Torcik – with Alpine Strawberries

Five years of blogging today!

I know I said this last year but I still cannot believe it!  I posted my first post five years ago today – 4 July 2015.  Time has gone so quickly but there is still much more to write about.  

This will be post number 280 and there have been visitors from more than 130 countries.

Suddenly in the garden there were loads of alpine strawberries – time to use them in a recipe!

I had seen lots of cakes in Poland with a layer of fruits and jelly on top and decided now was the time to start trying some out.

Torcik – this is a word that I have just learnt.

There does not seem to be an exact English translation!

I have seen the terms icebox cake or no bake cake, which convey some of the ideas.

  • Tort is a layer cake, a gateaux and the -cik  ending usually denotes a diminutive – something small.
  • A torcik is a dessert type cake which is not baked.
  • A torcik can be assembled cold from previously baked parts such as meringue circles, crushed biscuits or sponge fingers.
  • It usually has a mousse or custard layer  or one which has been set with gelatine.
  • Curd cheese, twaróg or yoghurt cheese is often used.
  • In Poland this would not be called a sernik  – a cheesecake as it is not baked.
  • *
  • Many recipes use gelatine or bought flavoured jellies.
  • Polish jellies come in the form of powdered granules.
  • English jellies come in a concentrated jelly block.
  • I have had super results using the following brand of  real fruit juice Polish jellies.



  • I intend to try out some more recipes out using English style jellies.
  • If you are adapting recipes between using gelatine and using bought jellies – you need to adjust the sugar content.
  • *
  • I think a Charlotte Russe could be described as a torcik.
  • It was invented up by the French chef, – Marie Antione Carême(1784-1833) who was working for the Russian Tsar, Alexander I.
  • It is not layered but has many of the same element.

When making a torcik you need time to let one layer set before starting on the next  – my first attempt was a disaster in looks!

This torcik is composed of 3 layers

  1. Biscuit base
  2. Sweet curd cheese with lemon jelly
  3. Alpine strawberries in blackcurrant jelly


  • 500g twaróg or yoghurt cheese (could use full fat cream cheese)
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g butter
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 1 packet of light coloured jelly (lemon)
  • 1 packet of dark coloured jelly (blackcurrant)
  • *
  • 125g of plain biscuits such as petit beurre, morning coffee or rich tea
  • 70g butter
  • *
  • Lots of alpine strawberries – enough to cover the surface of the torcik


  • Use a 25cm diameter loose bottomed or spring-form tin.
  • Lightly rub the base with some butter.
  • *
  • Crush the biscuits into small crumbs.
  • Melt the butter, add the crumbs and mix.
  • Put the mixture into the base of the tin and press it down firmly.
  • *
  • Dissolve the lemon jelly in 125ml of boiling water and leave to cool.
  • The tricky bit is having the jelly at the right temperature to use.
  • *
  • Cream together the butter and icing sugar.
  • Add the egg yokes, one by one, alternating with the twaróg.
  • Mix thoroughly.
  • Whisk the whites until they form stiff peaks.
  • Fold the whites into the mixture.
  • Gently mix in the cool jelly.
  • Pour the mixture over the biscuit base.
  • Level the top.
  • Leave to set – best in the fridge – for at least 3 hours.
  • *
  • Mix up the blackcurrant jelly as per the instructions with 500ml of boiling water.
  • Leave the jelly to cool.
  • *
  • Prepare the alpine strawberries – removing any stalks and leaves.
  • Arrange the alpine strawberries on top of the lemon layer.
  • Gently put the blackcurrant jelly over the alpine strawberries – use one spoon to pour this over the back of a second spoon.
  • Leave it to set again in the fridge – can take several hours.
  • Take great care when removing the torcik out of the tin.

Tea plates – Queensbury by Midwinter from the 1970s



Carrot Pancakes

Daucus carota – the carrot – was cultivated from wild carrots in the countries we now know as Afghanistan & Iran and are mentioned there in the 10th century and by the 12th century they were mentioned in Europe.

These tap roots were originally white, yellow or purple in colour.

The orange colour that we recognise today was breed by growers in Europe in the 17th century especially in the Netherlands.  It is thought that this was in honour of Prince William of Orange-Nassau (Willem van Oranje) who had an orange stripe on his flag. Nowadays orange is thought of as the national colour for the Netherlands.

