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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Tea Plates  – Silver Rose by Duchess

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Sauerkraut Salads

When cooking was much more seasonal this salad was extremely popular in winter when many other vegetables were unavailable.

Using bottled sauerkraut you can make this salad all year around.  You can also buy vacuum packed sauerkraut in many Polish shops.

Preparing the sauerkraut

There are two ways of preparing the sauerkraut. It all depends on the actual sauerkraut which varies with the home-made or vacuum packed  being milder usually than the bottled &  how sour you like it to be.

Sour is indeed a well loved taste in Poland and sour is a description you can apply to many Polish dishes. There will be more posts on this on the future.

These salads could be considered sweet & sour.

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For all the following salads I have used roughly 200g of sauerkraut which is easily enough as a side-dish for two people.

I think all the following salads benefit from being made a few hours ahead and left to allow the flavours to interact and mellow.

Preparation Method 1

Just take some of the sauerkraut and sieve of some of the liquor.

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Sieve off some of the liquor

Preparation Method 2

Put the sauerkraut into a jug or bowl and add some water to rinse off the liquor.

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Use Water to Rinse the Sauerkraut

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Rinse off the Water

My personal preference is to use method 1 with the sauerkraut just drained and not rinsed.

Sauerkraut & Apple Salad

Ingredients

Around 200g of Sauerkraut

1 tasty eating apple such as Jazz or Braeburn

2 to 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

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Method

Prepare the sauerkraut and put it in a dish.

Grate the apple, skin and flesh using a coarse grater and add this to the sauerkraut. Mix the two together.

Add the sunflower oil and sugar and mix well.

Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours before serving.

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Serving Dish by J & G Meakin – Topic – designed by Alan Rogers in 1967

In the restaurant in the Polish Centre in Leeds they serve a wonderful sauerkraut and carrot salad – secret recipe of course! – the following is the nearest I can get to it.

Sauerkraut & Carrot Salad 1

Ingredients

Around 200g of Sauerkraut

1 carrot

1 tasty eating apple such as Jazz or Braeburn

2 to 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

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Method

Prepare the sauerkraut and put it in a dish.

Peel and grate the carrot using a coarse grater.

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Grate the apple, skin and flesh, using a coarse grate.

Add the grated carrot and the apple  to the sauerkraut.

Mix them all together.

Add the sunflower oil and sugar and mix well.

Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours before serving.

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Mid 20th Century Pyrex Dish

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Serving Dish is Carnation by Royal Doulton 1982 to 1998

 

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Meat Loaf  and Sauerkraut & Carrot Salad

 

Sauerkraut & Carrot Salad 2

Ingredients (as salad 1 but less carrot)

Around 200g of Sauerkraut

Half a carrot

1 tasty eating apple such as Jazz or Braeburn

2 to 3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Method

Prepare the sauerkraut and put it in a dish.

Peel and grate the carrot using a coarse grater.

Grate the apple, skin and flesh, using a coarse grate.

Add the grated carrot and the apple  to the sauerkraut.

Mix them all together.

Add the sunflower oil and sugar and mix well.

Leave in a cool place for a couple of hours before serving.

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Tip

Once you have opened a jar of sauerkraut if you are not going to make something else with it in the next day or so you can portion it up and freeze it for later use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Cabbage

A few years ago on one of my  visits to The Netherlands to stay with my Dutch friend, we had a super meal which included a delicious dish of red cabbage that had been cooked with apples.

I thought then that I did not remember my mother ever cooking red cabbage. When I came home I found recipes in both my Polish and English cookery books and tried out many of these.

The following recipe has been refined and altered and this one  with lots of apples and spices is the one  I now use all the time.

As it takes a long time to cook in a low oven or in a slow cooker, I tend to make a lot at once. It freezes and reheats well, so once made I divide it into small portions to freeze.

I think it goes well with roast pork loin and I usually make some before Christmas and serve it with roast pork loin during the holiday period.

Tip 1

Have a lemon ready after handling the chopped red cabbage as you will find your hands become stained blue/purple. Lemon juice will clear the stains away.  Another reason to make this dish in advance.

Tip 2 – Also Excellent as a Salad

I have discovered that this dish is also delicious when it is cold!   I now also serve this with cold meats and Polish style sausage.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of red cabbage
  • 3 or 4 large cooking apples
  • 1 onion – chopped fine
  • 1 or 2 garlic cloves – chopped fine
  • 6 tablespoons of soft brown sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • ¼ level teaspoon of ground cloves
  • Salt & ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of cider or wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of water

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Method

  • Pre heat the oven to GM 2 or get your slow cooker ready..
  • You need a large oven-proof dish with a lid to make this.  I either use a very large oval enamel dish or I have now started to use a slow cooker.
  • I mix the ingredients in a large bowl first  and then put them in the cooking dish.
  • Mix together the sugar, spices, salt and pepper, vinegar and water.

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  • Remove the core from the cabbage head and cut the cabbage into fine shreds and add these to the spice mixture.

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  • Peel, core  and then coarse grate the apples and then add these to the cabbage mixture. Mix the ingredients with a wooden spoon.

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  • Put the mixture into the cooking dish (or slow cooker) and put in the oven (or switch on the slow cooker).

 

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  • It should take about  3-4 hours  – it may take longer in the slow cooker.

 

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Red Cabbage Ready to Serve
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Serving Dish is Cadiz by Meakin from the 1970s

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Carrot and Apple Salad

When cooking was more seasonal, this was a very popular salad in the late summer and autumn after the apple harvest.

Nowadays with better storage methods, this is a salad you can make all year round.

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Serving Dish is Royal Doulton, Carnation 1982 – 1998

The following will make enough for 2 people as a side dish  – use the ratio of 2 to 3 carrots to 1 small or medium eating apple if you want to make more.

Organic carrots may have the edge here for taste but regular ones will still be good.

Use sweet and tasty eating apples such as: Jazz, Pink Lady or Cox’s orange pippins.

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Ingredients

2 carrots

1 eating apple

1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

Juice of half a lemon

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Method

Peel the carrots and grate them using a coarse grater into a bowl.

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Cut the apple into quarters and remove the seed case.

Hold the apple by the skin and grate the flesh,

also using the coarse grater,  into the bowl.

Discard the apple skin.

Sprinkle the mixture with the sugar and add the lemon juice.

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Mix everything together, place into a serving dish and serve.

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Note

If you do not have any apples then just carrots with the sugar and lemon juice are also good.

Cake Stands in Glass and China

I just love cake stands.   They make the cakes look really special.

I started of with a few glass ones I got from my mother and now have at least seventeen.

Most are old, bought from charity shops and car boot sales.

I have also started buying china tiered ones.  These look better just placed around the dining room but I sometimes use them for small cakes, chocolates or fruit.

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A Selection of my Cake Stands

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This Cake Stand was one of my mother’s

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This Large Stand I bought in an antique shop in Poland. I managed to get it back in my Hand Luggage. It is very HEAVY.
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My most recent china purchase. Maybe a bit bright for cakes but lovely colours
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Another Bright Cake Stand

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An Egg Cup Holder. The egg cups were missing when I bought this.

Lead Crystal Cake Stand

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Etched Glass Cake Stand
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A Laura Ashley Cake Stand
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Pink Glass & China Cake Stands

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Cake Stands in my Cupboard

Babeczki for Wigilia - with Poppy Seed filling

Babeczki for Wigilia –  Christmas Eve –  with Poppy Seed filling on a Christmas Stand

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Two types of buns on a stand
Two types of buns on a stand