Two months to Christmas and I am posting this recipe so you have time to prepare for then.
I have tried out several piernik – honey spice cake recipes & many of them have been dreadful!
But at last I have found one that I am happy to share – I would describe it as a sort of soft biscuit.
This is piernik staropolski (in the old Polish style) and is a recipe which takes time to make, as the mixture is left for several weeks before it is baked – (10 days is the absolute minimum). This maturing enhances the flavour of the spices.
I have been reading that some people make their dough even earlier say in September before they bake it
This piernik is baked for Święty Mikołaj – St Nicholas Day – December 6th and for Wigilia – Christmas Eve – December 24th.
The science for this will be really interesting – I presume it is a slow fermentation that is taking place & the high honey/sugar content, low temperature & access to air prevents the dough from spoiling.
- 250ml runny honey
- 125g Trex™ **
- 230g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs – lightly beaten
- 550g plain flour (may need more)
- 2 teaspoons of mixed spices or piernik mix (ground cinnamon, cloves, cardamom in equal parts)
- large pinch of salt
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 70 ml of warm milk
- 250g mixed dried fruit (raisins, peel, chopped dates and figs)
** The original recipe uses lard (pork fat) – I used Trex™ – a white solid vegetable fat.
- Put the honey, sugar and Trex in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring the mixture till all the Trex is melted and the sugar dissolved.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
- Mix the flour, salt & spices together.
- Add this to the honey mixture and mix together first with a wooden spoon.
- Add the beaten eggs to the mixture.
- Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add this to the dough and mix till you have a thick dough.
- Knead this dough lightly for around 5 minutes (add more flour if the mixture is too wet).
- Add in the dried fruits and knead them in lightly.
- Form the dough into a ball.
- Place the dough in a glass or ceramic bowl – not a metal one.
- Cover with a linen or cotton cloth – tie the string around it to keep it covered.
- Do not use cling film – as air needs to circulate.
- You could use foil but you would need to prick in some air holes.
- Place in a cool place (mine was put into my cool cellar) for a minimum of 10 days and up to 4 weeks.
- I left mine for 2 weeks.
- Ensure that the dough will not pick up any unwanted flavours such as onions or garlic by carefully choosing the place you store it.
- Pre-heat the oven to GM2 – 150°C
- Grease and line a 2 baking tins – 22 x 33 cm.
- Take the ball of dough out of the bowl and cut it into two.
- Flatten each piece lightly and make into a rough rectangular shape – can use a rolling pin.
- Place this into the tim and with fingers push and press it into all the sides of the tin.
- You can use the blunt end of a rolling pin.
- Repeat for the other
- Bake for around 55 -65 minutes – checking after 40 minutes and covering with greaseproof paper if it is starting to burn.
- Leave the piernik to cool in the tin.
- When it is cold, wrap it loosely in greaseproof paper and then a clean linen tea towel and leave in a cool place for 2 -3 days.
- Cut each cake into two or three rectangles.
- Remove the crusts – optional.
- Dust with icing sugar or coat in chocolate melted with butter (40g butter : 100g dark chocolate).
- You can use a thin white icing semi glaze instead of the chocolate.
- You can store the piernik in an airtight tin – I think the chocolate coating helps to keep it longer.
Slices served on Queen Anne china tea plates.