Caraway Biscuits

Caraway is such a popular herb/spice in Poland and is used in breads, meat & vegetable dishes.  So it is quite surprising that it is not used  in cakes or biscuits there.

Drawing from Wikipeadia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to try out some biscuits with caraway seeds.  I found that the biscuts were better if not too sweet.

These are the results – they are semi-sweet and are really delicious  with cheese.

Ingredients

225g self-raising flour

100g butter

50g caster sugar

1 egg – beaten

6 teaspoons of caraway seeds

Grated rind of a lemon

1 – 2 tablespoons of lemon juice

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C

Grease 2 or 3 baking sheets.

Rub the fat into the flour until it is like fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, caraway and lemon rind.

Mix in the egg and lemon juice to form a soft dough.

Roll out the dough on a floured board.

Cut out circle using a 7.5cm  diameter, fluted cutter.

Bake for 15 – 20 minutes till lightly browned (take care not to burn them).

Leave them to cool on the tray and then move them off on to a cooling rack.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served on Las Palmas by Aynsley, from the 1960s, with some soft Brie.

Variation

Use 75g of caster sugar instead of the 50g to make a slighly sweeter biscuit which is delicious just nibbled on its own with tea or coffee.

Oats & Cranberry Biscuits

These biscuits are not at all Polish in origin – I like to think of them as a Scottish & Polish Alliance!

 

Cranberries & Lingonberries

Cranberries and lingonberries grow wild in acidic bogs around many forests in Poland and especially in the countryside where my father lived, in what was North East Poland before the war.

Cranberries & Lingonberries belong to the genus Vaccinium and the plants are small,  low growing, evergreen shrubs

Cranberries in central  and northern Europe are Vaccinium oxycoccos , whilst Vaccinium microcarpum or  Vaccinium macrocarpon  are to be found in the USA.

Lingonberries are Vaccinium vitis-idaea .

The berries of the cranberry are larger and oval.

The berries of the lingonberry are round and much smaller than the cranberry, about a third or quarter of the size.

Image result for lingonberries

Image of lingonberries taken from Wikipedia

The Polish for cranberry is żurawina, the word comes from żuraw which means a crane – so the same as the English word, as parts of the plant reminded people of the bird.

The Polish for lingonberry is borówka or borowina,  both these names  contain the part bor which means (from) the forest.

Notes

1 -There are dozens of different names in English for lingonberry which in facts comes from the Swedish name.

2- The commercially grown dried  cranberries used in this recipe  were grown in the USA.

Oats

Oats (Avena sativa) – owiec in Polish, are grown in Poland  but for this recipe I have considered them Scottish!

Rolled Oats
Royal Scottish – Polish Alliance!

The mother of  Bonnie Prince Charlie(1720-1788) was  – Maria Klementyna Sobieska(1702-1735) – she was the granddaughter of the Polish King Jan III Sobieski(1629-1696) and she married James Stuart(1688-1766), The Pretender.

In March 2016, The Scotsman printed an article titled

Scotland and Poland a 500 year relationship.

Some of the facts & figures below are taken from this.

More Polish nationals now live in Scotland than any other group from outside the UK and the two countries share a rich history.

The links were forged back in the late 1400s when trade agreements were established between Aberdeen and the old Baltic seaport of Gdańsk.

Under King Stefan Batory(1533-1586), Scottish merchants became suppliers to the royal court in Kraków and grain and timber  from Poland was traded with Scotland.

Many Scots moved to Poland to seize new business opportunities and buried in St John’s Archcathedral in Warsaw is Alexander Chalmers  (written as Czamer) , from Dyce near Aberdeen, a judge and four times mayor of Warsaw between 1691 and 1703.

There are many surnames in Poland which are Scottish in origin such as:  Machlejd (MacLeod),  Makolroys(MacElroy)  and Szynklers(Sinclaire).

Around 38,000 Polish soldiers were stationed in Scotland after the fall of Poland in WW2 and many of those who were unable to return to their homeland after the end of the war stayed and it is estimated that around 2,500 Polish-Scottish marriages took place around this period.

There was a wave of immigration in the 1980s with the declaration of Martial Law in Poland and then again after 2004 when  Poland  joined the European Union.

