Madeleine Cakes

I was in Marks & Spencer’s and saw these lovely tins and thought   “I must try these“.

I bought 2 tins and then the following week I got another and after trying out some recipes I bought a 4th.

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Madeleines are very small sponge cakes baked in tins with shell-shaped depressions.

Of course you can make then in small bun tins if you want to see if you like them before investing in the tins.

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They originated from the Lorraine region in France.

When looking for recipes I thought that these did not have a Polish connection but in fact they do!

The exiled king of Poland, Stanisław  Leszczyński (1677 – 1766), was the Duke of Lorraine from 1737 -1766  and his daughter Maria was married to Louis XV of France.

Madeleine Paulmier was the cook for the exiled king and the story goes that these little cakes were named after her.

Marcel Proust  (1871 – 1922) the French author described them as “a little shell of a cake, so generously sensual beneath the piety of its stern pleating…” in his book  À la recherche du temps perdu  – In Search of Lost Time.

I have tried out many different recipes all with varying  quantities – my head was spinning trying to sort them all out.

The following three are I ones I liked best.

They are all based on variations of the Genoise Sponge in which you use melted butter.

For ALL the recipes you must grease the tins well – I have found that using melted butter & a pastry brush is very effective.

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Madeleines 1

This mixture made over 30 Madeleines.

Ingredients

65g Butter (plus extra for greasing the pans)

65g Icing sugar

2 eggs

65g Self-raising flour

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Grease the tins.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180ºC

In a small pan melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the icing sugar, eggs and vanilla essence together until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Gently fold in the self-raising flour using a metal spoon.

Gently fold in the melted butter using a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture between the tins.

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Bake for around 10minutes till golden.

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Leave them to cool slightly in the tins and then remove them onto a wire rack.

Dredge them liberally with icing sugar.

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Madeleines  2 – With Ground Almonds

This mixture made around 30 Madeleines

Ingredients

65g Butter (plus extra for greasing the pans)

65g Icing sugar

2 eggs

65g Self-raising flour

65g Ground almonds

2-3 drops of vanilla or almond essence.

Method

Grease the tins.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180ºC

In a small pan melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the icing sugar, eggs and vanilla or almond essence together until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Mix the self-raising flour and ground almonds together.

Gently  fold in the flour and almond mixture using a metal spoon.

Gently fold in the melted butter using a metal spoon.

Divide the mixture between the pans.

Bake for around 10 minutes till golden

Leave them to cool slightly in the tins and then remove them onto a wire rack.

Dredge them liberally with icing sugar.

Madeleines  3 – With Ground Almonds & Honey

This recipe is based on a updated recipe from Mrs Beeton  in  How To Cook – 220 Classic Recipes For The Modern Kitchen – 2011.

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This mixture made 36 Madeleines.

Ingredients

120g butter (plus extra for greasing the pans)

50g runny honey

3 eggs

100g caster sugar

100g self raising flour

25g ground almonds.

Method

Place the butter in a small pan to melt over a medium-high heat and allow it to cook until it starts to brown lightly.

Remove then pan from from the heat and add the honey and stir it in well.

Leave the mixture to cool slightly.

Whisk the icing sugar and eggs together until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Mix the self-raising flour and ground almonds together.

Gently  fold in the flour and almond mixture using a metal spoon.

 

Gently fold in the cooled  butter and honey mixture using a metal spoon until fully incorporated.

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Cover and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Grease the tins.

Divide the mixture between the tins.

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Let them rest for 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to GM3- 160ºC

Bake for around 10 minutes till golden.

Keep an eye on them as the honey in them tends to brown quickly.

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Leave them to cool slightly in the tins and then remove them onto a wire rack.

Dredge them liberally with icing sugar.

Rhubarb Cake

Rheum rhabarbarum is the Latin name for rhubarb   –  in Polish  it is rabarbar.

It is a plant that has its origins in China, Mongolia & Siberia – its roots survive the cold!

Rhubarb roots have been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

The plant arrived in Europe via Venice in the 14th century  having been brought  from China  along the Silk Road.

The leaves are poisonous  to humans as they contain large quantities of oxalic acid and other toxins.

The stems however can be eaten safely, although they do contain a little oxalic acid but their tartness is due mainly  to malic acid which is also found in sour green apples.

