Little Poppy Seed Cakes

Christmas is coming up and I have been thinking of making an easier version of makowiec – the Traditional Poppy seed cake.

I have posted versions for larger cakes and for little buns with the traditional poppy seed filling.

Several years ago I got an Austrian cookery book which has many similar recipes to Polish ones and I made some babeczki  or buleczki – little cakes, with a yeast pastry & poppy seed filling for Wigilia from it.

 

I thought I would have another go at these but with some changes.

The poppy seed filling I have changed quite a bit and it is easier than my traditional one. The recipe for the dough I have changed slightly and the shaping method quite a lot.

Poppy Seed Filling

Ingredients

  • 180ml of milk (full fat or semi)
  • Around 100ml of runny honey (extra may be needed)
  • 120g of poppy seeds *
  • 50g of raisins
  • Strong Earl Grey tea
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • *
  • * You can grind the poppy seeds – I used a little electric grinder.

Method

  • Make some strong Earl Grey tea.
  • Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with the hot tea and leave till they go cold.
  • Into a small saucepan put the poppy seeds and the milk.
  • Bring to the boil then lower the heat.
  • Simmer gently for around 20 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Take care not to let the mixture burn.
  • Add the honey and continue heating and stirring.
  • Drain the raisins and add them to the mixture and mix them in.
  • Keep stirring and try and drive off any liquid left.
  • Taste for sweetness – you may want to add more honey.
  • Leave to go completely cold before using.
  • Add the grated lemon rind.
  • *
  • If this is too much filling – you can always freeze some.

 

Yeast Dough

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon of dried yeast
  • 4-5 tablespoons of milk (full fat or semi)
  • 250g of strong flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 120g of butter
  • 20g of caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 egg white for glazing (I always use just egg white now – it does not burn as easily as whole egg)

Method

  • Warm 3-4 tablespoons of the milk to hand heat.
  • Add the yeast and leave it to froth up.
  • Place the flour into a large bowl and add the salt.
  • Cut in the butter with a knife and then make breadcrumbs with your fingers.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Make a well in the centre.
  • Add the egg yolk and the yeast mixture.
  • Use a knife at first to bring the dough together.
  • You may need some of the extra milk.
  • Use your fingers to gather all the ingredients into  a ball.
  • Knead the dough for around 5 minutes till you have a smooth dough.
  • Leave the dough to rest for at least 45 minutes – covered with a tea cloth.
  • ******
  • Grease and line several baking trays.
  • Cut the dough into 3 or 4 portions.
  • Roll the dough out thinly.
  • Use a 6cm cutter to cut out circles.
  • Place a small teaspoon of filling on half of the circles.
  • Place a second pastry circle on top.
  • Use a pastry fork to crimp the edges together making sure they are sealed.
  • Glaze with beaten egg white.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C (quite low for a yeast pastry!).
  • Bake for 12-13 minutes.
  • Dust with icing sugar whilst still warm.
  • Leave to cool.

You could drizzle with runny lemon icing instead.

Served here on Duchess – tea plates – Poppies from the 1960s.

 

Piernik with Chocolate 2

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 is 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.

I came across this recipe, which has grated dark chocolate added to the mixture and the result is excellent.  I posted it last year as Piernik with Chocolate.  Here I have added a sour cherry jam topping which makes it even better!

Ingredients

  • 250ml of runny honey
  • 220g of granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 teaspoons of mixed spice (or 0.5 teaspoons each of ground cardamom, cinnamon & cloves)
  • 350g of plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 100g of grated dark chocolate (I used one with 74%cocoa)
  • 100g of mixed peel
  • To serve
  • Sour Cherry Jam & Icing Sugar

Method

  • Grease and line a 32 x 22 cm tin.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C.
  • Whisk together the honey, sugar, eggs and spices.
  • Mix the flour and the baking powder together and mix this in.
  • Stir in the grated chocolate and the mixed peel.
  • Pour the thick batter into the tinand smooth down the top.
  • Bake for 60 – 65 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • *
  • Warm 2 – 3 tablespoons of sour cherry jam to make it easier to use.
  • Remove the piernik from the tin.
  • Brush the top of the piernik thickly with the jam and leave to cool and set.
  • Dust the top with icing sugar.
  • Cut into rectangles or triangles to serve.

 

 

Piernik – Honey Spice Cake-2

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.

