Semi French? Ciasto pȯłfrancuskie 2

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 2 – with curd cheese – twaróg

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 225g butter
  • 225g twaróg – curd cheese or yoghurt cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of soured cream – maybe needed – depends on dampness of the cheese

Note as you use equal parts of the three main ingredients, you can make an amount suited to you needs – I usually go by how much yoghurt cheese I have.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to GM7 – 220ºC
  • Grease several baking sheets.
  • You need to get the curd cheese as dry as possible, if you are using homemade then allow this to strain as long as possible.
  • Put the flour into a large bowl.
  • Add the butter and with a knife chop it up roughly.
  • Then with your finger tips rub the butter in until you have fine breadcrumbs.
  • Mix in the curd cheese and bring the dough together, adding as much soured cream as is needed.
  • When using my own yoghurt cheese I often do not need any soured cream.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and leave in a cool place for 20 – 30 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 4 and work with each quarter at a time, leaving the rest in a cool place .
  • Roll the dough out thinly
  • Cut into  circles using a 7cm cutter.
  • Add around a teaspoon of filling* see below and fold the circle into half.
  • Pinch the edges together carefully.
  • Place the pastries on the greased baking sheets.
  • Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden.
  • For ones with sweet fillings dust with icing sugar whilst still warm.

Fillings

You can use lots of savoury or sweet fillings – here are a few suggestions:

  • Date
  • Poppy seed mixture
  • Walnut
  • Hazelnut

All filling must be cool before using.

Date

  • Chop 200g of dried dates.
  • Place in a small saucepan and cover with water (and you can add a little lemon juice).
  • Heat gently and stir.
  • Cook until you have a soft pulp.

 

Poppy Seed Mixture

 

See instructions in an earlier post – ciasto pȯłfrancuskie 1

Walnut

  • Grind 100g of chopped walnuts.
  • Add the nuts to around 3 tablespoons of apricot jam.
  • Mix well together.

 

You can do the same with hazelnuts.

Carrot Pancakes

Daucus carota – the carrot – was cultivated from wild carrots in the countries we now know as Afghanistan & Iran and are mentioned there in the 10th century and by the 12th century they were mentioned in Europe.

These tap roots were originally white, yellow or purple in colour.

The orange colour that we recognise today was breed by growers in Europe in the 17th century especially in the Netherlands.  It is thought that this was in honour of Prince William of Orange-Nassau (Willem van Oranje) who had an orange stripe on his flag. Nowadays orange is thought of as the national colour for the Netherlands.

These pancakes made with carrots in Polish are called racuszki z marchwi.

They are small round pancakes like American pancakes or dropped scones and are served with sugar or sweetened soured cream.

Ingredients

450g carrots, peeled and finely grated

140g twaróg/cream cheese or yoghurt cheese

2 eggs separated

3 tablespoons of plain flour

1/2  teaspoon of baking powder

Sunflower oil for frying

To Serve

Caster sugar or soured cream sweetened with icing sugar.

Method

Whisk the whites until they are stiff.

In a small dish mix the baking powder with the flour.

In a large bowl mix together well the finely grated carrots, the cream (or yoghurt) cheese and the egg yolks.

Add the flour mixture.

Fold in the stiff egg whites.

Heat some sunflower oil in a cast iron frying pan or griddle.

Use 2 tablespoonfuls of the mixture for each pancake, cook on one side and then turn them over and cook on the other side.

Sprinkle with caster sugar or with a dollop of sweetened soured cream.

 

 

Served here on Wedgwood – Hathaway Rose – 1959 -1987.

Note

I have also tried them with maple syrup poured on them & these were also delicious.

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Racuszki – A Kind of Pancake

A racuch – according  to my dictionary is  a kind of pancake.

Racuszki or racuchy are plural words for them- used much more as you never have just one!  They are small thick pancakes similar to dropped scones, Scotch pancakes or American style pancakes.

In my old Polish recipe book, the recipe uses soured milk, but as I do not have this, I use my own thick yoghurt instead.

Racuszki

1 egg

250ml yoghurt

200g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

large pinch salt.

Method

In a large bowl mix the flour, pinch of salt, the egg and some of the yoghurt, mix it with a wooden spoon. I found my new one with a hole in it which I bought in The Netherlands very good for this.

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Keep adding the yoghurt (and some water if needed) and mix till you get a batter which is thick and then beat it more till it is smooth and glossy.

Then add the bicarbonate of soda and give this a final mix.

Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

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They are traditionally served warm with jam or thick fruit syrup – caster sugar also goes well.

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With Sour Cherry Jam

Yoghurt Cheese Pancakes

I have recently been to The Netherlands to stay with my friend and was looking at the local newspaper and saw a recipe for pancakes using qwark  (I can manage enough Dutch words to  figure out some recipes – especially if there is  a photograph!)

I thought they sounded very much like racuszki, so I jotted the recipe down and when I came home I adapted it slightly by using self raising flour, adding a little vanilla essence and used my own yoghurt cheese instead of qwark.

In the original recipe they served them warm with yoghurt & honey, I also tried them with melted butter & sugar, and with maple syrup – from the large bottle I got from my friend who lives in Canada.

