeat, the dried fruits and walnuts until it is an even consistency – a wooden spoon is good for this.
  • Mix the spelt flour with the baking powder.
  • Stir in the flour mixture.
  • Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.
  • Bake for around 60 minutes – check after 50 minutes and cover the top if necessary to prevent burning.
  • Leave to cool in the tin before turning it out.

 

Served here on hand painted Paragon octagonal tea plates.

 

Semi French? Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie 2

There are two similarly named pastries in Polish cookery:

  • Ciasto francuskie  – translates as French pastry – this is puff pastry.
  • Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie  – translates as half or  semi French pastry.

I have seen ciasto pȯłfrancuskie described as rough  puff pastry  – but it  is not – rough puff is a slightly easier and quicker version of puff pastry.

I have seen many different recipes for this semi-French pastry and they fall into three broad categories:

  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – śmietanowe – dough  made with some soured cream. 
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – serowe  –  dough made with twaróg – curd cheese.
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – drożdźowe – dough made with yeast.

Ciasto  pȯłfrancuskie 2 – with curd cheese – twaróg

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 225g butter
  • 225g twaróg – curd cheese or yoghurt cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of soured cream – maybe needed – depends on dampness of the cheese

Note as you use equal parts of the three main ingredients, you can make an amount suited to you needs – I usually go by how much yoghurt cheese I have.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to GM7 – 220ºC
  • Grease several baking sheets.
  • You need to get the curd cheese as dry as possible, if you are using homemade then allow this to strain as long as possible.
  • Put the flour into a large bowl.
  • Add the butter and with a knife chop it up roughly.
  • Then with your finger tips rub the butter in until you have fine breadcrumbs.
  • Mix in the curd cheese and bring the dough together, adding as much soured cream as is needed.
  • When using my own yoghurt cheese I often do not need any soured cream.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and leave in a cool place for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 4 and work with each quarter at a time, leaving the rest in a cool place .
  • Roll the dough out thinly
  • Cut into  circles using a 7cm cutter.
  • Add around a teaspoon of filling* see below and fold the circle into half.
  • Pinch the edges together carefully.
  • Place the pastries on the greased baking sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden.
  • For ones with sweet fillings dust with icing sugar whilst still warm.

Fillings

You can use lots of savoury or sweet fillings – here are a few suggestions:

  • Date
  • Poppy seed mixture
  • Walnut
  • Hazelnut

All filling must be cool before using.

Date

  • Chop 200g of dried dates.
  • Place in a small saucepan and cover with water (and you can add a little lemon juice).
  • Heat gently and stir.
  • Cook until you have a soft pulp.

 

Poppy Seed Mixture

 

See instructions in an earlier post – ciasto pȯłfrancuskie 1

Walnut

  • Grind 100g of chopped walnuts.
  • Add the nuts to around 3 tablespoons of apricot jam.
  • Mix well together.

 

You can do the same with hazelnuts.

Half French?- Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie 1

Ciasto  pȯłfrancuskie translates as half or semi French pastry.

Now this does not really mean anything to me!

I am going to start this post with a little introduction to two similarly named pastries frequently used in Polish cooking.

  • Ciasto francuskie  – translates as French pastry
  • Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie  – translates as half or semi French pastry.

They are both buttery, unsweetened pastry.

French pastry is puff pastry.

Now I do not intend to write about puff pastry as it is something I am really not inclined to make as it is so time consuming and you can buy ready made version both chilled and frozen which are okay.

Maybe in several years when short of topics I might give it a go!

I am going to write about ciasto pȯłfrancuskie. I  have seen this described as rough puff pastry  – but it  is not – rough puff is slightly easier and quicker than puff pastry  but once again I am not going to write about this.

I have seen many different recipes for this half-French pastry and they fall into three broad categories:

  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – śmietanowe – dough  made with some soured cream.
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – serowe – dough made with twaróg – curd cheese.
  • ciasto pȯłfrancuskie – drożdźowe – dough made with yeast.

Ciasto  pȯłfrancuskie 1 – with soured cream

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 225g butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 yolks
  • 4 tablespoons of soured cream

Method

This dough should be left for around 12 hours in a cool place before using therefore I usually make this in the evening for the next morning.

