This recipe is from Pani Stasia *,she and my mother were at school together. She baked wonderful cakes and everyone loved this soft cake with seedless green grapes on the top within a mound of lovely meringue.
Many years ago I jotted down the recipe and now I found it amongst my many hand written recipes.
I obviously had not written it down very well and in my first attempt, although the topping part worked very well , the bottom cake part was not as I remembered it. Part of the problem was some of the measurements were in spoons and I think my conversions did not work out that well. Also I remember that seedless grapes used to be very small, now they seem to be much bigger.
My next attempt was a disaster! I tried cutting the grapes in half (bad idea) and I adjusted the base ingredients – the base did not cook well at all this time – a big gloopy mess – straight to birds.
One of a pair of wood pigeons that come into the garden looking for cast off cake!
I decided to bake the cake base separately and add the topping later – I had a couple of goes and found that a Victoria sponge using two eggs was the best.
This method means you have 4 egg yolks left over (you can use these in many other recipe). The original recipe used the yolks in the base and the whites in the topping – sadly I could not recreate this.
100g caster sugar
100g self raising flour
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grease a 22cm loose bottomed tall sided tin.
Preheat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.
Cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy
Add the eggs and lemon rind and whisk again.
Fold in the plain flour.
Place the mixture in the tin and bake for around 25 minutes.
Leave to go cold before adding the topping.
225g seedless green grapes
4 egg whites
200g granulated sugar
2 sponge fingers – crushed
Preheat the oven to GM2 – 150°C.
Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.
Add the sugar and whisk again till stiff.
Mix in the crushed sponge fingers
Put half of the meringue mixture on top of the cake base.
Place the grapes in a layer on top of the meringue.
Put the rest of the meringue mixture on top of the grapes and smooth it down.
Bake for 1 hour – if not dry enough – lower oven to GM1- 140°C and leave for another 30 minutes.
Switch off the oven and leave cake in the oven.
Once oven is cold take out the cake and leave to cool in the tin.
Do not try to take it out of the tin until it is totally cold.
Queen Anne tea plates & Portmeirion – Crazy Daisy cake forks – Sophie Conran’s design from 2009.
Coffee set and plates – Greenway by Hostess Tableware – design by John Russell, 1960 – 1979.
Pani translates as Madam, Lady or Mrs and is a polite form of address – it is like donna in Italian or saying Miss Mary in the Southern States of America.
Stasia is the shortened form of the Polish name Stanisława. (The feminine form of Stanisław)
St Stanisław is the patron saint of Kraków & Poland, he was a martyr, murdered by the Polish king Bolesław II the Bold in 1079 – a story which has much in common with St Thomas à Beckett and the English king Henry II in 1170.
I have made it several times since as a larger version when I have had lots of my own yoghurt cheese. For this version I used Morello cherries from a jar.
You can use twaróg, curd cheese, cream cheese or yoghurt cheese, it is a bit different from my usual Polish baked cheesecake. as it does not have a cake/biscuit type base. Because of this you do need a one piece cake liner for your loose bottomed tin.
200g Caster sugar
4 eggs separated
3 tablespoons of potato flour or cornflour
150g Ground almonds
400 – 450g Twaróg , Curd cheese or Yoghurt Cheese
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
Pinch of salt
Morello cherries from a 460g net weight jar
Juice from the cherries
1 tablespoon of potato or cornflour to thicken the juice.
Line a 22cm diameter loose bottomed cake tin with a bought paper cake liner.
Preheat the oven to GM5 190°C
Drain the cherries from the juice – keep the juice for the topping.
Cream the butter and sugar until they are soft and fluffy.
Add the egg yolks one by one until you have a smooth mixture.
Add the vanilla essence and the salt and mix in.
Add the cornflour, ground almonds and the yoghurt cheese and mix together thoroughly.
Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.
Fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.
Put the cake mixture into the lined tin.
Place around half the cherries on top of the mixture.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
Turn the oven down to GM2 – 150°C and bake for around another 30 minutes.
Switch off the oven but leave the cake in there until it is cool.
Keep the cake in the refrigerator but bring to room temperature for serving.
Dust with icing sugar
Make a runny sauce from the juice heated with a tablespoon of potato flour.
Serve portions with a few cherries on the side and some of the sauce poured on or next to it.
Served here on tea plates from a coffee service by Midwinter – Queensbury from the 1970s.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Note – This 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
a little more milk might be needed
Egg white to glaze
Icing sugar to dust
Around 180g of butter
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 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.
150g dark brown sugar
Grated zest of an orange
Grated zest of a lemon
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
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.