Rhubarb stems were first eaten in England in the 17th century.

In 1820 the rhubarb plant was taken over to the USA.

I live in West Yorkshire –  just outside what is called the Rhubarb Triangle  of Wakefield, Leeds & Morley   – where rhubarb is grown in forcing sheds (in darkness) on a commercial scale.

I have rhubarb growing in my garden.

I have used the rhubarb to make rhubarb crumble but over the last few years I have been trying to find recipes for a rhubarb cake 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.

Some recipes used the raw stalks in a cake – I found that none of these were to my liking.

I tried using my best Polish apple cake recipe with stewed rhubarb  instead of apple but found that it just did not come out very well.  The cake was  too soggy and raw in places because of the amount of liquid in the stewed rhubarb.

Finally after more trial and error – I came up with a recipe which I am happy to make for people and to share.

Preparing The Rhubarb

This I have found to be the most important part to making a successful rhubarb cake.

You need to prepare the rhubarb the day before you want to make cake.

I tend to make a large amount and if I do not use it all I freeze the rest.

You need around 8 large stalks if not more.

Trim the ends of the rhubarb stalks and then chop the stalk  into pieces around 7cm in length.

Put the pieces into an oven proof dish and add granulated sugar – try not to use large amounts – it is better slightly tart.

Put the covered dish into a low oven –  GM 2 for around an hour or so – you want it soft but not totally disintegrated.

Allow this to cool.

 

 

Now comes the part I found to be the most important – I strain the cooked rhubarb from the juice & syrup.

Put the rhubarb into a colander over a bowl and leave this for several hours or even overnight.

 

The juice and sugar syrup can  be used to flavour yoghurt, diluted with water to make  a drink or even added to pork in a slow cook recipe.

Now by just using this strained rhubarb  I have found that a cake adapted from my apple cake comes out very well.  I have used half the quantity from my apple cake recipe as the base and then used a drier crumble type mixture – called kruszonka in Polish – for the top.

Cake Ingredients

Base

150g self raising flour

100g butter or block margarine

40g caster sugar

1 egg yolk and 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or water.

Topping

120g plain flour

90g butter or block margarine

60g icing sugar.

Method

You have to use a loose bottom or spring-form tin or you will not be able to get the cake out.

I use a loose bottomed anodised aluminium cake tin which is 22cm in diameter and 8cm deep.

Grease the tin well.

First make the cake base by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs then stir in the sugar.

Add the yolk and lemon juice and bring the ingredients together to form a soft dough – do not handle the dough too much. Leave the dough in a cool place for about half an hour so it is easier to handle.

Pre heat the oven to GM 4 – 180ºC.

Make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs and then stir in the sugar.

Press the dough into the base of the tin.

 

Cover the base with the strained rhubarb.

Evenly sprinkle all the topping over the rhubarb.

Bake in the oven for around 1 hour to 1 hour & 10 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin.

Use a long metal spatula to ease the cake from the side of the tin then place the cake on to the top of a  tin can and slide the side down.

If you find the cake is not sweet enough – you can sprinkle the pieces  with icing sugar – I rarely due – I like the fruit to be tart.

 

Tea plates are Counterpoint by Royal Doulton 1973 – 1987

Do not put the cake into an airtight plastic box as it will get soggy – better to cover it with a mesh cover.

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Polish Apple Cake – Jabłecznik

Apple trees (Genus –  Malus) originated in Central Asia and then spread to Northern Europe.  In the 17th century they were taken to North America.

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Apple Blossom Buds

Worldwide, measured in tonnes, China is the top apple producer, the United States of America coming second.

Poland is the largest apple producer in Europe.

In Poland in the countryside and even in the towns most houses have at least one fruit tree in the garden – often more – with apple, plum and cherry  being the favourites.

 

In my garden there are two Bramley apple trees.

Jabłko is the Polish for apple –  jabłecznik is an apple cake.

Some people use the word szarlotka – but my mother used that word for apple crumble.

Apple cake is made with tart cooking apples – Antonówki are very popular in Poland –  these are similar to Bramley apples and the apple filling is kept slightly tart so that the sweetness in the cake gives a lovely contrast.

I think there are as many variations of this cake as cooks in Poland.

This is my mother’s version which I think this is the very best.