Ingredients

  • 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.

Method

  • 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.

After resting

  • 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.

To serve

  • 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.

 

 

 

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Placek-with sour cherries & meringue

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.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

Leśny mech – Forest moss

 

A Polish Heritage Day was held in the Leeds Polish Centre on the first Saturday after 3rd May in 2017 & 2018.

The 3rd will take place on Saturday, 4 May 2019.

May 3rd  is Polish Constitution Day – a National Holiday in Poland to celebrate – Konstytucja 3 maja 1791.

This was the first  written constitution in Europe and the second in the World with the American constitution in 1789 being the first. It was very progressive for its time.

There was a hugh table with Polish cakes for sale – I contributed the iced poppy seed cake – makowiec on a glass stand in the middle of the photograph.

One of the ladies brought a cake I had never seen before which she told me was called Leśny mech – which means Forest Moss and it looked amazing as it was bright green!

Others certainly knew this cake and it very quickly disappeared!

I was amazed to find that the cake is made with spinach!

I have tried to find the origins of the cake as it is certainly not one my mother ever mentionned – all that I have found is that it is based on a Turkish cake – called  Ispanakli Kek (Spinach Cake).

Short History of Spinach

Spinacia oleracea is spinach & the plant originated in Persia (modern Iran), ispanakh in Persian &  ispanak in Turkish and szpinak in Polish.

Spinach was found in China by the early years of AD, where it is called Persian vegetable.

There are records of spinach in Spain by the 12th century.

Spinach came to England in the 14th century and was popular because it grew in the spring and helped to break the monotony of the Lenten diet.

Catherine de Medici who was from Florence in the 16th century married into the French royal family. She loved spinach  and the term which is used till this day – à la Florentine, which is used to signify a dish with spinach, was coined in her honour.

Leśny mech

Forest Moss – this cake with its amazing colours is meant to look like the forest floor with red berries growing.

I made this cake with 250g of  baby leaf spinach which gives a light green colour. I have read that if you use full leaf older spinach this gives a darker colour and has more flavour – I have not tried this yet.

I also know that you can use frozen spinach -400g of frozen – squeezed out and patted dry – but I have not tried this.

I used frozen raspberries for the berries – when it is later in the year I will use fresh raspberries or alpine strawberries from the garden or whinberries(bilberries) from the woods. Many people use pomegranate seeds when making this in the winter months.

Ingredients

  • 250g baby leaf spinach
  • 240g of  granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 185 ml sunflower oil (3/4 of  a 250ml cup)
  • 400g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

Grease and line the bottom of a loose-bottomed (or spring formed) cake tin – 26cm in diameter.

  • Use a mini-chopper/blender to whizz up the spinach – most likely in batches to get it all done.
  • Mix the flour and baking powder together.
  • Place the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence into a large bowl and use an electric whisk to whisk them together for 4 to 6 minutes till it is pale and fluffy.
  • Gently stir in the spinach.
  • Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  • Bake on a lower shelf of the oven for 40 – 50 minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

  • Lightly shave off any golden brown edges of the cake with a sharp knfe or fine grater.
  • Cut off the top third of the cake and crumble it by hand into a bowl.

Place the bottom piece of the cake onto the serving plate or cake stand.

Optional

A sweet poncz (sweet punch for moistening the cake) can be used on the bottom layer.  You can make one from 60ml of cold weak black tea, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 – 2 tablespoons of icing sugar. Mix the ingredients together and use a pastry brush to spread it on the cake.

Now add a white filling!

Some recipes use whipped double cream, sweetened with icing sugar and set with gelatine. Other recipes make a filling with mascarpone.

I used my own yoghurt cheese – you can use cream cheese.

Filling Ingredients

Approximate amounts

  • 500g yoghurt cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of icing sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla essence or fine grated rind of a lemon
  • optional – a couple of tablespoons of soured cream – depending on the cheese and how soft you want the filling

Method

Mix the ingredients together – adjusting the sweetness and consistency to taste.

Assembling the cake.

  • Place bottom layer on a plate or cake stand.
  • Brush on the poncz – optional
  • Spread on the white filling
  • Sprinkle the cake crumbs over the top of the cake to cover filling
  • scatter red berries over the top (do this later if not serving straight away)

To decorate – red colours – raspberries, whinberries (bilberries) alpine strawberries, pomegranate seeds

 

Making this cake gave me a chance to use the beautiful Lead Crystal Cake Stand, which was a present from my cousin in Lanchester. It was just right for this large cake.