One of the most popular brands of tea sold in Poland is Yellow label which was created by Sir Thomas Lipton( 1848-1931) who was from Glasgow, Scotland.

Since 1995 Krakòw has been twinned with Edinburgh.

Ingredients

100g butter or block margarine

100g granulated sugar

5ml of golden syrup

5ml of boiling water

100g of self raising flour

100g of rolled oats

50g of dried cranberries

 

Dried cranberries

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C.

Grease at least 2 baking trays – (you will have to take the biscuits off when they are cooked and re-grease these tins.)

Place the butter or margarine in a pan with the granulated sugar and heat slowly so that the butter is melted.

 

Add the teaspoon of golden syrup and then the teaspoon of boiling water and mix well together.

Take the pan off the heat, add the flour and oats and mix this together.

Then mix in the cranberries.

Using your hands, make small balls and place them on the trays, leaving space around them as they will spread.

 

Place in the oven and bake for around 8 – 10 minutes, watch them carefully as they suddenly seem to catch & burn.

I often look at them half way through and flatten them with a spatula.

Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool a little before you use a spatula to take them of the trays and leave them to fully cool on a wire cooling rack.

 

 

Plate is by Royal Grafton – no pattern name – made in England

American Crescent Cookies

These cookies were made for me by my aunt on my visit to America, many years ago.

She said that she often made these for Christmas.  I have adjusted the recipe to weights rather than cups as I find that easier.  Also below I have the ingredients for  just half the original amount which will  make around 12 largish cookies … so you can try them out .

Ingredients

110g butter

2 and 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1/2 tablespoon of water

130g plain flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

120g chopped pecans  (or you can use walnuts)

Icing sugar for finishing.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160ºC

Grease 2 baking sheets.

Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and water together.

Add the flour and the salt.

Stir in the chopped pecans.

 

Take amounts of the mixture larger than a walnut and press this together in your hands – it will stick together easily –  shape it  into a crescent.

Place them on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for around 25 minutes.

Let them cool for a few minutes and then dredge or roll them in icing sugar.

 

 

Served on a tea plate by Royal Grafton – Woodside –  1950s

Whilst I have been writing this post I mentioned it in an email to my cousin who wrote

“Do you know we still use that recipe particularly at Christmas but I can eat them any time. I like them as crescents but also as thumbprint style with a dab of perhaps raspberry, strawberry or apricot preserves–and then powdered sugar sifted on top.” 

and also

“As you know, the recipe calls for butter and my feeling is, anything is better with butter! My best friend gave me a little kitchen plaque that says, “I believe in the unparalleled power of butter!”

So I tried these out using raspberry jam – delicious!

 

Plates are an unnamed Waterlily design by

Taylor & Kent, Longton, England

More Babeczki – More Buns

I saw a baking tin recently whilst shopping – by the American company Nordic ware  – as it was at a greatly discounted price, I could not resist buying it.

I have similar tins bought from both Lidl and from Marks & Spencer and used these in previous recipes.

This one is much thicker and heavier.

Babka refers to the shape of the cake and babeczki are smaller – they are buns.

Babka and Babeczki

I tried our various recipes using this new tin and found it was rather difficult to get the babeczki – the buns – out of the tin and many just ended up being fed to the birds.

Cake Seeking Bird

One of a pair of large wood pigeons that come into my garden – looking for cake!

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At last I found two recipes that work well with this tin!

Tip

I have found that you have to grease the tins very well – I use melted butter or margarine and then I dust with dried Breadcrumbs (or you can use flour).

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Carrot Spice Babeczki

These are based on a recipe for carrot cake which I use and has  dark brown sugar  as one of its ingredients – this is very popular in Britain  where sugars made from sugar cane are readily available. In Poland where sugar is made from sugar beet, white sugar is the norm in the shops.

Ingredients

225g self raising flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice ( I like the mixture from Marks & Spencer)

Grated rind of 1 orange

150g of soft dark brown sugar

150g of medium grated peeled carrots.

2 eggs

150ml of sunflower oil

2 tablespoons of milk

Method

Grease and dried breadcrumb (or flour) the tin ... you might have some mixture left over – so use bun cases in bun tins for the remainder.

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Place the flour and the mixed spice into a large bowl.