Apple Filling – Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 Bramley Apples
  • Granulated Sugar to taste – keep it slightly tart
  • A little water
  • 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of ground cinnamon

Method

  • Make the apple filling first, even the day beforehand as it needs to be cold before you use it.
  • Peel and core the apples and cut them into thick slices.
  • Stew the apples gently with some sugar and very little water. You can make this in a saucepan on the stove or place the apples and sugar in a dish in the oven.
  • Do not add a lot of sugar at the beginning as it does not want to be too sweet, you can adjust the sweetness at the end.
  • Do not make it too much of a purée, cook so that you have some soft apples but with some harder less cooked chunks as well.
  • Leave the mixture to cool and then add the ground cinnamon.  The mixture should look quite brown.

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Note

When I have lots of apples, I cook a large amount and portion this up and keep them in the freezer – better to leave out the cinnamon if freezing and add this fresh when making the cake.

Cake – Ingredients

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 200g butter
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk (save the white for the topping)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of lemon juice or water

    Method

  • You need a round tin with a loose base or a spring form tin or you will not be able to get the cake out.  I always use an anodised aluminium tin, 22cm in diameter and 8 cm deep, which does not rust.
  • Grease the tin well.
  • Rub the butter into the flour to make fine crumbs and add the sugar.

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  • Add the egg yolk and the lemon juice to and mix together to make a soft “dough” (try not to add more flour),  handle it as little as possible.
  • Leave it to chill for about ½ an hour as this makes it easier to handle.
  • Pre heat the oven to GM5 – 190oC.
  • Take slightly more than half the dough and press it into the cake tin.

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  • Spoon the apple mixture on top of this.
  • The rest of the dough will go on top of the apple mixture.
  • I use a rolling pin to make a circle that is smaller than the tin diameter and then place this on top.
  • Do not worry if the dough falls apart, just place it on with the breaks nearly touching.

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Topping – Ingredients

  • 1 egg white and caster sugar
  • Slightly beat the egg white with a fork and brush this over the top of the dough.  You will not need it all.

 

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  • Liberally sprinkle caster sugar over the egg white.
  • Bake for around 50 minutes until the top is a golden brown.
  • I tend to check the cake at 40 minutes and will cover the top with greaseproof if it starts to brown but is not yet cooked through.
  • Leave to cool before getting the cake out of the tin.
  • I use a tin can and put the cake tin on this and slide the side of the cake tin down.
  • Do not put the cake in a air-tight covered container as the apples absorb moisture and you loose the crispness of the cake.
  • I hardly ever have any left anyway as I seem to get visitors as soon as they know I am baking this cake.

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Tea plates are Stardust by Colclough from the 1950s or early 1960s.

NoteI updated this in March 2020 – I altered the amount of apples in the filling.

Babka – Polish Cake – Using Potato Flour

Potato flour is used in many Polish recipes for a variety of cakes.

This recipe is for a babka (click here for earlier post) using a mixture of wheat flour and potato flour and is adapted from a recipe in my old Polish cookery book.

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Kuchnia Polska - Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery
Kuchnia Polska – Polish Kitchen  – Polish Cookery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the past potato flour was hard to find in England but now you should be able to find it in most Polish shops.

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Potato Flour

One of my Polish friends in England said she had tried using cornflour in baking when she could not get  potato flour but she did not think it gave as good results.

Recently in a repeated radio programme on BBC Radio 4 Extra I heard the late Marguerite Patten  say  that cooks in Victorian England  used potato flour in cake baking on a regular basis.

 Ingredients

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g potato flour

200g butter or block margarine

4 eggs separated

200g icing sugar

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 to 4 tablespoons of  soured cream or yoghurt – Full Fat-Greek style or home-made Yoghurt – click for earlier post)

(I have made this recipe with soured cream and then with my own yoghurt – both turned our super)

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Fine Grater – Microplane Graters are Super For Lemon Zest.

Microplane Professional Series

Method

Grease and flour a large babka tin.

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Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Mix the flours together with the baking powder and leave to one side.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the icing sugar until the mixture is pale and fluffy.

Beat in the egg yolks – one by one.

Then beat in the lemon zest and juice.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs white until they are stiff.

Fold the egg whites into the creamed mixture.

Gently fold the whites in the flour mixture.