  • Put the flour into a large bowl.
  • Add the butter and with a knife chop it up roughly.
  • Then with your finger tips rub the butter in until you have fine breadcrumbs.
  • Beat the egg and yolks together.
  • Stir in the egg and some of the soured cream.
  • Bring the dough together, adding as much soured cream as is needed to bring the dough together.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and leave covered in the bowl in a cool place for around 12 hours.
  • *** After 12 Hours ***
  • Preheat the oven to GM7 – 220ºC
  • Grease several baking sheets.
  • Divide the dough into 4 and work with each quarter at a time, leaving the rest in a cool place .
  • Roll the dough out thinly
  • The dough is cut into shapes and a teaspoon of filling added and the pastry sealed as appropriate.

Traditional shapes

  • Squares filled and folded into triangles and sealed
  • Triangles filled and rolled up and formed into crescents
  • Circles filled and folded over into semi-circles and sealed.

I found that the circles using a 7cm cutter were the easiest to handle and gave the best filling to to pastry ratio and am sticking to this size and shape.

 

Filling ideas

  • Jam – I found this often escapes from the pastry – lots of care  is needed.
  • Poppy Seed Mix  – * see below
  • Mincemeat – This English fruit mix would be recognised in Poland as bakalie -Balkan mix.

 

 

  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes till golden brown
  • Dust with icing sugar whilst still warm.

 

 

Poppy Seed Filling

I make this amount of  poppy seed filling and then divide it into 4 or 5 small batches and freeze them for later use.

Ingredients

  • 200g poppy seeds
  • 500ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 120 ml runny honey & 1 tablespoon
  • 25g butter
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla essence
  • optional 1 teaspoon of  rum

Method

  • Put the poppy seeds and milk into a saucepan and simmer then together for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop any sticking or burning. The aim is to cook the seeds and adsorb as much of the milk as possible. You need to watch this carefully and keep adjusting the heat to stop the mixture burning.
  • Using a fine sieve, strain the poppy seeds from the liquid – leave this for a while to remove as much liquid as possible.
  • The poppy seeds need to be crushed, I use a hand held blender for about 5 minutes which I find is the easiest way but you can use a pestle and mortar or a mincer.
  • Once crushed, place the poppy seeds back into a saucepan and add the ground almonds, the vanilla essence and the 120ml of honey and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the butter to the mixture and simmer gently for about 5 minutes and then leave this mixture to cool completely and then add the rum.
  • Whisk the 1 tablespoon of honey with the egg yolk until this is thick and creamy and then add this to the mixture.
  • Optional – add a teaspoon of rum.

 

Babka with Three Chocolates!

I was inspired by the use of 3 sorts of chocolate in a recipe I saw from Lidl to decorate a babka.

Babka is the name of a Polish cake – the word means grandmother and refers to the round dumpy shape reminiscent of an older lady wearing a long full skirt as is traditional in many Polish folk costumes.

Wooden Dolls in Polish Costumes

This marbled babka was made using a creamed sponge mixtureusing my mother’s friend’s basic recipe for a creamed sponge.

Ingredients – Cake

  • In this recipe you weigh the eggs in their shells and then use the same weights of butter, caster sugar and self raising flour.
  • Use 4 or 5 eggs
  • 2 drops of vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa
  • 2 tablespoons of water

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C
  • Grease the babka tin with melted butter using a pastry brush.
  • For this babka, 4 eggs were used. (I could have used 5 eggs for this tin).
  • Cream the butter and sugar.
  • Beat the eggs with the vanilla essence and add them gradually – mixing in thoroughly.
  • Fold in the flour.
  • Use half of the mixture and place spoonfuls in the bottom of the tin.
  • Mix the cocoa and water together.
  • Mix the cocoa mixture into the second half of the cake mixture.
  • Placed this on top of the plain mixture and flatten it off.
  • With a metal knife lightly mix the two to give a marbling effect.
  • Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes.
  • Leave the cake to cool in the tin before turning out.