Add the sugar (sometimes I have found that this sugar has a few lumps in it  – I mix these into the flour with my finger tips to remove them.)

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Stir in the carrots and the orange rind.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the beaten egg, oil and milk.

Mix well together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is evenly blended.

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Fill the tins around 2/3rds full.

Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool slightly, then, using a spatula ease the buns gently out of the tins.

Dust well with icing sugar.

Chocolate Babeczki

Here I have used the same recipe as for my Chocolate Babka with a slightly different recipe for the chocolate icing.

Evaporated milk is used for the cake and the icing – a very small tin – 170g is enough for both.

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Ingredients – cake

200g self raising flour

2250g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

25g cocoa powder

200g butter or block margarine

2 eggs

75ml evaporated milk

75ml water

2 drops of vanilla essence

Method – cake

Grease and dried breadcrumb (or flour) the tin ... you might have some mixture left over – so use bun cases in bun tins for the remainder.

Pre-heat the oven oven to GM 4  – 180°C.

You need to use a large bowl for this cake mixture.

Rub the butter into the flour so that the mixture is like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the salt, sugar and cocoa powder.

Lightly beat the eggs and add the evaporated milk, the water and the drops of vanilla essence.

Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients mixing thoroughly to give a thick batter.

Fill the tins around 2/3rds full.

Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool slightly then using a spatula ease the buns gently out of the tins.

You can then dust with icing sugar or add an icing.

Ingredients – icing

40g butter

2 level tablespoons of cocoa

2 tablespoons of evaporated milk

Around 180g icing sugar

Method – icing

Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the cocoa, stirring continuously.

Remove from the heat and beat in the evaporated milk.

Beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is thick.

Pour the icing over the babeczki.

Kołaczyki – Little Wheels

Sweet Yeast Buns

Kołaczyki means little wheels from the word koła which means wheels.

In a previous post –  Bułeczki – Sweet Yeast Buns– I gave a recipe for basic sweet yeast dough – since then I have tried out a slightly different recipe – nearly the same ingredients but a slightly different method – and I think these turned out to be the best yeast buns I have ever made – so this is  – Basic sweet yeast dough version two. 

A few reminders when using yeast in baking

  • Learn to be patient – you cannot control the timings exactly with yeast, it depends on the temperature of the room and the flour used and other variables.
  • Do yeast baking on a day you are planning to be in & have other things to do, but ones you can break off from when needed.
  • Heat the milk so it is at body temperature – use the finger test – too hot and you will kill the yeast – too cold is okay – it will just take longer.
  • An egg glaze often burns too quickly –  I have found an egg white or egg white & water glaze gives a better result.

Older Polish recipes use fresh yeast. I have used dried yeast and have had very good results.  (I have not tried using easy bake yeast for this recipe).

Basic Sweet Yeast Dough Version 2

Ingredients

Leaven – Starter

100g plain flour

30g fresh yeast or 15-20g dried yeast

125ml  milk

Rest of ingredients

3 egg yolks

60g sugar

50g melted butter or block margarine

400g plain flour

1/4 tsp salt

Zest of 1 lemon

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

125ml milk

and

Save 1 egg white for use as a wash on the buns.

Method

Warm the milk slightly – so it is just warm to the touch – and add the yeast and mix together.

Put the flour in to a bowl and add the milk and yeast  mix it all together and leave it covered until it is double in size.

Melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the yolks and sugar until they are pale and fluffy.

Grease 2 baking sheets – You should get around 15 buns. – invite people round!

Into a large bowl put: the flour and the salt, the yeast starter, the yolk mixture, the zest of a lemon, the vanilla essence and the milk.

Mix it all together so that you get a soft dough that comes away from the side of the bowl – you do not have to knead it.

Then work in the melted butter (this is the hardest part) until it is all incorporated and you have a uniform shiny dough.

Cover the dough with a cloth and leave this to rise until it is double in size.

Onto a floured surface place the dough and form it into a rectangle and then roll this out until it is around  2cm thick.

Using a 8cm diameter cutter cut out circles of dough and place them on the greased baking sheets, leaving room for the dough to rise.

Gather together the left over dough and repeat the process.

Cover the trays and leave the circles to rise and double in size.

