Placek with Figs

  • This placek – flat cake- has a filling of bakalie – dried fruit and nuts – there are lots of figs in this mixture, which make it extra delicious.
  •  The pastry used is a variation on my Polish  kruche ciasto – shortcrust pastry.

Ingredients – Pastry

  • 225g plain flour
  • 110g butter
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons of water
  • *
  • 1 tablespoon of caster sugar to sprinkle

Ingredients – Filling

  • 190g dried figs – chopped
  • 60g currants
  • 60g raisins
  • 60g walnuts – chopped
  • 60g soft dark brown sugar
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 125ml water

Method – Filling

This filling needs to be cold – so make this first.

  • Put all the ingredients into a small pan and heat gently.
  • Stir occasionally until the mixture is soft and the water is adsorbed.
  • A little more water might be needed and more heating.

Method – Pastry

  • A rich pastry is made in the traditional rubbed in method with the ingredients listed above.
  • Chill the pastry for around 30 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C.
  • Grease and line a shallow tray 21cm x 26cm.
  • Divide the pastry into two.
  • Roll out one piece to line the bottom of the tin.
  • Spread the filling evenly over the pastry – not quite to the edges.
  • Roll the second piece of pastry out and use to cover the filling.
  • Press the edges down to seal.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes until golden.
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the caster sugar.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • Cut into squares when cold.

Hand painted Paragon plates.

Friends who tried this said “Please make this again!”

Custard Tart

  • Whilst trying out some old English recipes I made this custard tart.
  • It is made with a shortcrust pastry case, which is filled with an egg custard.
  • Ground nutmeg is a popular spice in England.

I think that this would be liked in Poland as it is similar to Budyń – Polish custard which is also made from milk, egg yolks and sugar.

  • Shortcrust pastry or a richer pastry such as  kruche ciasto is used.
  • The pastry case is baked blind first in a loose bottomed tart tin.
  • This can be made the day before.

Ingredients

  • Shortcrust pastry to line the base and sides of a 20cm diameter loose bottomed tin
  • 300ml of milk
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 4 eggs – beaten
  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C.
  • Roll out the pastry thinly and line the base and sides of the tin.
  • Bake blind for 15 minutes.
  • Take out the “beans” and bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Leave the pastry to become completely cold.
  • Lower the oven to GM4 – 180°C.
  • Put the tart tin on a baking sheet (makes it easier to handle).
  • Have the beaten eggs in a large bowl.
  • In a deep saucepan, add the sugar to the milk and gently bring to the boil, stirring a few times.
  • Pour the hot milk mixture onto the beaten eggs and whisk together quickly.
  • Allow the mixture to cool completely.
  • Pour the egg mixture into the baked pastry case.
  • Grate the nutmeg liberally over the surface of the custard.
  • Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until the custard is nearly set.
  • Turn of the oven and open the door slightly.
  • Leave the custard in the oven for around 15 minutes.
  • Take it out and leave to cool on a wire cake rack.
  • Leave it to cool before taking it out of the tin.
  • Serve at room temperature.

 

Tea plates:

  • Burleigh Ware – Burges and Leigh Ltd – Blue Mist from the 1930s
  • Aynsley – Las Palmas from the 1960s.

 

Mince Pies

I think of these as very British – but we all love them and they have become part of our Christmas Day celebrations. Originally the pies were made with meat and this idea of meat and spices came from the Middle East and it is thought to have been the brought back by the Crusaders.

I make these with the pastry that I learnt from my mother  – a variation on kruche & półkruche,  pastry (a richer shortcrust pastry).  Using the proportion of 2 parts flour to 1 part butter.

Ingredients

Pastry

200g plain flour

100g butter or block margarine

1-2 tablespoons of icing sugar

1 egg yolk

Juice of 1 lemon (and maybe 1 tablespoon of cold water)

Glaze

Lightly beaten egg white

Caster sugar

Mincemeat

I always make my own mincemeat using the recipe in Delia Smith’s Christmas cookery book but without the chopped almonds (I do not like the crunch of the nuts).

 

 

 

 

 

When making the pies I add a little extra brandy or sherry to the mincemeat and stir it in.

My tins are anodised aluminium and have a gentle rounded shape, this I think make for the perfect balance between the pastry and the filling.

I put “tops” on my mince pies – but not fully covered ones.

The tops are brushed with beaten egg white and sprinkled with caster sugar.

 

Method for pastry

Rub the butter into the flour to make “breadcrumbs”.

Mix in the icing sugar.

First with a knife and then with your fingertips mix in the yolk & lemon juice (and  maybe a tablespoon of cold water.)

You are aiming to get a dough which is not wet.

Rest for about 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C

You need to grease the tins well in order to get the pies out successfully.

I often use the pastry in two halves.

2 sizes of cutters are needed – 1 – 7cm diameter, plain, for the base, 1 – 6cm diameter, crinkle edge for the top.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut out the bases and place them in the tins

Place around a tablespoonful of mincemeat on the pastry.

