Placek – Derbyshire Inspired

A few months ago I went on a craft week in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) and as always I was looking out for new recipes and ideas.

I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt.  Now in the past, every cake I have made with yoghurt in the ingredients was not a success with it either being straight to bird table or straight to bin!

Anyway, I tried this one out and was really pleased with the results.

I used Greek style full fat yoghurt and I am sure low or no fat yoghurt would not do! – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.

I have made a few alterations to the original recipe.

It is similar to a Polish placek (flat cake) and baked in a rectangular tray.

Ingredients

250g butter or block margarine

225g caster sugar

150ml of Greek style yoghurt (full fat)

4 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or the fine grated rind of 1 lemon

280g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Blackcurrant jam or sour cherry jam or other slightly tart jam

50g of dessicated coconut

Method

Grease and line 22 x 32 baking tin – use 1 piece of greaseproof to do the 2 long sides and base.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180 C

Mix together the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla essence or lemon rind.

Mix together the flour and the baking powder.

Beat together the butter and sugar .

Add the yoghurt and egg mixture and beat well.

Add the flour mixture and beat till you have a unified smooth mixture.

Using a big spoon and spatula put the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully take the cake out of the oven and place large teaspoon ‘blobs’ of jam on the top – I did 12 teaspoons at even intervals.

Drench the top with the coconut and quickly put it back in the oven.

Bake for around another 25 minutes.

 

 

 

Place on a cooking rack and leave until it is cold to take out of the tin.

Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.

 

 

As a nod to Derbyshire, I used my Royal Crown Derby – Derby Posies – teaplates to serve.

They are marked  XXV which indicates 1972.

Variations

I think that the basic batter of this cake lends itself to quite a few variations – I intend to try some of these out in the coming months.

Placek

Placek is a low flat cake and can be  round or rectangular in shape.

I made two using  each of the recipes in  ciasto półkruche  – a type of shortcrust pastry – with jam fillings and both turned out well.

Placek with jam

Grease and line a 32 x 22 tin

Pre-heat the oven  GM5 – 190°C

Use half the dough and roll it out to fit the tin.

Spread the dough with jam – you will need around a jar.

Cover the top with the rest of the dough rolled out.

Bake for around 30 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar as soon as you take it out of the oven and leave to cool.

Placek with Blackcurrant Jam

 

Served on – Colclough – Enchantment-  1950 – 1960s

Placek with Sour Cherry Jam

 

Served on – Duchess – Bramble Rose – 1960s

 

 

 

Mazurek – With Kajmak

Mazurek is the name of a Polish cake which often uses a type of pastry similar to shortcrust  or shortcake.  It is usually made in a square or rectangular shape.

Bake a mazurek base using one of the ciasto kruche  –  pastry recipes and allow it to cool.

Fill the hollow with kajmak.

Mazurek with kajmak

You can decorate the top with nuts and / or dried fruit – this gives you an opportunity to be creative with the decorations.

 

Alleluja is often written on top at Easter time.

Here served on tea plates by Colclough – Stardust 1950s – 1960s

 

Mazurek with kajmak and jam

As a contrast to the sweetness of the kajmak you can use a tart jam such blackcurrant or sour cherry jam.

Bake a mazurek base and allow it to cool.

Cover the hollow created with a thin layer of jam.

 

 

 

 

Blackcurrant jam was used here.

Cover the jam with a layer of kajmak.

Decorate the top of the mazurek with nuts or dried fruits.

 

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.

IMG_20160222_120503215

 

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.

IMG_20160220_194430607

 

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.

IMG_20160220_210416121

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.

 

 

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