These pancakes made with carrots in Polish are called racuszki z marchwi.

They are small round pancakes like American pancakes or dropped scones and are served with sugar or sweetened soured cream.


  • 450g carrots, peeled and finely grated
  • 140g twaróg/cream cheese or yoghurt cheese
  • 2 eggs separated
  • 3 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 1/2  teaspoon of baking powder
  • Sunflower oil for frying

To Serve

Caster sugar or soured cream sweetened with icing sugar.


  • Whisk the whites until they are stiff.
  • In a small dish mix the baking powder with the flour.
  • In a large bowl mix together well the finely grated carrots, the cream (or yoghurt) cheese and the egg yolks.
  • Add the flour mixture.
  • Fold in the stiff egg whites.
  • Heat some sunflower oil in a cast iron frying pan or griddle.
  • Use 2 tablespoonfuls of the mixture for each pancake, cook on one side and then turn them over and cook on the other side.
  • Sprinkle with caster sugar or with a dollop of sweetened soured cream.



Served here on Wedgwood – Hathaway Rose – 1959 -1987.


I have also tried them with maple syrup poured on them & these too were delicious.



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.


  • 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 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cocoa powder


  • 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.


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


Pour the batter mixture into the prepared tin.


Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Test if done with a cake tester or wooden skewer.

Leave to cool in the tin.


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


  • 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!

Another Cheesecake!

I had not planned to write about cheesecakes again so soon but recently I had made lots of yoghurt cheese and I decided to make a baked cheesecake for my visitors.

There are so many variations you can make of baked cheesecakes – here is one with a chocolate and an orangey twist.







I had a packet of milk chocolate digestive biscuits already opened and  I thought I would try  a variation on my usual recipe.

Ingredients for the base

  • 100- 150g of chocolate digestive digestive biscuits (milk or dark)
  • 50 – 75g of butter
  • A few chunks of dark chocolate


  • Grease a spring-form or loose bottomed tin with melted butter. (You can use a 19cm, 20cm or 22cm tin – adjust the amounts of the base ingredients to suit.)
  • Crush the biscuits in a bowl.
  • Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat then add the chocolate and let it melt.
  • Add the butter & chocolate mix to the biscuits and mix them all together.
  • Press the mixture into the base of the tin and leave it to cool completely.
  • Once cool you can put it the tin into the fridge whilst you make the yoghurt cheese mixture.

Ingredients for yoghurt cheese mixture

  • Around 450g of yoghurt cheese (or use cream cheese)
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 80g of caster sugar
  • 60g of chopped mixed peel (I use the peel from Marks & Spencer)
  • 2 tablespoons of custard powder

Custard 1





The custard powder helps as the yoghurt cheese is often quite “wet” – this is a tip I got from the book   Eat Well  The Yochee Way   by Nikki & David Goldbeck.










  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 3 – 160ºC.
  • Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar till they are pale and fluffy.
  • Lightly whisk in the yoghurt cheese and the custard powder till it is all well combined.
  • Mix in the mixed peel.
  • Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and then fold them into the mixture with a metal spoon.
  • Pour the mixture onto on the biscuit base.



  • Bake in the oven for  50 minutes.
  • When the cake is ready switch off the oven and leave it in there for at least 40 minutes.
  • Take out the cake to cool.
  • Once it is cold – take the cake out of the tin by loosening the outer ring or placing the cake tin with the loose bottom on a tin can and sliding the cake tin down.
  • Dust the cake with icing sugar before serving.
  • I think this cake is best made the day before you want to serve it – so it is well cooled and set.


The blue & white table cloth is a new 100% cotton one from Ikea.

The tea plate is Las Palmas by Aynsley from the 1960s.

Sweet Curd Cheese – Polish Pancake Filling

This sweet fresh curd cheese mixture is one that is used as a filling for  pancakes in Poland.

You can make this mixture with twaróg – curd cheese, cream cheese or yoghurt cheese.

Use 1 packet of cheese, usually 200g – 300g , to this add 2 to 3 tablespoons of soured cream and 2 to 3 tablespoons of icing sugar and mix this together till you get a smooth mixture. You can add 2 to 3 drops of vanilla essence.  Do not add too much sugar – you want the contrast of sweetness & sour.

