Most people know that a mazurek (mazurka in English) is a Polish folk dance. It is also the word for someone or something from Mazur (the region known as Mazowsze in Polish) in North Central Poland.
A tasty meaning of mazurek, is a flat Polish cake made with different bases and toppings. The varieties are seemingly endless and vary from region to region and family to family. They can be made with yeast doughs, crumbly shortbread-like doughs (ciasto kruche) or flaky, puff-pastry-like doughs.
The mazurek is usually baked in a rectangular or square shape.
The topping varieties include: almond paste, dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, meringues, kajmak, jam or poppy seed paste.
There is often an icing of some sort poured over the topping.
A mazurek is rarely over 2.5 cm (1 inch) in height.
It is thought that the mazurek, was inspired by sweet Turkish desserts that came to Poland via the spice trade routes from Turkey in the early 17th century .
Mazurek is traditionally served at Easter when it is considered an Easter treat after 40 days of fasting for Lent and this is maybe why this cake is so sweet.
Another reason is that Holy Week, the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, is a busy one in a Polish household as the interior and exterior of the house is cleaned from top to bottom so any baking that could be prepared well in advance of Easter Sunday without getting stale was good and the mazurek, often made with an over-abundance of dried fruits to keep it moist is well suited to this.
When the top of an Easter mazurek is iced , it typically is emblazoned with the words “Alleluja” or “Wesołego Alleluja“ (Happy Alleluja or Happy Easter).
Mazurek made with jam topping
I used ciasto kruche for these, using the versions in pastry-ciasto kruche.
I liked the one using hard boiled eggs the best.
Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C
I used a Mermaid shallow tin, 31cm x 21cm, which I greased and lined – to make it easier to get the mazurek out of the tin.
Using around 1/2 to 2/3rds of the pastry dough, roll out a rectangle for the bottom of the tin – if it is too crumbly you might have to piece and press this in.
Using the rest of the dough make stripes about a finger thickness and place these around the edge of the tin.
Use a sharp knife to make a cut pattern in these strips.
Bake for 25 -30 minutes until the pastry is golden.
Leave to cool completely.
Fill the mazurek hollow with jam.
You will need around a whole jar of jar and you can heat the jam slightly to make it easier to spread.
Make some icing with beaten egg white, lemon juice and icing sugar and drizzle this over the jam.
Mazurek with blackcurrant jam
Served here on a bamboo board and Las Palmas tea plates by Aynsley from the 1960s
Mazurek with raspberry jam
Served here on a bamboo board and tea plates with a violet design by Colclough from the 1930s.