 

 

They were super and ones I had left could be easily reheated and were still soft and not rubbery – I will be using this recipe lots from now on.

Ingredients

2 eggs separated

2 tablespoons sugar

250g yoghurt cheese

200ml milk (you might not need it all)

125g self raising flour

Pinch salt

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff – I tend to do this first so you can use the beaters for the rest of the recipe – without having to wash them to remove the grease.

In a large bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar, yoghurt cheese, flour, pinch of salt, vanilla essence and around half the milk.

Keep adding more milk and mix well until you have a thick batter – like double cream.

With a metal spoon fold in the stiff egg whites.

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Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

 

Ciocia* Pola’s Apple Racuszki 

*Aunty

Many years ago I went to stay with my one of mother’s sisters (Apolonia) who lived in the area called mazury – the Masurian Lake District in North East Poland.

With apples from the garden she made  racuszki – using a thick yeast risen batter and roughly chopped apples – a cross between a pancake and a fritter. They were delicious.

I have made them here many times using her recipe. Whilst researching and checking other  variations I saw that several recipes used grated apples – these came out stodgy  with little taste of the apple – you need to keep the pieces fairly large.

Ingredients

125 ml of milk (full or semi-skimmed)

25g caster sugar and 1 teaspoon

10g  fresh yeast or 5g  dried yeast

25g  butter

1 egg

125g plain flour

pinch of salt

2 Bramley apples

Icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon  sugar to dust.

Method

Warm half the milk and add a teaspoon of caster sugar and the yeast and mix it all together and leave it to froth up.

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Melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the egg with the sugar until it is thick and creamy.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl.

Use a wooden spoon (one with a hole works really well) and beat in the yeast mixture, the egg & sugar mixture and then the melted butter.

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Slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing until the mixture has the consistency of double cream.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave this to rise.

Peel, core and quarter the apples and cut them into small chunks or slices cut in half.

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Add the apples to the risen batter and mix them well in to coat them.

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Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place large tablespoons of apple and batter onto the pan and cook them so that they are golden brown on both sides.

 

Remove them from the pan and dust them with icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon sugar.

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Eat them whilst they are hot & as they say in Poland – Smacznego! (may they be delicious!)

Another Cheesecake!

I had not planned to write about cheesecakes again so soon but recently I had made lots of yoghurt cheese and I decided to make a baked cheesecake for my visitors.

There are so many variations you can make of baked cheesecakes – here is one with a chocolate and an orangey twist.

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I had a packet of milk chocolate digestive biscuits already opened and  I thought I would try  a variation on my usual recipe.

Ingredients for the base

100- 150g of chocolate digestive digestive biscuits (milk or dark)

50 – 75g of butter

A few chunks of dark chocolate

Method

Grease a spring-form or loose bottomed tin with melted butter. (You can use a 7.5cm, 8cm or 8.5cm tin – adjust the amounts of the base ingredients to suit.)

Crush the biscuits in a bowl.

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then add the chocolate and let it melt.

Add the butter & chocolate mix to the biscuits and mix them all together.

Press the mixture into the base of the tin and leave it to cool completely.

Once cool you can put it the tin into the fridge whilst you make the yoghurt cheese mixture.

Ingredients for yoghurt cheese mixture

Around 450g of yoghurt cheese (or use cream cheese)

3 eggs separated

80g of caster sugar

60g of chopped mixed peel (I use the peel from Marks & Spencer)

2 tablespoons of custard powder

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The custard powder helps as the yoghurt cheese is often quite “wet” – this is a tip I got from the book   Eat Well  The Yochee Way   by Nikki & David Goldbeck.

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Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 3 – 160ºC.

Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar till they are pale and fluffy.

Lightly whisk in the yoghurt cheese and the custard powder till it is all well combined.

Mix in the mixed peel.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and then fold them into the mixture with a metal spoon.

Pour the mixture onto on the biscuit base.

 

 

Bake in the oven for  50 minutes.

When the cake is ready switch off the oven and leave it in there for at least 40 minutes.

Take out the cake to cool.

Once it is cold – take the cake out of the tin by loosening the outer ring or placing the cake tin with the loose bottom on a tin can and sliding the cake tin down.

Dust the cake with icing sugar before serving.

I think this cake is best made the day before you want to serve it – so it is well cooled and set.

 

The blue & white table cloth is a new 100% cotton one from Ikea.

The tea plate is Las Palmas by Aynsley from the 1960s.

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.

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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!

Yoghurt and Yoghurt Cheese

Soured Milk – is the fermented milk product that is found in Northern Europe, especially in Poland.  It forms naturally from bacteria in fresh milk  and these bacteria live happily in colder climates.

When we used to have farm milk at home my mother made soured milk all the time and then also made twaróg – Polish curd cheese from this. However you cannot make soured milk from pasteurised milk (of course you can in a dairy where they will have the starters).

My mother had this on the go all the time, mainly to make the curd cheese which is used in lots of Polish recipes – savoury and sweet.

Yoghurt – is the fermented milk product that is found in Southern Europe and the Middle East.  It forms naturally from bacteria in fresh milk and these bacteria live happily in warmer climates.