Place the smaller tops on.

Lightly beat the egg white and brush this on the tops

Sprinkle caster sugar over the egg white.

Bake for around 15 minutes – keeping an eye on them – so they do not burn.

Leave to cool slightly in the tins & carefully remove them onto a rack to fully cool.

 

Tea-plate is Stardust by Colclough from the 1960s.

 

Mince pies on buffet table

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Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche

This was originally posted in June 2017 – I updated it in September 2019. 

There are two classic pastries, kruche and półkruche in Poland & the most difficult part is trying to get a good translation of the names.

Ciasto kruche

Ciasto is pastry and the word kruche means brittle, fragile or crumbly and ciasto kruche is often translated as shortcrust pastry – however it is quite different to British shortcrust pastry – in someways it is nearer to shortbread.

Having done a lot more research, I now think it is what is called in French – pâte sucrée.

This pastry is used to make a Polish cake called Mazurek of which there are many versions.

Ciasto półkruche

The pół part of the word półkruche means half or semi – but semi-shortcrust pastry does not really explain much!

This pastry is often used to make a Polish cake called placek  – a flat cake.

Served here on tea plates – Colclough – Enchantment 1950s – 1960s.

Both of these pastries are much richer than shortcrust pastry.

Ciasto kruche

The 4 ingredients are

  • plain flour
  • butter
  • icing sugar and
  • egg yolks (and a pinch or two of salt)

Notes

  • Use a flour which is low in gluten  – a cake flour not  a bread flour.
  • Butter give the best results but block  margarine can be used .
  • The pastry is fragile due to its high fat content.
  • Use just egg yolks (raw or hard boiled ), because the protein in the whites makes pastry tougher.
  • Using cooked egg yolks gives a more  in crumbly pastry.

Ratios for kruche

  • 3 flour:  2 Butter:  1 Icing sugar
  • or
  • 2 flour: 1 butter:  ½ – 1 Icing sugar
  • Usually – 1 yolk per 100g flour
  • A pinch or two of salt.

 

Ciasto półkruche

Here flour, butter, icing sugar and egg yolks (and a pinch or two of salt) are also used but there can be other additions such as:

  • baking powder
  • egg whites
  • soured cream or milk,
  • granulated sugar  or vanilla sugar
    .

The proportions of the main ingredients are different in that półkruche has a lower fat content than kruche.

Ratios półkruche

  • 2 flour: 1 butter
  • or
  • 3 flour: 1 Butter

Both kruche  and  półkruche are  baked in an oven heated  at GM5 – 190°C or GM6 – 200° C,  for 20 to 25 minutes.

Ciasto kruche 1 – using raw egg yolks

Ingredients

  • 340g plain flour
  • 170g butter – chilled
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt.

Method

  • Add a pinch of salt to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Add the yolks and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.
  • Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and avoid touching the dough with warm hands, as it increases its temperature and this leads to increased use of flour.
  • Once the dough has been kneaded, cool (at least 30 minutes in the centre of the refrigerator and up to 2 hours) and then roll out to the desired shape and size.
  • Roll out the dough and shape it as required.

Note

As this dough is very crumbly – I often find I have to piece and press the dough into the cake tin.

 Ciasto kruche 2 – with cooked egg yolks

I have seen recipes using hard boiled yolks and always thought “Strange! – having tried this out – I found that this is the best pastry ever!  Delicious & crisp.

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 200g butter – chilled
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 3 cooked egg yolks
  • pinch or two of salt.

There are 2 ways of cooking the egg yolks:

1 – Hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes, allow to cool and separated the cooked yolks from the whites (this give you cooked egg whites to add to salads or similar). Use a fork to break up the yolks into very small pieces.

 

 

2 – Separate the raw yolks from the whites, then place these in a colander and cook over hot water (this gives you raw egg whites to use in other recipes).

Method

  • Add a pinch of salt to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Add the broken up yolks and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.
  • Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Ciasto półkruche -1

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 150g butter
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 egg & 2 yolks
  • 1 – 2  tablespoons of soured cream
  • pinch of salt

Method

  • Add a pinch of salt and the baking powder to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yolks and the soured cream and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a soft dough
  • Try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Because of the use of baking powder this dough is used straight away.
  • I tend to flatten and shape this dough by hand rather than using a rolling pin.

 

 

 

 

Ciasto półkruche -2

  • 500g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 200g butter
  • 150g icing sugar
  • 2 eggs & 1 yolk
  • 4 -5 tablespoons of soured cream

 

Method

  • Add a pinch of salt and the baking powder to the flour.
  • Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.
  • Add the icing sugar and mix this together.
  • Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yolk and the soured cream and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a soft dough
  • Try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Because of the use of baking powder this dough is used straight away.
  • I tend to flatten and shape this dough by hand rather than using a rolling pin.