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
- 300g plain flour
- 225g butter
- 1 egg
- 2 yolks
- 4 tablespoons of soured cream
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
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 mixture – using 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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
The base of this placek (flat cake) is made with a recipe similar to Ciasto kruche 2 – with cooked egg yolks found in a previous post – Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche.
The base is baked, apricot jam and bottled sour cherries are placed on top, this is topped with meringue and cooked again.
A few stages but well worth the effort. It is delicious with a lovely balance of sweetness against the sour cherries.
- 300g plain flour
- 200g butter – chilled
- 100g & 150g icing sugar
- 3 eggs separated
- pinch or two of salt
- Fine grated rind of 1 lemon – optional
- 250ml of apricot jam – approx
- 1/2 – 3/4 of a jar of morello/sour cherries
Cook the egg yolks
- Separate the raw yolks from the whites.
- Place the yolks in a colander and cook over hot water.
- Use a fork to break up the yolks into very small pieces.
- Leave to go cold.
Make the 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 100g of icing sugar and mix this together.
- Add the broken up 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.
- Pre-heat the oven to GM 7 – 220°C.
- Grease and line a 33 x 23 cm baking tin.
- Use a rolling pin to flatten the dough a little
- Press the dough into the tin – filling it up the all the sides.
- Prick the surface with a fork.
- Bake for 20 – 25 minutes till golden.
- Leave to cool.
Toppings and meringue
- Lower the oven to GM 1 -140°C
- Place the whites into a grease free bowl.
- Whisk till stiff.
- Add the 150g of icing sugar and whisk again till stiff.
- Spread the jam thickly over the base
- Drain the sour cherries and pat them dry.
- Arrange the cherries over the jam.
- Spread the meringue over the cherries taking it up to the edges.
- Put back into the low heat oven for 45 to 60 minutes.
Cut the cake into squares when cool to serve.
Served here on Duchess – Bramble Rose tea plates from the 1960s.
Eierkoeken – Egg Cookies – are very popular in The Netherlands – their recent revival was caused I heard by Sonja Bakker – a celebrity cook.
Koekje is a small cake and the origin of the word cookie.
They are sold in bakers and supermarkets in packets of five or six and even up to ten.
They are soft little cakes rather like English sponge drops.
The mixture is a fat free sponge similar to Polish biszkopt.
They are so easy to make, especially if you have an electric hand whisk.
This two egg recipe makes six.
- 2 eggs
- 90g caster sugar
- 120g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 190°C.
- Line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
- Mix the flour and baking powder together.
- Whisk the eggs and sugar till they are white and fluffy.
- Fold in the flour.
- Place 6 circles of mixture on the baking tray.
- Bake for around 15 minutes till golden – not much longer as they will be harder – they need to be soft.
Served on Lavender plates by Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands
Add the grated rind of a lemon to the egg and sugar mixture – a subtle addition to the flavour.
This cake using sunflower oil and yoghurt has a really good texture and reminds me of English Madeira cake, which was invented in the mid 19th Century taking its name from the Portuguese Madeira wine with which this cake was often served.
It started out in my hunt to make a cake using lemon balm – (melisa in Polish) which grows abundantly in my garden. Sadly none of the cakes I made captured its taste at all!
However I adapted this recipe to make an orange cake and the result is delicious.
Short History of Oranges
Oranges originated in Ancient China and sweet oranges are recorded in Chinese literature in very early times.
They are thought to have been brought by Italian and Portuguese traders to the Mediterranean area in the 15th century.
The name is of Middle Eastern origin:
- Arabic – nāranj
- Persian – narang
- French – l’orange
- Italian – arancia
- Portuguese – laranja
- Spanish – naranja
- Polish – pomarańcz
- Whilst in Dutch it is – sinaasappel – meaning Chinese apple.
Oranges in Poland were very expensive before World War 2 and my mother would tell me that at St Nicholas and Christmas time an orange or a tangerine would be a common gift.
Christopher Columbus took oranges to the Caribbean on his second voyage in 1493.
Later, Spanish settlers introduced orange plants to North America, first to Florida and then to California.
Figures from 2017 show Brazil as being the largest orange producer in the world with the United States of America coming second and Florida produces 70% of that country’s oranges.
- 85- 90ml of Greek yoghurt (full fat is best)
- 2 large oranges – finely grated rind & juice (not all will be needed)
- 125ml of orange juice
- 180g of caster sugar
- 320g of plain flour
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 170ml of sunflower oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
- Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C.
- Finely grate the rind of the oranges.
- Squeeze the juice from the oranges (you will not need all of it).
- Mix the yoghurt with 125ml of the orange juice.
- Prepare a 23cm loose bottom or spring form tin with a cake liner.
- In a bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, oil and orange rind.
- Add the eggs and whisk again.
- Lightly mix in the flour.
- Mix in the lemon juice.
- Mix in the yoghurt and orange juice mixture to give a thick batter.
- Pour into the cake tin.
- Bake for 30 – 35 minutes (check after 25 minutes and cover the top lightly if necessary).
Served on Duchess – Bramble Rose – tea-plates from the 1960s.
As I have rhubarb growing in the garden I am always on the lookout for recipes for rhubarb cakes and have tried many from English, American & Polish recipe books and magazines.
Some recipes just used 1 or 2 stalks of rhubarb – as I have lots of rhubarb – I wanted a recipe that used more.
I was talking with my old school friend who lives in Leeds and she told me her husband makes a lovely rhubarb cake with the rhubarb they have growing on their allotment.
So, I tried it out and it was indeed lovely!
- 340g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 170g butter
- 230g caster sugar
- 450g rhubarb, chopped into small cubes
- 230g stoned dates, chopped into small pieces
- 2 eggs
- 120ml milk (either whole or semi skimmed)
- Optional – extra sugar to sprinkle on top – (I would not bother with this next time)
- Preheat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C
- Line the base of a 26cm round spring-form or loose bottomed tin with baking paper. (You can use a 23cm tin)
- Place the chopped rhubarb and dates into a bowl.
- Place the flour and baking powder into another bowl.
- Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour using your fingertips until you have a mixture that resembles breadcrumbs.
- Stir in the sugar.
- Stir the chopped rhubarb and dates into the mixture.
- Combine the eggs and milk in a jug and beat a little.
- Stir into the cake mix until well combined.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared cake tin and level the surface.
- If using, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar on the top of the cake.
- Bake for approximately 1 – 1 & 1/4 hours or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean – best check on it after an hour and cover top if necessary to prevent burning.
- Leave to cool on a wire rack until the tin is cool enough to safely handle.
- Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely on the wire rack
Although the cake keeps well, I think it is best eaten when fresh as then the rhubarb taste is strong and the cake delicious.
Crown china tea plates – no pattern named.
The rhubarb season is now over in my garden as it has just past July – next year I am going to try some variations on this cake eg – without the dates or with raisins etc.