Piernik with Chocolate

I came across this recipe in the book my Polish friend, who lives in Leeds, bought for me in Poland this summer.

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I thought it sounded interesting and I have adapted it slightly.

Piernik is a honey spice cake which has its origins in the 12th Century.

The spices used will have originaly been brought back by the Crusadors.  I make up a mixture of equal parts of cinnamon, cloves and cardamon.

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.

As it is Święty Mikołaj next week on  December 6thSt Nicholas Day – I  thought this was a good day to post this recipe.

The addition of chocolate to coat the piernik is more recent. Chocolate made by Wedel in Poland started in 1851.

Here the chocolate is grated or chopped finely and added to the cake mixture.

The result is delicious and I will certainly be adding this to my Wigilia (Christmas Eve) menu.

I found grating the chocolate hard work – it was easier for me to chop this amount into very small pieces, using a cleaver type knife.

Ingredients

250ml runny honey

230g granulated sugar

2 large eggs (or 3 medium)

1.5 teaspoons of piernik spices (cinnamon: cloves: cardamon in equal amounts  so a half  teaspoon of each).

350g plain flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

100g dark chocolate – grated or finely chopped

100g chopped mixed peel

 

Icing Sugar to serve

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C

Grease and line a 32cm x 22cm shallow Mermaid tin (use one sheet for the two long sides and the base).

Put the honey, eggs, sugar and the spices into a large bowl and whisk well together.

In another bowl mix the flour, baking powder, chopped/grated chocolate and the mixed peel.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the honey mixture and then mix it all together.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for around 1 hour 10 minutes, check it after 40 minutes and cover if it is starting to catch.

Test with a cake tester to check it is done and then leave it  in the oven for 10 minutes with the door slightly open.

Then put on a cake rack to cool.

 

 

 

 

 

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

Plates, cups & saucers are Lyndale by Royal Standard from the 1950s

Teapot is Café Culture by Maxwell Williams

Czekolada – Chocolate

A very brief history of chocolate

Chocolate originated in Central America around 2,000 years ago from the seeds of the cacao tree – Theobroma cacao.

Theo = god  &  broma = food  – means food of the gods

30 – 50 seeds (called beans) are found in a large pod.

It was consumed by the Aztecs & Mayans as a beverage.

Christopher Columbus took the cacao beans back to Spain in the middle of 16th Century and  within a hundred years it was established throughout Europe.

Chocolate in Europe was originally a beverage  and was sweetened to balance its bitter flavour.

In Spanish it is called is el chocolate which  comes from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) word  xocolatl or chocolātl …. and so we get  czekolada in Polish and chocolate in English.

By the 19th century many processes had been invented which led to the modern solid form of chocolate

Famous Names in Chocolate.

Coenraad Johannes Van Houten, in 1815, introduced alkaline salts to reduce the bitterness & in 1828 reduced the natural fat – cacao butter  and produced  cocoa powder.

Joseph Fry learnt to make chocolate moldable by adding back the melted cacao butter.

Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by using powdered milk developed by Henri Nestlé.

Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching (method of mixing and reducing the particle size of cocoa solids) machine.

John Cadbury in 1824 had a grocer’s shop in Birmingham where he prepared ground cocoa. Moving to a factory in 1831.

Milton S. Hershey in 1893 purchased chocolate processing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

John Mackintosh had a confectionary business in Halifax from 1890.

Henry Isaaac Rowntree had a confectionery business  in York in 1862.

Joseph Terry was a  confectionery & chocolate maker in York from 1862.

Nowadays roughly two thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa  with Côte d’Ivoire being the largest source.

Chocolate in Poland

Chocolate in Poland has been by tradition dark & slightly bitter  – it is called gorzka – which means bitter.  Recently there has been a move to make milk chocolate. Personally I have not liked the milk chocolate produced in Poland, I much prefer the dark chocolate.

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Karol  Ernest Wedel  (1813 – 1902) came to Poland from Berlin, accompanied by his wife, Karolina and in 1851, set up his own business in Warsaw, originally serving drinking chocolate.

The logo of the company is based on Karol Wedel’s signature.

Thought by many to be the Polish national chocolate brand.

In 1894 the company moved its main factory to another site in Warsaw.

His son Emil Albert Fryderyk Wedel (1841-1919)  worked in sweet and chocolate factories in  Europe before inheriting and expanding his father’s business.

His descendant Jan Wedel  who died  in 1960,  opened a second factory in 1934 in Praga another area of Warsaw, it was  one of the most modern in Poland.

Prior to  World War II,  Wedel became a successful private company, with shops in London and Paris.

The war devastated Poland and the company.

After the war, Wedel rebuilt the factory, but it was nationalised by the communist government and then re-privatised  in 1989 after the fall of communism.

In 1991 it was bought by PepsiCo Foods and Beverages.

In 1999, Cadbury bought E.Wedel and the factory in Praga, from PepsiCo.  The Praga factory was modernised in 2007.

In March 2010  Kraft Foods Inc acquired Cadbury plc.  The European Commission insisted that Wedel be sold in order for the takeover to go ahead.

It was sold to Lotte of  South Korea in June 2010.

 

Warsaw in the late 1970s

 

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Image result for wawel chocolates poland

Adam Antoni Piasecki (1873 -1945)  Started a confectionery company in 1898 in Kraków naming it Wawel after the Royal Castle in Kraków.

 

 

 

Wawel Palace

 

Main Square –  rynek główny

 

At first his small workshop at Długa Street employed  five people.  His first shop was opened in a tenement house in the Main Square in Kraków and there is still a shop in this area today.

In 1951  three confectionery companies from Kraków merged  to form the new Zakłady Przemysłu Cukierniczego Wawel  (Wawel Confectionery Plant).

In 1992, as a result of privatisation, Zakłady Przemysłu Cukierniczego Wawel has become a joint stock company.

In 2005, the company changed its name to Wawel SA.

Plums & Chocolate

Candied Plums coated in chocolate with a cocoa cream filling (instead of the plum stone) –  I remember this combination from when I was a child & I still love it today.

Many visitors to Poland bring these goodies back for their friends.

These chocolates are made by  Solidarność / Goplana   whose origins are with Jan Kolański in 1911.