Caraway Seed Cake

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 cake.

Caraway – Image from Wikapedia

 

I have looked in all my recipe books and I have not found any use of caraway in Polish cake.

So I have gone to what by many is seen as an old-fashioned  quintessential British cake – Seed Cake – which is  Caraway Seed Cake.

This cake has been popular since the 17th century and especially  in Victorian times  and the 1920s and 1930s.

Caraway Seeds are thought to aid digestion – so this is a good cake to have at the end of a meal.

I have found several variations – this is one that has worked for me & I am sure it would be well received in Poland!

I have tried this out in 2 different shapes of tins.

Ingredients

110g butter

110g caster sugar

2 eggs – beaten

150g self-raising flour – sifted

25g ground almonds

3 tablespoons of milk

3 rounded teaspoons of caraway seeds

Several crushed sugar cubes or 1 level tablespoon of Demerara sugar for the round cake and 1/2 a tablespoon for the loaf.

 

Version 1

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Grease a 19cm round cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

Mix the flour, ground almonds and caraway together in a little bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a larger bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until they are pale and fluffy.

Beat in the eggs a little at a time.

Using a metal spoon fold in the flour mixture.

Add the milk to give a good dropping consistency.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and level off the top.

Sprinkle the top with the sugar.

 

Bake for between 35 – 40 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes.

 

 

 

Version 2

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Line a “1lb” loaf tin with a tin liner or grease and line the tin with greasproof paper.

Make the mixture as in version 1.

Sprinkle the top with the 1/2 tablespoon of Demerara sugar.

Bake for between 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool in the tin for 15 minutes.

Once cold, wrap in foil and keep in an air tight container.

 

 

Lemon Cream Roulade

This cake is a roulade – in Polish  – rolada.

I made this cake for my nephew when he came to visit recently as he loves cakes with lemons.

You need to make the sponge for a “Swiss roll” and then fill it with lemon cream.

The sponge cake made using potato flour is very Polish but fresh double cream is not usually found in Polish cookery – soured cream is the norm.  Also lemon curd I think of as quite British although I did come across something similar in one of my Polish cooks books.   You can make your own lemon curd but I  use Sicilian lemon curd from Marks & Spencer as I think this is so lemony.

 

I made the sponge using the recipe  Biszkopt – Sponge Cake using Potato Flour

Or to be easier, use the English Style fat free sponge recipe from

Sponge with Sweet Orange Jam

Use the instructions for how to make and roll the roulade from the first recipe.

Both of  these recipes use 2 eggs.

Lemon Cream

I used a large tub of double cream 250ml/300ml – it was more than enough – I did not use it all.

I would think that 200ml of double cream would be enough.

I  whisked this up till it was thick and stiff.

I then added 3 -4 tablespoons of lemon curd and whisked again.

Unroll the cold sponge, spread it with the cream and roll up again.

Dredge with icing sugar

 

Cake Plate H & K Tunstall

 

 

Served on – Tuscan China – Bird of Paradise – Hand Painted – 1930s

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Drizzle Cake

This is not a Polish recipe but my nephew loves cakes with lemons and after trying many versions this is the one I baked for him especially when he came to visit recently.  I will be sticking with this recipe from now on.

Ingredients

Cake

175g butter or block margarine

175g caster sugar

3 eggs

Zest of 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

160g self-raising  flour

Drizzle

Juice of 1 lemon

110g caster sugar

Method

Grease and line a large (2lb) loaf tin – or use a ready bought liner.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180oC

Cream the butter and sugar till soft and fluffy

Add the lemon zest and mix again.

Add the eggs, 1 by 1, and mix well.

Add the juice of 1 lemon and mix well.

Fold in the flour with a metal spoon.

Put the mixture into the loaf tin and gently level the top.

 

Bake for around 50 – 60 minutes – check after 40 minutes and cover the top with greaseproof paper if needed to prevent the top burning.

Leave to cool slightly in the tin and then remove and place on a cake rack and allow to cool a little more.

Prepare the drizzle by mixing the sugar and lemon juice until it dissolves.

Remove the greaseproof paper or liner and place the cake onto a plate (a long rectangular one with a lip around the side is the best ) so that the base is flat and excess drizzle does not run off.