Ingredients – Icing

  • 100g of dark chocolate and 60g of butter
  • 50g of milk chocolate and 30g of butter
  • Shavings of white chocolate.

Method

  • Put the dark chocolate and butter into a glass bowl.
  • Heat the bowl over hot water, stirring till it all melts together.
  • Drizzle this over the babka and leave to cool.
  • Put the milk chocolate and butter into a glass bowl.
  • Heat the bowl over hot water, stirring till it all melts together.
  • Drizzle this over the dark chocolate.
  • Scatter the white chocolate shaving over the milk chocolate icing.

 

Portmeirion plate – The Holly & The Ivy – the pattern inspired by the 17th Century English Carol – launched in 1997.

Served on tea plates by Duchess – Poppies – from the 1980s.

Piernik – Honey Spice Cake-2

Two months to Christmas and I am posting this recipe so you have time to prepare for then.

I have tried out several piernik – honey spice cake  recipes  & many of them have been dreadful!

But at last I have found one that I am happy to share – I would describe it as a sort of soft biscuit.

This is piernik staropolski (in the old Polish style) and is a recipe which takes time to make, as the mixture is left for several weeks before it is baked – (10 days is the absolute minimum). This maturing enhances the flavour of the spices.

I have been reading that some people make their dough even earlier say in September before they bake it

This piernik is baked for Święty Mikołaj – St Nicholas Day – December 6th and for  Wigilia – Christmas Eve – December 24th.

The science for this will be really interesting – I presume it is a slow fermentation that is taking place & the high honey/sugar content, low temperature & access to air prevents the dough from spoiling.

Ingredients

  • 250ml runny honey
  • 125g Trex™ **
  • 230g granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs – lightly beaten
  • 550g plain flour (may need more)
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spices or piernik mix (ground cinnamon, cloves, cardamom in equal parts)
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 70 ml of warm milk
  • 250g mixed dried fruit (raisins, peel, chopped dates and figs)

** The original recipe uses lard (pork fat) – I used Trex™ – a white solid vegetable fat.

Method

  • Put the honey, sugar and Trex in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring the mixture till all the Trex is melted and the sugar dissolved.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Mix the flour, salt & spices together.
  • Add this to the honey mixture and mix together first with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the beaten eggs to the mixture.
  • Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add this to the dough and mix till you have a thick dough.
  • Knead this dough lightly for around 5 minutes (add more flour if the mixture is too wet).
  • Add in the dried fruits and knead them in lightly.
  • Form the dough into a ball.
  • Place the dough in a glass or ceramic bowl – not a metal one.
  • Cover with a linen or cotton cloth – tie the string around it to keep it covered.
  • Do not use cling film – as air needs to circulate.
  • You could use foil but you would need to prick in some air holes.
  • Place in a cool place (mine was put into my cool cellar) for a minimum of 10 days and up to 4 weeks.
  • I left mine for 2 weeks.
  • Ensure that the dough will not pick up any unwanted flavours such as onions or garlic by carefully choosing the place you store it.

After resting

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM2 – 150°C
  • Grease and line a 2 baking tins – 22 x 33 cm.
  • Take the ball of dough out of the bowl and cut it into two.
  • Flatten each piece lightly and make into a rough rectangular shape – can use a rolling pin.
  • Place this into the tim and with fingers push and press it into all the sides of the tin.
  • You can use the blunt end of a rolling pin.
  • Repeat for the other
  • Bake for around  55 -65 minutes – checking after 40 minutes and covering with greaseproof paper if it is starting to burn.
  • Leave the piernik to cool in the tin.
  • When it is cold, wrap it loosely in greaseproof paper and then a clean linen tea towel and leave in a cool place for 2 -3 days.

To serve

  • Cut each cake into two or three rectangles.
  • Remove the crusts – optional.
  • Dust with icing sugar or coat in chocolate melted with butter (40g butter : 100g dark chocolate).
  • You can use a thin white icing semi glaze instead of the chocolate.
  • You can store the piernik in an airtight tin – I think the chocolate coating helps to keep it longer.

Slices served on Queen Anne china tea plates.

 

 

 

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