Place the mixture into the prepared babka tin.

Place the tin in the centre of the oven and bake for around 30 – 40 minutes.

Check with a cake tester.

Remove from the oven and let the cake cool a little.

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When cooled –  remove carefully from the tin – this is easiest when the cake is nearly cold.

Dust the cake with icing sugar or pour over it a runny icing glaze.

 

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Silver Rose – Duchess 1950s & 1960s

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instructions for those who do not have a babka tin

At the moment (February 2016) Marks & Spencer are selling babka tins at a reasonable price – I bought one to add to my collection!

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Tin from Marks & Spencer

However if you do not want to go to the expensive but want to try out the cake I have made the cake using 2 types of loaf tins with good results

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First using a long narrow tin

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and secondly a 2lb loaf tin.

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You need to grease and line the tins or use loaf tin liners – I discovered these recently and think they are a boon. You can get them in 2 loaf sizes.  They are available in many stores but also you should also be able to find them in the cheaper discount stores.

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The cake takes 40 -45 minutes in a pre-heated oven at GM4 – 180°C

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Dust the top with icing sugar

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Colclough Longton Bone China ..... Around 1930s
Colclough Longton Bone China …..
Around 1930s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babka and Babeczki

A babka is a large cake and babeczki are small cakes.

For a general description on what a babka is  –  read my post – Babka.

The following cakes have been made using a creamed sponge mixture –using my mother’s friend’s basic recipe for a creamed sponge.

In this recipe you weigh the eggs in their shells and then use the same weights of butter (or block margarine), caster sugar and self raising flour.

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Weighing eggs

 

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Silver Tin at the front was used.

Marbled Babka

Pre-heat the over to GM4 – 180°C

Grease and flour the tin.

For this babka, 4 eggs were used.

After making the cake mixture, half the mixture was placed in the tin and to the rest 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder was added and lightly folded in. This cocoa mixture was then placed on top of the plain mixture and with a metal spoon lightly mix the two to give a marbling effect.

Bake the cake for 35 to 40minutes.

When the cake is ready, leave it to cool completely before turning it out of the tin.

 

 

The babka can be dusted with icing sugar or  you can use a chocolate glaze and allow this to dribble down the grooves.

Medium babeczki

I bought these tins a few years ago in Lidl.

You might be able to find find smaller babka tins like those in the photograph below. (I bought these many years ago in France – sold there as brioche tins).

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Grease and flour the tins.

I used 3 eggs to make these 6 babeczki with the addition of 75g of currants (25g per egg)

Bake these in a pre-heated oven a GM4 – 180°C for around 25 minutes.

Wait till the cakes are cool before turning them out.

You can dust them with icing sugar or drizzle a thin lemon icing over them.

I think the size of these makes them ideal for sharing!

Small babeczki

I bought these small mini bundt tins from Marks & Spencer in January 2016.

They are a good size for an individual small cake (of course you can always have two!)

Grease and flour the tins.

Bake these in a pre-heated oven at GM4 – 180°C for around 20 minutes.

I used a 2 egg mixture with the addition of one and a half tablespoons of cocoa powder for the marbling.

This mixture made  9 cakes. (If you use a 3 egg mixture and 2 tablespoons of cocoa and fill the moulds a little more you should get 12 cakes – I have yet to try this amount.)

Wait till the cakes are cool before turning them out.

Then dust them with icing sugar before serving.

 

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Yeast Babka – Polish Yeast Cake

Babka is the name of a Polish cake. The name means grandmother and it is thought to refer to the the shape of the cake which is round and dumpy or tall and tapered and looks like the full and pleated skirts found in Polish costumes.

A yeast babka  is a classic Polish cake. It is usually made  with the addition of some dried fruits or peel.

A yeast babka is traditional for Easter Sunday.

My mother never had much success with making yeast cakes and so abandoned the process.

In the past I have tried to make a yeast babka also without much success.

Once I started writing this blog I went back to my old Polish cookery book – “my bible”

Kuchnia Polska – Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery – 15th edition published in 1971.

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Book title

I used one of the recipes from this book and the result was wonderful!

I have now realised where I was going wrong:

I had been treating this cake as if I was making bread and in fact the technique is quite different.

