Drożdżówka – Yeast Cake

The Polish word for yeast is drożdże and drożdżówka is any sweet cake or bun made using yeast.

Often the cake is a large flat cake ( placek) made in a large roasting tin.

This yeast cake is made with plain flour not strong flour and the mixture is mixed with a wooden spoon to form a soft mixture and is not kneaded.

My late father has two cousins living in Białystok, North East Poland, they are both wonderful cooks.

This yeast cake is based on a recipe given to me by one of these aunties.

As with any recipe made with yeast, timings are so unpredictable depending on many variables including the room temperature.

I always bake with yeast when I am at home for most of the day with other activities to do whilst waiting for the dough to rise etc.


Yeast Cake

400g plain flour

250ml of tepid milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

150g of raisins or sultanas

10g of fresh yeast or 5g of dried yeast

Crumble Topping

2 tablespoons of plain flour

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of granulated sugar


Mix the yeast with 2 tablespoons of the milk and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and leave this till it starts bubbling.

In a bowl whisk together the egg  and 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

Add the oil and whisk again.

Add the milk and the raisins or sultanas and mix well.

Add the flour and mix this all together with a wooden spoon to form a very loose, soft dough.

Cover the bowl with clingfilm or a cloth and leave in a warm place to rise.

Make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs and then stir in the sugar.

Grease and line a large roasting tin.

25cm x 34 cm or 22cm x 32cm.

Put the risen dough into the tin – use a spatula to spread it out.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top and leave to rise again.



Pre-heat the oven to  GM6 – 200°C.

Place the risen cake into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Then lower the temperature to GM5 – 190°C and bake for another 10 minutes – keeping an eye on this and cover with foil if it looks like it is burning.

You might want also want to move it down a shelf for the last 5  minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes then take it out and remove from the greaeproof paper – so it does not go soggy on the base.


Served on Sonnet by Royal Doulton, 1971 – 1998.

As with most yeast cakes this is best eaten as soon as possible as it will soon go stale – you might need to invite round lots of friends and family!

If all is not eaten on the day of baking, I cut the cake into slices and pack into a plastic container and freeze – these are then toasted and served with butter at a later date.







Toasted and buttered yeast cake served on Las Palmas by Aynsley from the 1960s.


The dried fruits added can be varied  and I have made this with raisins, mixed peel and 1 teaspoon of mixed spice.





Served on Counterpoint by Royal Doulton, 1973 – 1987.

Other dried fruit options can be used, such as apricots, cranberries, pears or prunes and so on,  chopping larger fruits into small pieces.

I made this with apricots, sultanas and a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence.


The dried fruits add sweetness to the cake and I think the small amount of sugar works well – you can if you like add a few extra tablespoons of sugar.





Karpatka – Carpathian Mountain Cake

Karpatka – Carpathian Mountain Cake  – gets its name as the top looks like the rugged mountains and the icing sugar dusting looks like a fine covering of snow.

The Carpathian Mountains – Karpaty in Polish –  are a mountain range in an arc roughly 1,500 kilometres in central and eastern Europe; part of the range is in Southern Poland  and can be described as Alpine.



It is made with 2 layers of  choux pastry with vanilla pastry cream in between the layers and the top dusted with icing sugar.

Choux Pastry

This was invented by an Italian chef in the mid 16th century and soon became popular in France.  It gets its name from the French for cabbage as the little buns made from this pastry  looked like little cabbages.

It is made without any raising agent. It is the large water content in the dough which turns to steam in the high oven temperature which causes the pastry to rise.

I read loads of conflicting advice on how to make choux pastry. 

My first attempt came out more like a Yorkshire pudding.

After several attempts I  now have a recipe that works.


6 eggs

300ml of water

2 teaspoon of granulated sugar

200 g of plain flour or strong plain flour *

100g butter

pinch of salt

*Using strong flour gives a drier pastry whilst using plain flour gives a softer pastry.


Pre-heat the oven to GM6 200°C

Grease 2 equal sized rectangular baking trays with sides or a large rectangular tin.

Put the water, pinch of salt, sugar  and the butter into a saucepan.

Heat gently so the butter melts and then slowly bring this to the boil.



Sift the flour.

Taking the pan off the heat add the flour, all in one go.

Return the pan to a gentle heat.

Using a wooden spoon blend this all  together until the dough forms a ball in the middle of the pan.








Take the pan off the heat and put the dough into a bowl and leave till it is completely cold.

Add the eggs one by one, continually blending the mixture. You can use a wooden spoon to do this – I have found it easier to start with an electric whisk to begin with and then cahnge to a wooden spoon at the end.  You get a thick paste type mixture.



Divide the mixture between the two trays and spread it out to fill the tray – do not smooth down the top – you want to have rough peaks.

Bake for  10 minutes.

Increase the heat up GM7 and bake for another 10 minutes

Using a cake tester make holes in the top of the pastry to remove some of the steam.

Bake for another 5 – 10 minutes.

The pastry should be ready now, test to see if it feels dry – if not return for a few more minutes.

Vanilla Pastry Cream


Budyń made with 500ml of milk. (see previous post)

3 tablespoons  of granulated sugar

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

1 egg yolk

125g butter


Cream together the butter, sugar and egg yolk till pale and fluffy.

Add the vanilla essence and mix this in well.

Add the budyń, spoonful by spoonful, mixing it well in.