Sweet Curd Cheese Mixture
Pancake Spread With Sweet Curd Cheese Mixture
Pancakes Folded Polish Style with Sweet Curd Mixture Dusted with Icing Sugar

See The Perfect Pancake

Other Methods of Serving

Add a spoonful or two on top of red fruits such as strawberries and raspberries which have been dusted with icing sugar.

Strawberries from the garden
Alpine Strawberries – growing in my garden.

Classic Polish Curd Cheese Mixtures

Twaróg – Polish Curd Cheese  is used extensively in cooking and finds its way in many guises onto the Polish menu, especially at home, both in sweet and savoury dishes.

The following are what I consider to be  popular classic savoury  fresh cheese mixtures and are often served for breakfast with bread and salad.

Here in England I think they could be served at lunchtime. As well as with bread and rolls they can be served with crisp-breads, oatcakes or crackers.

3 Classic Curd Cheese Mixtures

You can make these with Twaróg – Curd Cheese or with Cream Cheese.

You can also use yoghurt cheese – (Look out for a post on how to make this later).

The amounts used are just approximate, using  one packet of cheese, which is normally around  200g – 300g,  for each mixture and can be varied to taste.

If using curd cheese, add a pinch or two of salt and a couple of spoonfuls of soured cream, mix together until smooth.

If using cream cheese just take it out of the packet and mix it in a bowl –  you can add a spoonful or two of soured cream to make it a  softer consistency if you wish.

Mixture 1

To the cheese add a few tablespoons of finely chopped chives or the green parts of spring onions.

In Poland  szczypiorek (which in dictionaries is given as chives) would be used – however I think it is slightly different and is much larger than the chives I grow here in England.

Chives Growing in a Pot


Spring Onions and Chives
Curd Cheese and Chives

Mixture 2

To the cheese add a couple of teaspoons of caraway seeds

Curd Cheese and Caraway Seeds

Mixture 3

To the cheese add some chopped gherkins


I find these are the best gherkins to use as they are not vinegary.

Chopped Gherkins
Curd Cheese and Gherkins


Typical Polish Breakfast Fare



These cheese mixtures can also be served with bliny  -little buckwheat pancakes.  (Look out for a  a post on how to make these later).

Sernik – Polish Cheesecake

Baked cheesecakes have a very long history with the Ancient Greeks baking them with cheese and then the Romans adding eggs to the recipes.

Varieties of cheesecakes were made in the Middle East and mentioned in the Old Testament.  Maybe a land flowing with milk and honey is so good as these are ingredients needed to make a cheesecake!

The traditional cheesecake in Poland is a baked cheesecake and it is found in Christian and Jewish Traditions.

One story is that King Jan III Sobieski brought the recipe back with him after his victory against the Turks at the Battle of Vienna (1683).

This could tie up with the fact that  one version of the cheesecake  in Poland is called Viennese – Style.

When immigrants to the United States of America from Poland, Russia and Germany took their recipes with them in the 19 Century  we eventually got the New York Cheesecake.

As ser is the Polish word for cheese  – we get  sernik as the Polish word for cheesecake.

Cheesecakes are made from twaróg – curd cheese, eggs and sugar and how they turn out depends not only on the proportions of each but also the cheese that is used.  Butter and soured cream may also be used.





My mother used to make her own curd cheese from fresh farm milk that was allowed to sour and then the solid curds were separated from the whey by pouring the soured milk into a muslin cloth and leaving this to drain.

Unfortunately you cannot make soured milk from pasteurised milk.

Recently I have been making my own yoghurt and yoghurt cheese.  You have to use a live yoghurt starter with pasteurised milk. This is very similar to twaróg, not identical but very near. The result tastes wonderful but it takes a lot of time and effort to get enough cheese at home and so the following recipes use bought cheese.

You can find twaróg now in Polish shops and some supermarkets and sometimes under its German name qwark.

Twaróg – Curd Cheese

Previously as the curd cheese was not available  my recipes have been adapted to use a Philadelphia ™ style cream cheese.

Philadelphia ™ is a cream cheese invented in 1872 in New York State.

Full fat makes the best cheesecake. You can use a mixture of full fat and medium fat but never use low fat cheese.

You cannot make a good baked cheesecake from low fat cheese.