Made by Nachtmann in Germany  – Tortenplatte (tort/gateau plate/ stand) – style name – Venus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plates used are La Prune by Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

Cotton napkin with a design of rhubarb was bought from the Hepworth Gallery shop in Wakefield (Sadly – No longer in stock – as I wanted to buy some more!).

Carrot Piernik

Piernik is a spiced honey-cake.

I would describe this cake as a “Pseudo-piernik” as  granulated sugar rather than honey is used.

My Polish friend in Leeds gave me this recipe and she got it from another Polish lady. The written copy could be described as being in “Ponglish” being written partly in English with additional notes in Polish!

The original recipe used cups which except for liquids I find hard to work with and  much prefer weights.

I tried out a few alterations & variations until I reached this final version which I feel is the easiest way to get consistent results.

I made it is two different tins: the longer tin gave a thinner cake which was  better for cutting in two and adding  a filling, the shorter tin gave a thicker cake which was  better with just a topping.

Ingredients

  • 225g granulated sugar
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 225g coarse grated carrots
  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice (I use Marks & Spencer’s) or cinnamon

Method

  • Grease and line a 32cm x 22cm or a 27cm x 21cm tin.
  • Pre-heat oven to GM5 – 190°C
  • Mix well together the sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla essence &  orange rind (I use an electric whisk).
  • Mix together the flour, baking powder, spices & salt and lightly mix this into the whisked mixture.
  • Mix in the grated carrots.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared tin.
  • Depending on the tin size, bake for 25 – 35 minutes but keep an eye on it and cover with foil or greaseproof if it starts to burn.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

 

Finishing – several ways

  • Dust with icing sugar
  • Drizzle with a melted chocolate & butter mixture
  • Cut into two and sandwich together with powidła – Polish plum jam* or sour cherry jam – then dust with icing and drizzle with chocolate & butter topping
  • Top with orange butter icing

*Powidła is a lovely spread – often translated as jam but  is not really a jam.

It is made from fresh ripe plums which are heated and stirred for hours until the water is driven off and you get a thick paste.  The traditional version does not have any extra sugar added.

I bought some in my local Polish shop, I have seen it for sale in glass jars or in plastic tubs.

Chocolate Drizzle

Ingredients

  • 50g of plain chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon of butter

Method

  • Place the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan with some water in it.
  • Heat the water in the pan and stir the mixture to combine it together.
  • Use a spoon to drizzle the mixture over the top of the cake.

 

 

Orange Butter Icing

Ingredients

  • 50g of butter
  • 2 tablespoon of orange juice
  • Grated rind of 1/2  a large orange
  • Around 250g of icing sugar

 

 

Method

  • Melt the butter with the juice and rind in a small saucepan.
  • Leave to cool slightly.
  • Mix in the icing sugar to get a thick spreadable icing.

 

 

Royal Albert – Primulette – tea set – from the 1950s

Green teapot – Café Culture by Maxwell Williams

Optional

Add 100g of sultanas to the mixture.

 

20190313_085148

Note

I have posted a previous carrot recipe which I have used to make small buns.

The ingredients are similar but in different proportions – soft dark brown sugar is used which is not usually available in Poland.

Chocolate Orange Babka

This is a new recipe for a babka – it is very moist and tastes delicious.

I serve it just dusted with icing sugar but you could add a thin chocolate glaze.

Ingredients

225g Butter or Block Margarine

225g Caster Sugar

Finely grated zest and the juice of 1 orange

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

2 tablespoons of apricot jam

4 eggs

175g self raising flour

1 teaspoon of baking powder

50g of cocoa

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C

Grease & flour well a large babka tin, tapping away any excess.

 

 

 

 

Beat well together the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.

Beat the eggs well and gradually add them, beating the mixure after each addition.

Mix  in the vanilla essence, apricot jam, orange zest and juice.

In a seperate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and cocoa together.

Fold the flour mixture into the beaten mixture.

Spoon the cake mixture into the babka tin and level the top.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes until the babka has risen and a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool for at least 5 minutes in the tin, then turn this out onto a wire cake rack to cool.

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served on Crown – fine bone china – England (no pattern name given).