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.

IMG_20160130_192651306

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.

IMG_20151126_161842176
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)

IMG_20150707_200527058

Fine Grater – Microplane Graters are Super For Lemon Zest.

Microplane Professional Series

Method

Grease and flour a large babka tin.

IMG_20151210_071931092

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.

IMG_20150902_131105650

 

 

 

 

IMG_20150902_131036540

 

 

 

 

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.

 

IMG_20150902_165350657 IMG_20150902_165339825

IMG_20150902_165420273

IMG_20150902_165334611
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!

IMG_20151210_071926550
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

IMG_20160222_085342694

 

 

 

 

First using a long narrow tin

IMG_20160222_085422673

 

 

 

 

and secondly a 2lb loaf tin.

IMG_20160222_085433454

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_20151120_073255217

 

 

 

 

IMG_20150907_100000771

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

IMG_20150907_111020286

IMG_20150907_111214502

Dust the top with icing sugar

IMG_20150907_165858105

IMG_20150907_165908046

IMG_20150907_170256852 IMG_20150907_170224421

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_20150709_061756195
Weighing eggs

 

IMG_20151209_072508772_HDR
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).

IMG_20150824_150418237_HDR

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.

 

IMG_20160117_162535255

 

Karnawał – Carnival

The official end of the Christmas & Epiphany season is February 2nd which is 40 days(inclusive) after Christmas and is the feast of the Presentation of Christ in The Temple also known as Candlemas Day.  In Poland it is called Święto Matki Boskiej Gromnicznej – The feast of Our Lady of the Thunder Candles (as the blessed candles are used during thunder storms)

February 2nd is the start of karnawał  – carnival and the festivities leading up to the beginning of Lent which starts on Ash Wednesday.

During karnawał there is lots of dressing up in costumes such as beggars, chimney sweeps, goats, bears, horses or storks and going from farm to farm or house to house and there the revellers would be given food and drink.

The date of Ash Wednesday varies as it is based on the date for Easter which is calculated according to the Paschal full moon.

Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the spring equinox, which is the 21st of March. So the earliest date for Easter is the 22nd of March and the latest date is the 25th of April.

Ash Wednesday is six and a half weeks before Easter – calculated as 40 days but the Sundays are not included so it is in fact 46 days before Easter Sunday.

Therefore the earliest date for Ash Wednesday is the 4th of February and the latest date is the 10th of March.

In a year when Ash Wednesday is very early – I am sure that  karnawał  festivities would begin a little early!

After Christmas with all the wonderful food it seems like only a few days and it is time to prepare for Lent. All the rich food is used up before Lent, especially on the last day before Ash Wednesday.

In England it is Shrove Tuesday, in France Mardi Gras(Fat Tuesday), in Poland tłusty wtorek (Fat Tuesday) and in some parts of Poland there is also tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday) and then the last Tuesday can also be be called ostatki (last remnants).

In Poland chrusty and pączki (doughnuts) are made (pancakes are eaten throughout the year and do not feature here.)

My mother always made chrusty, doughnuts we got from other Polish ladies in the neighbourhood.

I was in Kraków once on tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday) and bought some doughnuts  – I found that these were very special ones made for that day made with rose petal jam.  I am afraid I did not like these – I am used to Polish plum jam or raspberry jam in Polish doughnuts and found theses too perfumed for me. (I have recently seen many English recipes made with rose petal jam – so maybe it is an acquired taste)   

Chrusty

Chrusty are deep fat fried, sugar dusted pastries.

These must be my favourite pastries which my mother would only make once or twice a year before Lent began.

When I was little before I started to help, I could never understand how she made these amazing shapes.

The name chrusty means “dry twigs” which may describe their appearance but not their taste!

You could call them ribbon shaped and in some parts of Poland they are called faworki from the French word  faveur which means  favour as in the coloured ribbons given by ladies to Medieval knights.

My aunty in The United States told me that nowadays they are popular there for weddings and other big parties not just during carnival and that Americans call them Angel wings.

I remember that my mother always fried these in vegetable oil.  During my research I have realised that originally they were fried in lard, and the books say that this makes them very tasty!

They taste best a few minutes after cooking, straight from the pan, when still slightly warm and dusted with icing sugar.  So being in the kitchen when they are being made is the best place to be!

Ingredients

300g plain flour

100g self-raising flour

50g butter

50g caster sugar

2 eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tablespoons of rum (or vodka and 2 drops of vanilla essence)

2 – 3 tablespoon of soured cream to mix (use double cream if not available)

Sunflower oil to deep fat fry

Icing sugar to dust

Method

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

Mix together the eggs, yolks and alcohol together. Make the decision on how much cream to use or not as you start to mix later.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the liquid.

Mix the liquid with the dry ingredients to make a  soft dough.  You can use a knife at first and then your hands.

If the dough needs some extra liquid then add the soured cream bit by bit.

Take about a third of the dough and roll it out on a floured board as thinly as possible.

Using a sharp knife cut strips which are strips 3 to 4 cm wide and about 15cm long, you can cut the short edges diagonally.

In each one cut a slit down the middle long ways and pull the short edge through to make a twist.

Repeat with the rest of the dough, try to use as much as possible in the first cutting but you can mix and re-roll the off-cuts.

Try not to add too much extra flour when re-rolling.

You can brush of excess flour with a pastry brush.

In a pan or fryer heat up the oil and deep fat fry the chrusty, about 2 or 3 at a time till they are golden.  They will rise to the top as they cook, turn them over using bamboo or wooden tongs.

Remove from the hot oil, using the frying basket or bamboo/wooden tongs.

Place onto kitchen roll and dust with icing sugar.

If you have any left put them in an airtight container when they are completely cold and add extra icing sugar when you serve them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

IMG_20160130_192651306

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.

IMG_20151210_102402590IMG_20151210_102407333_HDR

Grease and flour a babka tin

IMG_20151210_071931092

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.)

IMG_20160201_124213905
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

IMG_20160122_115232764

IMG_20160122_115446112 IMG_20160122_115431469 IMG_20160122_115339715 IMG_20160122_115323452 IMG_20160122_115312632

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

IMG_20160112_170556139 IMG_20160112_170548279 IMG_20160111_150948880 IMG_20160111_170817391

 

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

IMG_20160117_155144747

IMG_20160117_162535255

 

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.

IMG_20150805_064443123

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.

IMG_20150804_180730655
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.

IMG_20150804_202127960

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.

IMG_20150804_202910179

IMG_20150804_202121082

IMG_20150804_202846103
Plates are Burleigh Ware – Burges & Leigh Ltd —– Blue Mist around 1930s

 

IMG_20150805_064428554

 

IMG_20150805_065802235

IMG_20150805_065810762

 

 

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.

IMG_20151120_073217178

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

IMG_20151124_133153136

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.

IMG_20151215_073209814(1)

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.

IMG_20151120_074347436

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.

IMG_20151124_162509672

Dust with icing sugar before serving.

IMG_20151124_170307260(1)

Tea Plates  – Silver Rose by Duchess

IMG_20151124_170151987