Pre heat the oven to GM5 – 190ºC

Use a clean napkin or tea towel and cover the base of a tumbler.

Use the covered tumbler and press down on the centre of each circle to form an indentation into which you will put a filling.

Fillings

These are the ones I tried –

Cheese mixture – similar to ones for baked cheesecake.

Mix together around 250g of cream cheese/twaróg/curd or yoghurt cheese, 70g icing sugar, 1 egg yolk and 2-3 drops of vanilla essence.

Blackcurrant jam (you could use any tart jam such as cherry or gooseberry )

English style sweet mincemeat – I use Delia Smith’s recipe (without the nuts)

Put a large dollop of the filling onto each circle.

Brush the exposed dough with beaten egg white.

IMG_20151218_075301762

 

 

 

 

 

Topping

This is for the jam or mincemeat only – not the cheese mixture.

Kruszonka – Crumble Mixture

Ingredients

50g plain flour

50g butter

50g granulated  sugar

Method

Mix together the flour and butter to make fine crumbs then mix in the sugar.

Sprinkle around a tablespoon or so over the jam or mincemeat.

Bake the buns for around 15 minutes.

 

Tea plate pattern below is called Mayfair.

 

They were all delicious – the sweet cheese ones were my favourites!

Bułeczki – Sweet Yeast Buns

Bułeczki  – this word can cause a little confusion as it can mean –  little white bread rolls or a more sweet yeast bun.

This recipe has been used to make round buns with a filling – it can be used for a variety of sweet buns – all of which are very popular in Poland.

A few reminders when using yeast in baking

  • Learn to be patient – you cannot control the timings exactly with yeast, it depends on the temperature of the room and the flour used and other variables.
  • Do yeast baking on a day you are planning to be in & have other things to do, but ones you can break off from when needed.
  • Heat the milk so it is at body temperature – use the finger test – too hot and you will kill the yeast – too cold is okay – it will just take longer.
  • An egg glaze often burns too quickly –  I have found an egg white or egg white & water glaze gives a better result.

The older Polish recipes use fresh yeast. I have used dried yeast and had very good results.  (I have not tried using easy bake yeast for this recipe).

Basic sweet dough recipe

Ingredients

Yeast starter

25g fresh yeast or 15g dried yeast

1 tablespoon of  sugar

250ml  milk – warmed

Rest of dough

3 yolks

100g granulated sugar

*******

500g plain flour

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Zest of 1 lemon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

******

60g of melted butter

******

Egg or egg white to glaze (whole egg tends to brown very quickly).

Fillings

Jam – I used strawberry jam and also blackcurrant jam (made by my friend in Leeds) and I think the more tart blackcurrant jam goes better with the semi-sweet dough.

Mincemeat – I used my own mincemeat which is from the recipe by Delia Smith but without the chopped almonds. This of course in one way is very English, but it would be recognised in Poland if  described as bakalie –  which is a  mixture made of dried fruits (often with figs or dates), nuts and honey.

Method

Mix the yeast, sugar and warmed milk together and leave it till it doubles in size.

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Whisk the yolks and sugar together until the mixture is pale and thick.

Put the flour into a large bowl, add the yeast starter, the yolks & sugar mix, vanilla essence, lemon zest and the salt.

Combine everything together and knead it together until the dough leaves the side of the bowl clean.

Add the melted butter and mix it in and then knead it well until you get a glossy smooth dough.

Place it back in the bowl and cover with a cloth and leave it until it doubles in size.

Grease 1 or 2 baking sheets to hold 16 buns.

Knead the dough again lightly, then cut in to half and half again and so on to give 16 pieces.

Roll each piece into a smooth ball, then flatten it and roll it out into a circle.

Put a small spoonful of filling onto each circle and then draw the edges of the dough circle together and pinch the dough to seal in the filling.

Turn the balls over so the seal is on the underside.

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Place the buns on the baking sheets with room apart for them to double in size.

Cover the buns with a cloth and leave them to rise to double in size.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190ºC

When the buns have doubled in size brush them with an egg or egg white wash.

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I used whole egg in this case but since have found that egg white does not burn as quickly.

Bake the buns for around 15 minutes.

 

 

Leave to cool before serving.

 

 

Tea plates are Las Palmas  by Aynsley from the 1960s.

 

 

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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