Prick the top of the cake with a skewer

Gently spoon all the drizzle over the top of the cake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Placek with Chocolate, Nuts & Sultanas

I have been making this placek (low flat cake) for years but I cannot remember where I got the recipes from.

The cake varies every time I make it as I alter the type or amount of each chocolate used and I also alter the dried fruit and nuts.

It is not quite a Polish recipe as  Demerara sugar is used rather than granulated & this is not a typical Polish ingredient.

Sugar

Sugar is produced from either sugar cane (a perennial grass) or sugar beet (a tap root).  When sugar cane is refined you get lots of partially refined products such as: treacle, golden syrup, Demerara sugar & various other brown sugars.

Demerara sugar is so named after a region in Guyana where it was first produced.

When sugar beet is used to make sugar you do not get all these brown sugars.

In Poland the main sugar products on sale are granulated sugar and icing sugar, also you can find vanilla sugar, for baking, which is sold in little sachet which contain one tablespoon of sugar.

Ingredients

120g butter or block margarine

120g Demerara sugar

2 eggs

120g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

100g chopped chocolate (can be a mixture of dark, milk & white)

100g chopped nuts

80g sultanas (or currants or raisins)

Note

I think dried cranberries might work well here  but have not tried these as yet.

Method

Grease and line a 21 x 26 cms baking tray.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Chop the nuts and the chocolate.

Mix the nuts, chocolate & sultanas together.

 

 

Cream together the butter and Demerera sugar.

Mix in the vanilla essence and the eggs.

Mix in the nut mixture.

Gently fold in the flour.

Put the mixture into a baking tray.

Bake for around 30 – 35 minutes.

 

 

Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into squares to serve.

 

Served on Royal Grafton – Woodside – 1950s

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Piernik – Honey Spice Cake

Pierna is an old Polish word for spices and  piernik is a cake made with honey and spices.

Some sources say the name is from pieprz – pepper or piorun – thunderbolt or devil – because of its spiciness.

These cakes have been known in Poland since the 12th century and the spices would have come from Turkey (originally brought back by the crusaders) or India.

The very first recipes were just honey, flour (wheat or rye) and spices.

Honey was the original sweetener, long before sugar, and when you travel in Poland you will find many village ladies selling their own honey, the taste varies greatly depending on where the bees have found their flowers and the honey from a forest region is very dark and full of flavour.

Piernik  can vary  from being a soft dense cake to a drier but soft biscuit.

The Polish town of  Toruń is famous for its piernik and  Chopin was very found of this.

Pierniki (plural) coated with chocolate are called Katarzynki –  which means Katherine’s cakes – named after Katarzyna the daughter of one of the bakers.

Similar cakes are found throughout Europe including the French pain d’éspices, the Dutch peperkoek and the German lebkuchen.

Piernik is often translated as  Gingerbread but ginger is only rarely used!

The main spices used are cinnamon , cloves and cardamom with the addition according to different recipes of: aniseed, black pepper, caraway, coriander, nutmeg, dried orange and/or lemon peel and then in later recipes allspice which is from the New World.

Spice Mixture for Piernik

Having looked at many recipes I have made my own basic 3 spice mixture – to which I can add other spices if I want a variation.

I have mixed equal parts of ground cinnamon, cloves & cardamom & saved them in a jar.

 

In Polish shops in England you can buy ready mixed spices for piernik.

This little packet contains around 2 tablespoons.

You can use the mixed spice mixture which is sold by Marks & Spencer which contains: dried orange peel, cassia (a variety of cinnamon), ginger, nutmeg, pimento (allspice) and caraway.

 

 

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 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 have been looking through my many recipe books and there are just dozens of different recipes & I have been trying some of these out.

Many of the recipes have the addition of chopped nuts and/or mixed peel – I have not added these to my tests as I just wanted to try out the “basic” recipe.

Some of the recipes were for large quantities & I have cut them down in size.  Many do not give baking tin sizes or oven temperatures – so I have done a bit of trial and error with some of the ones I have done.

In many of the recipes the dough or batter once mixed up is left for up to 3 weeks before baking.  This indeed is a slow fermentation!

Even if the piernik is mixed and baked on the same day, most of them benefit from being wrapped and left for several days before serving.

The recipes in this post are ones you mix and bake on the same or the next day.