  1. You have to use ordinary plain flour not strong flour.
  2. The mixture is a batter – you do not knead it.
  3. You have to have lots of patience – the yeast can take hours and hours to rise.
  4. The yeast will rise even in a coldish kitchen – it just takes a long time – even overnight or in the fridge.

Note

I used dried yeast for this recipe as that is easier for me and nearer to using fresh yeast.

I am sure you can adapt this to use the quick action yeast although I have not tried this myself.

Ingredients

Starter

100g plain flour

250 ml of milk

50g of fresh yeast or 25g of dried yeast

25g of granulated sugar

Rest of cake

5 egg yolks

150g of granulated sugar

400g of plain flour

pinch of salt

2 drops of vanilla essence

100g of melted butter or margarine

50g of raisins or sultanas

Method

First make the starter

Mix toIMG_20151210_072305828gether the yeast and sugar.

Add this to the milk and flour.

Leave in to bubble and rise to around double its size.

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Grease and flour a babka tin

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Pre-heat the oven to GM5

Place the egg yolks and the sugar in a bowl and whisk until they are pale and creamy.

Add the rest of the flour, the risen starter, the pinch of salt and the drops of vanilla essence and mix it all together.

Add the melted butter a little at a time, mixing it in after each addition.

Add the raisins or sultanas and mix them well in so you have a unified mixture.

Place the mixture in the prepared tin – it should fill around a 1/3rd of the tin.

Cover the tin with a clean tea towel and leave the mixture to rise  and nearly fill the tin.

This can take several hours.

Bake in the oven for around 40 to 45 minutes.

Leave to cool and then carefully remove out of the tin.

Dust with icing sugar.

The  tea plates are Greenway Hostess designed by John Russell 1960 – 1979.

Easter babka

The babka for Easter is normally glazed with a thin icing made with lemon juice & icing sugar or instead of lemon juice you can use vanilla essence and a little water or you can use rum.

Also prior to this glaze you can make a poncz (this word originates from the English word punch) and drizzle this over the babka.

A rum poncz can be made from around 150ml of weak black tea, 45 ml of rum, 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated  sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.  These are mixed together until the sugar has dissolved. (You can use tepid tea to dissolve the sugar but not too hot to evaporate the rum.)

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Weak Black Tea

A lemon poncz can be make from the juice of a lemon and around 2 tablespoons of icing sugar.

A yeast cake which is fresh will not absorb as much of the liquid poncz, so if you have time you can made this the day before you want add the poncz or wait for several hours at least.

I am hoping to make a yeast babka for Easter with a glaze and will include photos of this in my post for Easter.

Babka

Babka is the name of a Polish cake.

Babka 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

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There are references to this cake in Poland in the early 18 century.

The early cakes will have been yeast cakes.

Later cakes were creamed sponge cakes and  then marbled (usually with cocoa powder) cakes  became very popular.

Yeast cakes are glazed with either warmed honey, a sugar and lemon glaze or poncz (derived from the English word – punch) which is a  sweetened syrup made with tea and rum.

At Easter a yeast babka is very traditional and it would also be covered in a thin icing glaze.

A creamed sponge babka  can be  made with wheat flour or a mixture of potato flour and  wheat flour.

Dried fruit such as currants, sultanas, raisins or candied peel can be added – just small amounts – this is not a heavy fruit cake!

Many are also iced or glazed with  a lemon or vanilla icing

The marbled cakes  are often coated with a runny  chocolate icing which is allowed to run down from the top.

Assorted Babka Tins

 

Yeast Babka with Raisins – Dusted with Icing Sugar

 

Creamed Sponge Babka

 

Marbled Babka

In other parts of Europe there are similar cakes such as Gugelhopf or Kugelhopf in southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland  and Bundkuchen in Northern Germany.

In Italy there is the panetonne – the name for this in Polish is włoska babka which means Italian babka.

In the 1950s Nordic Ware in the USA produced a tin which they trademarked as a Bundt  tin.

It is thought the name comes from a  Bundkuchen   – a cake for a large gathering in Northern Germany.

Babecki – small Babka cakes

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Babecki – made in a new tin from Marks & Spencer – which they call a 12 cup mini Bundt tray.

