Czekolada – Chocolate

A very brief history of chocolate

Chocolate originated in Central America around 2,000 years ago from the seeds of the cacao tree – Theobroma cacao.

Theo = god  &  broma = food  – means food of the gods

30 – 50 seeds (called beans) are found in a large pod.

It was consumed by the Aztecs & Mayans as a beverage.

Christopher Columbus took the cacao beans back to Spain in the middle of 16th Century and  within a hundred years it was established throughout Europe.

Chocolate in Europe was originally a beverage  and was sweetened to balance its bitter flavour.

In Spanish it is called is el chocolate which  comes from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztecs) word  xocolatl or chocolātl …. and so we get  czekolada in Polish and chocolate in English.

By the 19th century many processes had been invented which led to the modern solid form of chocolate

Famous Names in Chocolate.

Coenraad Johannes Van Houten, in 1815, introduced alkaline salts to reduce the bitterness & in 1828 reduced the natural fat – cacao butter  and produced  cocoa powder.

Joseph Fry learnt to make chocolate moldable by adding back the melted cacao butter.

Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by using powdered milk developed by Henri Nestlé.

Rodolphe Lindt invented the conching (method of mixing and reducing the particle size of cocoa solids) machine.

John Cadbury in 1824 had a grocer’s shop in Birmingham where he prepared ground cocoa. Moving to a factory in 1831.

Milton S. Hershey in 1893 purchased chocolate processing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

John Mackintosh had a confectionary business in Halifax from 1890.

Henry Isaaac Rowntree had a confectionery business  in York in 1862.

Joseph Terry was a  confectionery & chocolate maker in York from 1862.

Nowadays roughly two thirds of the world’s cocoa is produced in Western Africa  with Côte d’Ivoire being the largest source.

Chocolate in Poland

Chocolate in Poland has been by tradition dark & slightly bitter  – it is called gorzka – which means bitter.  Recently there has been a move to make milk chocolate. Personally I have not liked the milk chocolate produced in Poland, I much prefer the dark chocolate.

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Karol  Ernest Wedel  (1813 – 1902) came to Poland from Berlin, accompanied by his wife, Karolina and in 1851, set up his own business in Warsaw, originally serving drinking chocolate.

The logo of the company is based on Karol Wedel’s signature.

Thought by many to be the Polish national chocolate brand.

In 1894 the company moved its main factory to another site in Warsaw.

His son Emil Albert Fryderyk Wedel (1841-1919)  worked in sweet and chocolate factories in  Europe before inheriting and expanding his father’s business.

His descendant Jan Wedel  who died  in 1960,  opened a second factory in 1934 in Praga another area of Warsaw, it was  one of the most modern in Poland.

Prior to  World War II,  Wedel became a successful private company, with shops in London and Paris.

The war devastated Poland and the company.

After the war, Wedel rebuilt the factory, but it was nationalised by the communist government and then re-privatised  in 1989 after the fall of communism.

In 1991 it was bought by PepsiCo Foods and Beverages.

In 1999, Cadbury bought E.Wedel and the factory in Praga, from PepsiCo.  The Praga factory was modernised in 2007.

In March 2010  Kraft Foods Inc acquired Cadbury plc.  The European Commission insisted that Wedel be sold in order for the takeover to go ahead.

It was sold to Lotte of  South Korea in June 2010.

 

Warsaw in the late 1970s

 

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Adam Antoni Piasecki (1873 -1945)  Started a confectionery company in 1898 in Kraków naming it Wawel after the Royal Castle in Kraków.

 

 

 

Wawel Palace

 

Main Square –  rynek główny

 

At first his small workshop at Długa Street employed  five people.  His first shop was opened in a tenement house in the Main Square in Kraków and there is still a shop in this area today.

In 1951  three confectionery companies from Kraków merged  to form the new Zakłady Przemysłu Cukierniczego Wawel  (Wawel Confectionery Plant).

In 1992, as a result of privatisation, Zakłady Przemysłu Cukierniczego Wawel has become a joint stock company.

In 2005, the company changed its name to Wawel SA.

Plums & Chocolate

Candied Plums coated in chocolate with a cocoa cream filling (instead of the plum stone) –  I remember this combination from when I was a child & I still love it today.

Many visitors to Poland bring these goodies back for their friends.

These chocolates are made by  Solidarność / Goplana   whose origins are with Jan Kolański in 1911.

 

 

More Babeczki – More Buns

I saw a baking tin recently whilst shopping – by the American company Nordic ware  – as it was at a greatly discounted price, I could not resist buying it.

I have similar tins bought from both Lidl and from Marks & Spencer and used these in previous recipes.

This one is much thicker and heavier.

Babka refers to the shape of the cake and babeczki are smaller – they are buns.

Babka and Babeczki

I tried our various recipes using this new tin and found it was rather difficult to get the babeczki – the buns – out of the tin and many just ended up being fed to the birds.