Curd cheese is slightly grainy and to get the best results you either need to put it through a mincer or  use a blender. 

A traditional baked cheesecake has 2 layers – a cake base and then the curd cheese layer on top.

In my mother’s original cake the cheese mixture was poured over a baked cake base but for ease I often use a crushed biscuit base.

Mama’s Cheesecake

IMG_20150730_065011576_HDRBiscuit Base Ingredients    

75g melted butter

150g digestive, rich tea or morning coffee biscuits

You need a round tin with a loose base or a spring form tin or you will not be able to get the cake out.  I always use an anodised aluminium tin, 23cm in diameter and 7 cm deep, which does not rust.

Selection of my anodised cake tins

Grease the tin well with butter.

Crush the biscuits to make fine crumbs and use some of these to coat the sides of the greased tin.

Crushed biscuits

Add the melted butter to the rest of the biscuits and mix together. Put this mixture onto the base of the tin pressing it down firmly.

Biscuit crumb mix – pressed into the tin

Leave the tin in a cold place whilst you make the cheese mixture.

Cheese Mixture Ingredients

700g of curd cheese or cream cheese (at room temperature)

6 egg yolks

2 egg whites

4 tablespoons of caster sugar

50 to 75g of melted butter

3 drops of vanilla essence

1 to 2 tablespoons of semolina (optional)

Pre heat the oven to GM4 – 180oC.

In a large bowl beat the yolks and sugar until they are thick and creamy – the mixture should be lighter in colour than the original yolks and be creamy. (This may take around 5 minutes).  Then add the cooled melted butter, cheese and vanilla essence.

If using the semolina, add this now – it makes the cake a bit denser. (I rarely add this with cream cheese, more often with curd cheese).

Beat the whites with a whisk until you have soft peaks and fold these into the mixture.

Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and bake for 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Check after an hour, if the top starts to get too brown before the cake is cooked place a piece of foil over the top.

Once the cake is cooked switch off the oven, you can leave the door open slightly and let it cool down in the oven, this prevents it sagging and cracking too much as it cools. (It will sag and often does crack – this is not unusual).


Once the cake is cool you can take it out of the tin.  I use a tin can and put the cake tin on this and slide the side of the cake tin down.

Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar before serving.

This cake tastes best if allowed to get cold, so make it the day before it is needed.




You can make endless variations on this basic recipe by adding raisins, mixed peel, fresh raspberries and so on or adding a drizzle of melted dark chocolate on the top when it has cooled.

In Poland one type of cheesecake is described as  Viennese and another  as from Kraków. The Viennese one has sultanas or raisins and orange peel in the cheese mixture and sometimes some chocolate on top, whilst the one from Kraków  is traditionally baked in a square or rectangular shape and has a lattice of  pastry over the top and  will  also have sultanas or raisins in the cheese mixture.

Cheesecake Version 2





I cannot quite remember the origin of this version,  I think  my mother got it either from one of her friends or from the Polish newspaper.  It has soured cream as one of the ingredients but no butter.  It uses all the egg whites which are stiffly beaten causing this cake to have a lighter texture and it rises more  but does sink down again as it cools.

The instructions are the same as the one above for the biscuit base.  It is the cheese mixture which is different

Cheese Mixture Ingredients

600g curd cheese or cream cheese (at room temperature)

100g caster sugar

6 eggs separated

120 mls soured cream

grated rind of 2 lemons or 3 drops of vanilla essence

Pre heat the oven to GM4 – 180oC.

In a large bowl beat the yolks and sugar until they are thick and creamy, add the lemon rind (or vanilla essence), soured cream and cheese.

IMG_20150720_173754727IMG_20150720_173742094In another large bowl whisk the whites till they are stiff and fold these into the cheese mixture using a metal spoon.





Pour the mixture on top of the biscuit base and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Check after 50 minutes if the top starts to get too brown before the cake is cooked place a piece of foil over the top.

Once the cake is cooked switch of the oven, you can leave the door open slightly and let it cool down in the oven, this prevents it sagging and cracking too much as it cools.

Once the cake is cool you can take it out of the tin. I use a tin can and put the cake tin on this and slide the side of the cake tin down.

Dust the top of the cake with icing sugar before serving.

This cake tastes best if allowed to get cold, so make it the day before it is needed.