You could say that yoghurt is soured milk’s cousin.

It is a relatively new dairy product for sale in Poland but is now very popular.

You can make yoghurt at home because you can use some bought yoghurt as a starter and then continue using your yoghurt as a starter and so on.

I go through phases of making yoghurt – it is easy to do – you just need a little bit of time and a supply of milk and some bought yoghurt as a starter.

Two Very Good Books

The Yoghurt Book Food of the Gods by Arto der Haroutunian – first published in 1983.

Mine is an old copy.  I think it might be out of print but there are second hand copies available for sale  eg on Amazon.

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Eat Well The YoChee Way by Nikki & David Goldbeck – 2001

This book is American & YoChee is the authors name for yoghurt cheese.

My Method For Making Yoghurt

  • I use a wide-necked vacuum flask, it holds about 750 ml (it must be wide necked or you will have difficulties cleaning it). I fill it with boiling water to sterilise it and heat it up. I leave this with the water in whilst the milk is cooling down – then I pour out the water and add the yoghurt mix.  I often make this at night and it is ready  in the morning. You can make it in the morning and it should be ready in the evening.

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  • Now that milk is pasteurised you need a yoghurt starter, Greek yoghurt is good, once you have made some of your own, you can then use that to start the next batch.
  • You need milk –  you can use whole milk or semi skimmed – you can use skimmed milk but I prefer the others.
  • I have a tall milk pan which is very useful as there is height for the milk to rise without spilling all over the cooker top.

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  • Bring the milk to the boil and then let it cool to 37 to 40 degrees o C, if you dip in a finger tip it must feel just lukewarm, no hotter than body temperature, and you should be able to keep your finger there for a count of 10 without it being too hot or you can use a cook’s thermometer.  This is important, too hot will kill the bacteria, too cold may not be warm enough for the bacteria to grow.
  • Mix a large tablespoon of yoghurt into the milk, about 1 tablespoon to 500ml of milk.
  • You then have to leave the mixture in a warm place to grow.
  • You can put the mixture in a clean, sterilized with boiling water, bowl and cover this with a cloth and leave it overnight  or about 12 hours. This is the easiest method in the summer or if you have a warm but not too hot spot in the house.
  • I empty the hot water from my vacuum flask and pour in the milk & yoghurt mixture,  put on the stopper and the lid and leave for around 10 hours.
  • I have used a thermostatically controlled yoghurt maker in the past and you put the mixture into little pots and left them.  I found this did not make much yoghurt in one go and there was a lot to clean out and sterilise. I started to use the vacuum flask method and have stayed with that but some of the new electric makers now have just one large pot and I think they may be easier to use.
  • Once it is made, pour it into a bowl or tub and refrigerate the yoghurt,  it tastes so much better and fresher that any bought ones.  I bought some plastic food storage tubs with lids specially for this.

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At this point you can start again and when you have loads you will start to think “maybe I will make some yoghurt cheese from this” and on it goes!

With the yoghurt, sometimes I eat it plain, or use it instead of milk with muesli or other cereals, dried fruits and nuts. Mostly though I add fruit to it, chopped fresh fruit sprinkled with a bit of icing sugar, stewed fruit or tinned fruit. I love it with stewed prunes! It is super with just a spoonful of runny honey.  Sometimes I use it as a salad dressing on its own or mixed with mayonnaise.

Making Yoghurt Cheese

Also known  as YoChee  and in the Middle East as labna  or labneh.

Traditional Method

The yoghurt cheese is made by putting  yoghurt into a muslin cloth and tying it up and letting the whey drain off from the curds. This will take many hours and is best done in a cool place.

Modern Straining Method

I bought a little device from Lakeland Plastics which is a modern version of the hanging muslin cloth. It is a plastic tub with a stainless steel fine mesh sieve which hangs in the box.  You then put on a plastic lid and then put the tub in the fridge.

I leave this to strain for at least 24 hours  – often up to 48 hours.

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Sometimes I buy a 1kg tub of Greek yoghurt to make the cheese if  I do not have any of my own – this is more than enough for the tub.

Yoghurt Cheese as it comes out of the pot.

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It is a soft, fresh tasting cheese.

I eat it uncooked either plain or with chopped onions, chives or garlic, with chopped dates and banana or jam and so on, the list is endless.

I use yoghurt cheese in Polish recipes instead of twaróg – Polish curd cheese  to make baked cheesecake or Polish style ravioli with either sweet curd cheese or savoury with potatoes, onions and curd cheese and much, much more.

I would use this home made cheese within a week as it does not of course have the shelf life of commercially, often vacuum packed, cheeses. 

This morning for breakfast I had some freshly made yoghurt cheese on toast with some morello cherry jam which my friend had made a couple of weeks ago from cherries growing on her allotment.

It was delicious!

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The cheese is wonderful with other slightly tart jams such as blackcurrant or damson.

By the Way – Whey is a useful by-product

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Tub of whey you can keep in the fridge.

The liquid whey that is in the bottom of the tub can be saved and used instead of water, milk or buttermilk in making scones and soda bread etc or you can add it to soups.