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The origin of baba au rhum or rum baba 

Legend has it that when Stanisław Leszczyński   (1677-1766) the exiled King of Poland was living in Lorraine in France (He was made Duke of Lorraine and Bar for his lifetime) he had acquired some (yeast) babka which turned out to be very dry. His pastry chef revived it by soaking it in a sugary rum liquid (very like the poncz they use in Poland). This became the start of baba au rhum in France. These  are usually done as small individual cakes nowadays. note

Dry babka will soak up more liquid than a freshly baked one – so if you are making this it is better to use cake at least a day old.

 Savarin

The savarin was invented in Paris in 1844 and was inspired by the baba au rhum but it is large cake made in a circular(ring) tin. In the centre it usually has fruit in syrup and whipped cream (this is not used in Polish cookery).

Recipes to Follow

Future posts are coming up shortly with recipes for the various types of babka – look out for these!

 

 

 

 

How Did My Sponge Become Sandy?

In Polish the word for a fat free sponge cake which is made with just eggs, sugar and flour is  biszkopt.

A sponge cake which uses butter or margarine which is creamed with the sugar is described as piaskowy – this adjective means sandy – hence the title of this post!

I have not managed to find an explanation as to why it is so described  but have found this term in all my Polish cookery books.

Pani Stasia’s Sponge Cake

This is a recipe which I learnt from my mother’s friend who we knew as pani Stasia*.

Pani Stasia made wonderful cakes but unfortunately I did not write many of them down – however I did for this one and it is the basis for many of my other cakes and buns.

This recipe is equivalent to the British cake –  Victoria Sponge – named after Queen Victoria in whose reign this became popular & who is said to have liked this cake very much.

Having been looking at recipes in my Polish cookery cooks I realise that pani Stasia adapted this recipe for England as self raising flour and caster sugar are not found in Polish shops.

(*Pani  translates as Madam, Lady or Mrs and is a polite form of address – it is like donna in Italian or for example  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).

Ingredients

Eggs

Butter or Block Baking Margarine

Caster Sugar

Self Raising Flour

I usually use 3 or 4 eggs for this recipe – in the photographs below I have used 4 eggs to make 2 cakes which were then sandwiched together with jam and white chocolate butter cream.

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Method

Grease and line the base of 2 x 21.5cm  sandwich tins. – I find anodised aluminium tins are the best. (my old tins say 8 1/2 inch on the base – 21cm or 22cm would be OK)

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°c

The first thing you have to do is weigh your eggs – complete with their shells.

Weighing Eggs

You then weigh out the same amount of  butter or block margarine, caster sugar and self raising flour.

At first I thought this was very strange but now find that it gives a very good way of getting the right proportions no matter what size the eggs are.

I heard the late Marguerite Patten in an earlier recorded programme on the radio a few weeks ago saying that Victorian cooks often  used this method. 

Cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one by one whisking again until the the mixture is light and fluffy again.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon taking not to over mix the mixture and knock out all the air.

Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 prepared tins.

Bake in the centre of the oven for around 25 to 30 minutes  – the cake should  be golden brown and be clean when a cake tester is used.

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Cakes cooling awaiting being sandwiched together

This cake is very versatile and here I have sandwiched it together with blackcurrant jam (given to me by my friend who had made it with fruit from her allotment) and white chocolate butter cream.

Sweet whipped cream is not found in Polish cookery – butter creams and similar are the standard fillings for layer cakes.

On the bottom cake first spread on the jam and then top this with the butter cream.

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This butter cream is sweet and needs the contrast of a tart jam, damson jam would be another alternative.

White Chocolate Butter Cream

Ingredients

60g White chocolate

40g Butter – unsalted is best

80g Sieved  icing sugar

 Method

Melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of hot water and allow to cool.

Cream the  butter and the icing sugar.

Beat in the cooled, melted chocolate.

Note

Take care  –  if the melted chocolate  is too hot then you will end up having to add more icing sugar and the  butter cream will be very sweet.

Dust the finished cake with icing sugar.

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Plates are Burleigh Ware – Burges & Leigh Ltd —– Blue Mist around 1930s

 

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Makowiec – Roasted Poppy Seed Cake

I came across this recipe recently using roasted poppy seeds which give a slightly nutty flavour to the cake.

The cake part is the same as a previous poppy seed cake – makowiec 4 -and uses the simple all in one method using soft tub margarine.