My mother made miodownik  – honey spice cake (which could be classed as a piernik). Hers is a more moist cake using vegetable oil, which is certainly a more modern ingredient.

This first recipe is adapted from a recently bought little cookbook.

The honey used in the book was given as fir tree honey – this would be a dark honey and would make the cake very dark.

(I remember getting some of this when one of my cousins came from Poland – it was nearly black!)

The honey you use will make a difference to the colour and flavour of the cake. I have used a basic clear type honey.

As only honey is used in this recipe, I think this one  is nearer the old recipes.

Piernik 1

Ingredients

450g plain flour

350g runny honey

125g butter or block margarine

Grated rind of a 1 lemon

1 egg – beaten

100ml of milk

1 + 1/2 teaspoons of spices

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.

Grease and line a large loaf tin – mine is longer than the regular 2lb tin.

Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan.

Mix together the spices, bicarbonate of soda and salt & add these to the flour in a large bowl.

Add the egg, the milk and the lemon rind and mix together.

Add the honey and the milk and mix together till you have a uniform smooth consistency.

Put the mixture into the tin and smooth the top.

Bake for around 50 minutes – checking a little earlier & cover with greaseproof paper it it looks like burning on the top if you need more time.

Leave to cool in the tin.

 

Wrap in foil to store.

The piernik can be dusted with icing sugar, topped with icing or with chocolate icing – of course these are relatively modern additions to the medieval piernik!

Variation

Addition of pepper

I made the piernik as above with the addition of 1/2 a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper with the spices.

I did not think it added much to the flavour – I was expecting it to be a little peppery!

 

Piernik 2

This little honey recipe book has around 2 dozen recipes for piernik  to choose from! (miód is Polish for honey)

 

 

Ingredients

400g plain flour

1 tablespoonful of butter

120g of granulated sugar

2 eggs

250g runny honey

125ml of milk

1 teaspoon of baking soda

2 teaspoons of spices

Method

Warm the honey slightly.

Put the flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter.

Add the sugar,  bicarbonate of soda and the spices.

Mix in the eggs.

Add the honey

Add the milk & mix to give a very thick batter.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave it in a cool place for a couple of hours.

Grease & line a 32cm by 22cm baking tin.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 -190°C.

Put the cake mixture into the tin and spread it out.

Bake for around 30 minutes (check earlier  and cover if it looks like burning.)

Leave in the tin to cool.

Wrap in foil and leave for a couple of days .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tea plate is Sonnet by Royal Doulton, 1971 to 1998.

This piernik can be dusted with icing sugar, topped with icing or with chocolate icing.

It can also be cut into 2 slabs which are then sandwiched together with powidła which 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 before in glass jars, this product is in a plastic tub

 

 

Pierniczki – Small Honey Cakes

Pierniczki are a small cake or biscuit version of piernik.

For  Święty MikołajDecember 6thSt Nicholas Day I often buy packets of these glazed with clear or white icing or chocolate (You can get them in lots of shops nowadays including Lidl & Aldi) but sometimes I make them myself as they are very easy & delicious.

Ingredients

280g plain flour

1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

180g of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of  spice

100g of runny honey

2 eggs

Optional

Icing sugar to dust

Method

Pre heat the oven to GM 5 – 190oC

Grease several baking sheets.

In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients together.

Beat the eggs lightly and mix these and the honey into the dry ingredients.

Place tablespoons well apart on the greased sheets and bake for about 10 minutes.

They do spread quite a bit.

Leave to cool for a few minutes on the tray and then put the on a wire rack to cool and the dust with icing sugar.

Pierniczki – Small Honey Cakes (filled)

The dough for these is made the evening before.

Ingredients

120g runny honey

60g granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of spice

40g of butter

250g of plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1 large egg

Filling

Powidła, apricot or sour cherry jam

Optional

Lightly beaten egg white for a glaze

Method

Heat the honey in a saucepan over a moderate heat and add the sugar and spices, stirring all the time for about 3 to 4 minutes so that the sugar is dissolved but do not let the honey boil.

Remove from the heat and allow it to cool.

In a separate pan melt the butter and then set that aside to cool.

In a large bowl add the baking powder to the flour.

Pour in the honey mixture, melted butter and the egg and mix with a a wooden spoon to form a soft dough.