Cake Seeking Bird

One of a pair of large wood pigeons that come into my garden – looking for cake!

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At last I found two recipes that work well with this tin!

Tip

I have found that you have to grease the tins very well – I use melted butter or margarine and then I dust with dried Breadcrumbs (or you can use flour).

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Carrot Spice Babeczki

These are based on a recipe for carrot cake which I use and has  dark brown sugar  as one of its ingredients – this is very popular in Britain  where sugars made from sugar cane are readily available. In Poland where sugar is made from sugar beet, white sugar is the norm in the shops.

Ingredients

225g self raising flour

1 teaspoon mixed spice ( I like the mixture from Marks & Spencer)

Grated rind of 1 orange

150g of soft dark brown sugar

150g of medium grated peeled carrots.

2 eggs

150ml of sunflower oil

2 tablespoons of milk

Method

Grease and dried breadcrumb (or flour) the tin ... you might have some mixture left over – so use bun cases in bun tins for the remainder.

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Place the flour and the mixed spice into a large bowl.

Add the sugar (sometimes I have found that this sugar has a few lumps in it  – I mix these into the flour with my finger tips to remove them.)

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Stir in the carrots and the orange rind.

Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the beaten egg, oil and milk.

Mix well together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is evenly blended.

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Fill the tins around 2/3rds full.

Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool slightly, then, using a spatula ease the buns gently out of the tins.

Dust well with icing sugar.

Chocolate Babeczki

Here I have used the same recipe as for my Chocolate Babka with a slightly different recipe for the chocolate icing.

Evaporated milk is used for the cake and the icing – a very small tin – 170g is enough for both.

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Ingredients – cake

200g self raising flour

2250g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

25g cocoa powder

200g butter or block margarine

2 eggs

75ml evaporated milk

75ml water

2 drops of vanilla essence

Method – cake

Grease and dried breadcrumb (or flour) the tin ... you might have some mixture left over – so use bun cases in bun tins for the remainder.

Pre-heat the oven oven to GM 4  – 180°C.

You need to use a large bowl for this cake mixture.

Rub the butter into the flour so that the mixture is like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the salt, sugar and cocoa powder.

Lightly beat the eggs and add the evaporated milk, the water and the drops of vanilla essence.

Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients mixing thoroughly to give a thick batter.

Fill the tins around 2/3rds full.

Bake for around 15 to 20 minutes.

Let them cool slightly then using a spatula ease the buns gently out of the tins.

You can then dust with icing sugar or add an icing.

Ingredients – icing

40g butter

2 level tablespoons of cocoa

2 tablespoons of evaporated milk

Around 180g icing sugar

Method – icing

Gently melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the cocoa, stirring continuously.

Remove from the heat and beat in the evaporated milk.

Beat in the icing sugar until the mixture is thick.

Pour the icing over the babeczki.

Chocolate Babka

It has taken me a while to get to this recipe for a super chocolate babka .

I had bought an unused, still with stickers, Oneida babka tin in a charity shop and wanted to try it out.

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I looked up several recipes and tried then out.

The first one was like rubber, the second was dry as dust but finally the third one turned out well.

I have adapted this recipe from one that is found in the older Be-Ro(flour) recipes books.

This recipe just uses cocoa powder.

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These books were ones I used as a child , they contain simple basic recipes for traditional British cakes & biscuits and are very easy to follow.

Cake Ingredients

400g self raising flour

450g caster sugar

1 teaspoon salt

50g cocoa powder

200g butter or block margarine

4 eggs

150ml evaporated milk

150ml water

2 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Grease the babka tin.

One tip I have learnt when using these tins is that it is best to brush them well with melted butter and then sprinkle dried breadcrumbs over the surface to prevent sticking  – I think this works better than flour.

Pre-heat the oven oven to GM 4  – 180°C

You need to use a large bowl for this cake mixture.

Rub the butter into the flour so that the mixture is like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the salt, sugar and cocoa powder.

Lightly beat the eggs and add the evaporated milk, the water and the drops of vanilla essence.

Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients mixing thoroughly to give a thick batter.

Pour the cake batter into the tin.

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Bake for around 40 to 45 minutes, checking it is baked with a cake tester or wooden skewer.

Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out the cake onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate Icing Ingredients

60g butter

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder

3 tablespoons of hot milk

250g icing sugar

1-2 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Heat up some milk in a small pan (I use a bit more than is needed and measure it out after heating).

Melt the butter in a pan.

Blend in the cocoa powder.

Stir in the icing sugar, milk and essence (I add the sugar in stages -aiming  for a slightly runny icing) and beat until it is thick and smooth – adjusting with icing sugar and extra milk as necessary.

Try and dribble the icing over the cake first, rather than spread it on with a spatula.  Then use a spatula to even it out over the whole cake.

 

 

 

 

 

The cake stand & pastry forks are Crazy Daisy (21st Century design) by Portmeirion

The tea service is Lyndale, by Royal Standard from the 1950s.