Here roasted poppy seeds are used and lemon rind is not, nor is there a lemon glaze.

Roasting Poppy Seeds

100g of poppy seeds are used in this recipe.

Poppy seeds

Use a small frying pan without any oil or butter.

Add the poppy seeds to the pan and heat gently for around 5 minutes, stirring the seeds with a wooden spatulas and do not let them burn.

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Pour some milk into a jug or bowl and tip the roasted poppy seeds into the milk.

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When the poppy seeds have cooled, tip then into a sieve and let them drain away until they are dry.  You can press them with a spoon to speed up the process.

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The seeds need to be as dry as possible – you could do this part  several hours earlier or the night before.

This cake is a modern version as soft tub margarine is used and it is an all-in-one method which is so easy to do with an electric hand whisk.

I use either Flora original or Stork for baking – both of these have given good results.

Ingredients

100g poppy seeds – roasted

175g soft tub margarine for baking

225g self-raising flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

175g caster sugar

3 eggs

3 tablespoon milk (full fat or semi-skimmed)

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas mark 4 – 1800C.

Make this as a tray bake in a tin about 31×22 cm.

I have a selection of Mermaid Hard Anodised rectangular baking tins and they are superb.

Grease the tin and use one piece of greaseproof paper to line the base and the two long sides of the tin.

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Place all the ingredients except the poppy seeds into a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until they are well blended.

Add the poppy seeds and  mix them well in.

Put the mixture into the tin and bake for about 30-35 minutes.

Leave to cool on a cooling rack and then take the cake out of the tin.

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Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Tea Plates  – Silver Rose by Duchess

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Miodownik – Piernik – Honey Spice Cake

Miód is the Polish word for honey and so Miodownik is a Honey Cake which usually contains spices. Pierna is an old Polish word for spices and so Piernik is also a Honey Spice Cake.

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.

Honey was the original sweetener, long before sugar and there are many traditional recipes that use honey not only in cakes, but also in meat dishes.

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 dark and very flavoursome.

Piernik  can vary  from 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.

Miodownik  and piernik are often translated as  Gingerbread but ginger is a spice rarely used in Polish cookery.

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

My older recipe book gives the proportions for mixing spices and there is one with black pepper which I intend to try out in the future.

Whilst looking through some of my more recent cookery books it would appear that it in Poland you can buy ready mixed spices for piernik so I would presume you can get these in Polish shops in England. I will try these out in the future as well.

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I 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. I think it is the dried orange peel which makes it much nicer than other mixtures I have used.

Some recipes make a cake mixture and then leave it in a cool place for up to several weeks before baking it. I have tried one of these out many years ago and it was very good – I intend to try this again for a post in the early winter of next year.

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.

Mama’s Miodownik

This is of my mother’s recipes and it uses sunflower oil which is a more recent addition to recipes in Polish cookery. It is a dense cake which is lovely and moist and improves with keeping.

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Miodownik on Greenway Hostess designed by John Russell 1960 – 1979

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Ingredients

  • 450g Clear honey
  • 250g Icing sugar
  • 4 Eggs separated
  • 250ml Tepid water
  • 4 Teaspoons cocoa
  • 250ml Sunflower oil
  • 450g Plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 Teaspoon mixed spice (M&S is the best)
  • 100g mixed peel

Method

  • You can use a 25cm square tin or a 31cm x21cm rectangular tray tin.
  • Grease and line the tin.
  • Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 – 160º C.
  • In a large bowl, mix the honey and the icing sugar.

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  • Add the water, cocoa, egg yolks, oil and then the mixed peel.

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  • In a separate bowl mix the plain flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and the mixed spice.
  • Add the dry mixture to the honey mixture and mix together to make a batter.

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  • Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and fold these into the honey batter.
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.

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  • Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for around  1hour 30minutes.
  • Take care as this has a tendency to burn  at the top, you might need to cover it after about 1 hour with a piece of greaseproof paper of aluminium foil.
  • Test to make sure it is cooked through with a fine cake tester.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

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 Store in an airtight container or cover in aluminium foil

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Miodownik on Greenway Hostess designed by John Russell 1960 – 1979

Addendum

I recently made this for Wigilia (Christmas Eve) around 3 weeks beforehand – it was lovely and moist by then.