Assembling the Cake


Whilst testing this recipe, I used half quantities of the choux pastry – ie just 1 tray – and cut this in half – the photographs – reflect this.

Great Cake Lifter






Place one piece of the baked pastry onto a serving board.

Cover the pastry with all the  pastry cream spreading it evenly  to the edges.

Place the second piece of pastry on top.

Dust the top lightly with icing sugar.

Cut into squares to serve.


Served on Las Palmas by Aynsley  from the 1960s.

Easier Option

Though not as authentic but easier you can just use the chilled budyń on its own as the filling.

Served here on  Greenaway by John Russell from the 1960s.



Placek with Cranberries, Chocolate & Nuts

After Christmas I found  I had lots of dried cranberries & nuts left from other recipes.

So I decided to make a variation on my placek (flat cake) with chocolate, nuts & sultanas


120g butter or block margarine

120g Demerara sugar

2 eggs

120g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

100g dried cranberries

100g chopped chocolate (a mixture of dark & white)

80g chopped nuts


Grease and line a 21 x 26 cms baking tray.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Chop the nuts and the chocolate.

Mix the nuts, chocolate & cranberries together.

Cream together the butter and Demerera sugar.

Mix in the vanilla essence and the eggs.

Mix in the nut mixture.

Gently fold in the flour.

Put the mixture into a baking tray.






Bake for around 30 – 35 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into squares to serve.



Served on Queen Anne teaplates – design name unkown.

Lemon Cream Roulade

This cake is a roulade – in Polish  – rolada.

I made this cake for my nephew when he came to visit recently as he loves cakes with lemons.

You need to make the sponge for a “Swiss roll” and then fill it with lemon cream.

The sponge cake made using potato flour is very Polish but fresh double cream is not usually found in Polish cookery – soured cream is the norm.  Also lemon curd I think of as quite British although I did come across something similar in one of my Polish cooks books.   You can make your own lemon curd but I  use Sicilian lemon curd from Marks & Spencer as I think this is so lemony.


I made the sponge using the recipe  Biszkopt – Sponge Cake using Potato Flour

Or to be easier, use the English Style fat free sponge recipe from

Sponge with Sweet Orange Jam

Use the instructions for how to make and roll the roulade from the first recipe.

Both of  these recipes use 2 eggs.

Lemon Cream

I used a large tub of double cream 250ml/300ml – it was more than enough – I did not use it all.

I would think that 200ml of double cream would be enough.

I  whisked this up till it was thick and stiff.

I then added 3 -4 tablespoons of lemon curd and whisked again.

Unroll the cold sponge, spread it with the cream and roll up again.

Dredge with icing sugar


Cake Plate H & K Tunstall



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






Lemon Drizzle Cake

This is not a Polish recipe but my nephew loves cakes with lemons and after trying many versions this is the one I baked for him especially when he came to visit recently.  I will be sticking with this recipe from now on.



175g butter or block margarine

175g caster sugar

3 eggs

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

160g self-raising  flour


Juice of 1 lemon

110g caster sugar


Grease and line a large (2lb) loaf tin – or use a ready bought liner.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180oC

Cream the butter and sugar till soft and fluffy

Add the lemon zest and mix again.

Add the eggs, 1 by 1, and mix well.

Add the juice of 1 lemon and mix well.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon.

Put the mixture into the loaf tin and gently level the top.


Bake for around 50 – 60 minutes – check after 40 minutes and cover the top with greaseproof paper if needed to prevent the top burning.

Leave to cool slightly in the tin and then remove and place on a cake rack and allow to cool a little more.

Prepare the drizzle by mixing the sugar and lemon juice until it dissolves.

Remove the greaseproof paper or liner and place the cake onto a plate (a long rectangular one with a lip around the side is the best ) so that the base is flat and excess drizzle does not run off.

Prick the top of the cake with a skewer

Gently spoon all the drizzle over the top of the cake

















Placek with Chocolate, Nuts & Sultanas

I have been making this placek (low flat cake) for years but I cannot remember where I got the recipes from.

The cake varies every time I make it as I alter the type or amount of each chocolate used and I also alter the dried fruit and nuts.

It is not quite a Polish recipe as  Demerara sugar is used rather than granulated & this is not a typical Polish ingredient.


Sugar is produced from either sugar cane (a perennial grass) or sugar beet (a tap root).  When sugar cane is refined you get lots of partially refined products such as: treacle, golden syrup, Demerara sugar & various other brown sugars.

Demerara sugar is so named after a region in Guyana where it was first produced.

When sugar beet is used to make sugar you do not get all these brown sugars.

In Poland the main sugar products on sale are granulated sugar and icing sugar, also you can find vanilla sugar, for baking, which is sold in little sachet which contain one tablespoon of sugar.


120g butter or block margarine

120g Demerara sugar

2 eggs

120g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

100g chopped chocolate (can be a mixture of dark, milk & white)

100g chopped nuts

80g sultanas (or currants or raisins)


I think dried cranberries might work well here  but have not tried these as yet.


Grease and line a 21 x 26 cms baking tray.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Chop the nuts and the chocolate.

Mix the nuts, chocolate & sultanas together.



Cream together the butter and Demerera sugar.

Mix in the vanilla essence and the eggs.

Mix in the nut mixture.

Gently fold in the flour.

Put the mixture into a baking tray.

Bake for around 30 – 35 minutes.



Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into squares to serve.


Served on Royal Grafton – Woodside – 1950s







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


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.


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.


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.