Transfer to a small bowl and cover with a cloth and refrigerate overnight.

The next day -take out for 15 minutes before using.

Grease several baking sheets.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C

You need a 6cm round cutter.

Cut the dough into halves or thirds.

Roll out the dough till it is thin and cut out circles.

Place a largish teaspoon of the powidła or jam on the middle of the circle (going for height).

 

 

The more jam the better but it can be hard to seal the circles – takes a bit of practice!

Place another circle on top and press the edges together firmly.

 

You can brush the tops with beaten egg white.

Place on the baking sheet – leaving some space between circles.

 

Bake for 15 minutes – checking earlier as they burn easily.

Leave to cool slightly on the tin before placing them on a wire rack.

 

Dust them with icing sugar.

Served on tea plates – Counterpoint by Royal Doulton 1973 – 1987.

Easy unfilled option

I think once you have tried the jam filled ones, these will be the only ones you want!

However if you want a harder biscuit to decorate with icing  then just place single circles on the baking trays and bake for 8 – 10  minutes – you really need to keep an eye on these as they burn very easily.

These come out as a quite hard biscuit.

These can be decorated with icing or chocolate icing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tea Soaked Fruit Cake

This cake recipe is one I came across recently and I like it because it uses tea – a drink well loved in Poland.

It is similar to a keks which is usually made in a loaf tin but I like to make this one in a round tin.

The recipe uses 8 tea bags and I think Earl Grey,  Lady Grey & Empress Grey tea bags are really good. (If you do not have tea bags then use 8 teaspoons of loose tea, but have it in a muslin bag as you do not want the tea leaves in the cake.)

I have used dried fruits consisting just of currants, raisins, sultanas & peel.

You could make it more Polish by using a bakalie mixture which also has chopped dates, figs & prunes, however I would not add nuts – or if you want to use them – add them after the overnight soaking.

Ingredients

500g mixed dried fruit

8 tea bags (Earl Grey, Lady Grey or Empress Grey)

300ml boiling water

500g self-raising flour

325g butter or block margarine

1 teaspoon mixed spice

pinch of salt

5 eggs

Method

Place the teabags in a large bowl and add the boiling water and stir to make a very strong tea.

Add the dried fruit and stir well.

Leave the fruit to soak overnight.

 

Pre-heat your oven to GM 3 ,  150°C.

Grease and line a 23cm loose bottom or a spring-form tin.

Place the flour and butter or margarine into a large bowl and use your finger tips to rub in the fat until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

In a bowl mix the sugar, salt & mixed spice thoroughly.

Add the sugar mixture to the flour & butter mixture and stir well.

Add the eggs and the soaked fruit and all the remaining liquid and stir well.

 

Pour the mixture into the baking tin and level the top.

Bake in the  oven for 1 hour 40 minutes.

Check after an hour and place a piece of foil or greaseproof  paper on the top if it is beginning to burn.

Check to see if the cake is done with a cake tester or skewer.

NoteThis cake is large and you run the risk of having it underdone in the middle – make sure it is cooked in the middle when testing.

Leave to cool in the tin.

P1030671

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Served on tea plates – Greenway  Hostess – design by John Russell, 1960 – 1979.

Smaller Sized Cake

This cake is large so I thought I would have a go at making a smaller version.

There are 5 eggs in the original recipe so I  decided to do a 3 egg version.

To make it more Polish, I used a bakalie mixture which had chopped dates, figs, peel & prunes as well as the currants, raisins & sultanas.

Ingredients

300g bakalie or dried mixed fruit

5 tea bags (Earl Grey, Lady Grey or Empress Grey)

200ml boiling water

300g self-raising flour

200g butter or block margarine

1 teaspoon mixed spice

pinch of salt

3 eggs

 

Method

As above – using a 20cm tin.

Bake for around 1 hour 20 minutes – checking after 50 minutes and covering if necessary with a piece of greaseproof paper to stop the top burning.

Note

Maybe because of the different dried fruits I thought it came out drier than the large one & I served it sliced with some butter.

However I have found that if you wrap the cake in aluminium foil for a day or two – it improves – becoming  more moist.

 

Served on tea plates – La prune – by Jet for Ter Steege in The Netherlands.

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