The green teapot is Cafe Culture by Maxwell Williams.

If you have any left after serving, then this cake keeps well if kept in an air tight container.

I use a plastic cake saver from Morrisons Supermarket  which is really useful (however a cake stand on a foot is too high – you have to use a lower stand or plate).

 

The plate is Beechwood by Royal Adderley, 1955  to 1964.

Beetroot & Chocolate Cake

I had a request from the 93 year old mother of one of my friends to make her a cake that included beetroot in the ingredients – maybe a red velvet cake.

Now I had never seen one of these cakes and certainly never made one and I did have doubts about it.

I did some research and found lots of recipes for red velvet cakes but nearly all of them used just red food colouring.

I then found a recipe for a cake using beetroot and tested it out and surprisingly it came out very, very well. The recipe uses sunflower oil and is an easy to make batter cake.

This is not a traditional Polish recipe at all but it does contain a favourite Polish vegetable – namely – beetroot.

Ingredients

250g cooked beetroots (I used ready cooked vacuum packed beetroots  – 1 pack is more than enough)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

300g caster sugar

250ml sunflower oil

3 eggs

225g plain flour

1 & 1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

Method

Grease and line a  21 x 31 cm baking tin.

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 – 180ºC

Drain the beetroots from the water and place in a sieve for a while to ensure they are dry – you can dry them with some kitchen roll as well.

Purée the beetroots – using a food chopper or blender

In a large bowl combine the puréed beetroots, eggs, vanilla essence, oil and sugar.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa.

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Add the dry ingredients to the other bowl and beat well together.

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Pour the batter mixture into the prepared tin.

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Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Test if done with a cake tester or wooden skewer.

Leave to cool in the tin.

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The cake is delicious and moist – it has a slightly red tinge to the very dark nearly black colour.

Here I have just served it plain.

Served on Royal Doulton, Counterpoint, 1973 – 1987.

You can dust the top  with icing sugar if desired.

The cake is delicious on its own but many versions have a topping of some description.

I made one using butter, cream cheese ( or yoghurt cheese), icing sugar and lemon.

Ingredients for Topping

50g butter

100g of full fat cream cheese, twaróg or yoghurt cheese

Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

250 – 300g icing sugar

Method

The butter needs to be at room temperature.

Cream the butter, lemon rind, lemon juice and the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Slowly add the icing sugar and mix well in until it is smooth and firm enough to use as a topping.

You can make the topping ahead of time and keep it in a container in the fridge – topping the cake later when needed.

Take care not to get too many brown cake crumbs in the icing when spreading it on the cake.

Served on Colclough, Enchantment, tea plates from the 1960s

with Portmeirion, Crazy Daisy, pastry forks.

The cake was voted delicious!

Babka and Babeczki

A babka is a large cake and babeczki are small cakes.

For a general description on what a babka is  –  read my post – Babka.

The following cakes have been made using a creamed sponge mixture –using my mother’s friend’s basic recipe for a creamed sponge.

In this recipe you weigh the eggs in their shells and then use the same weights of butter (or block margarine), caster sugar and self raising flour.

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Weighing eggs

 

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Silver Tin at the front was used.

Marbled Babka

Pre-heat the over to GM4 – 180°C

Grease and flour the tin.

For this babka, 4 eggs were used.

After making the cake mixture, half the mixture was placed in the tin and to the rest 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder was added and lightly folded in. This cocoa mixture was then placed on top of the plain mixture and with a metal spoon lightly mix the two to give a marbling effect.

Bake the cake for 35 to 40minutes.

When the cake is ready, leave it to cool completely before turning it out of the tin.

 

 

The babka can be dusted with icing sugar or  you can use a chocolate glaze and allow this to dribble down the grooves.

Medium babeczki

I bought these tins a few years ago in Lidl.

You might be able to find find smaller babka tins like those in the photograph below. (I bought these many years ago in France – sold there as brioche tins).

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Grease and flour the tins.

I used 3 eggs to make these 6 babeczki with the addition of 75g of currants (25g per egg)

Bake these in a pre-heated oven a GM4 – 180°C for around 25 minutes.

Wait till the cakes are cool before turning them out.

You can dust them with icing sugar or drizzle a thin lemon icing over them.

I think the size of these makes them ideal for sharing!

Small babeczki

I bought these small mini bundt tins from Marks & Spencer in January 2016.

They are a good size for an individual small cake (of course you can always have two!)

Grease and flour the tins.

Bake these in a pre-heated oven at GM4 – 180°C for around 20 minutes.

I used a 2 egg mixture with the addition of one and a half tablespoons of cocoa powder for the marbling.

This mixture made  9 cakes. (If you use a 3 egg mixture and 2 tablespoons of cocoa and fill the moulds a little more you should get 12 cakes – I have yet to try this amount.)

Wait till the cakes are cool before turning them out.

Then dust them with icing sugar before serving.

 

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