Miód is the Polish word for honey and Miodownik is a Honey Cake which usually contains spices.
These cakes have been known in Poland since the 12th century and the spices would have come from Turkey (originally brought back by the crusaders) or India.
The main spices used are cinnamon and cloves with the addition according to different recipes of cardamon, black pepper, caraway, nutmeg, and sometimes as in this recipe – ginger and then in later recipes allspice, which is from the New World.
Honey was the original sweetener, long before sugar and there are many traditional recipes that use honey not only in cakes, but also in meat dishes.
I learnt recently that my paternal grandfather kept bees and that my dad’s sister, my godmother, helped to look after them.
I was given this recipe recently and it is similar to one I have posted before, which was my mother’s recipe. Her recipe used sunflower oil which is a more recent addition to recipes in Polish cookery whilst this one uses soured cream.
I had a large jar of Polish honey and used some for this recipe.
It is a dense squidgy cake which is lovely and moist.
Honey cakes are served over the Christmas Period in Poland.
300ml clear honey
225g granulated sugar
3 eggs separated
250ml soured cream
290g plain flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground cloves
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
½ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
Use a 23cm loose bottomed or springform tin
Grease and line the base or use a cake liner.
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 – 180º C.
In a small saucepan bring the honey to the boil and then leave to cool.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and the spices.
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar.
Whisk in the soured cream.
Whisk in the cooled honey.
Add the dry ingredients to the mixture and mix well together.
Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff and fold these cake mixture.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for around 60- 65 minutes.
Take care as this has a tendency to burn at the top, you might need to cover it after about 45mins hour with a piece of greaseproof paper of aluminium foil.
Test to make sure it is cooked through with a fine cake tester.
Leave to cool in the tin.
Dust with icing sugar to serve.
This cake has a tendency to sink a little in the middle – nothing to worry about!
Tea plates – Bramble Rose by Duchess – from the 1960s
Tea cups – Harvest Pink by Queen Anne – 1959 – 1966
The instructions were for a round cake – the second time I made this I used a 32 x 22cm greased and lined tin.
The timings are roughly the same.
The cake is easier to cut into portions.
It is not quite as moist or squidgy as the deeper round version.
Wrapping it in aluminium foil and put in an airtight box will make it softer over time.
A loose bottomed deep square tin may be better and easier to get the cake out – but I do not have one of these.
Several years ago I got an Austrian cookery book which has many similar recipes to Polish ones and I made some babeczki or buleczki – little cakes, with a yeast pastry & poppy seed filling for Wigilia from it.
I thought I would have another go at these but with some changes.
The poppy seed filling I have changed quite a bit and it is easier than my traditional one. The recipe for the dough I have changed slightly and the shaping method quite a lot.
Poppy Seed Filling
180ml of milk (full fat or semi)
Around 100ml of runny honey (extra may be needed)
120g of poppy seeds *
50g of raisins
Strong Earl Grey tea
Grated zest of 1 lemon
* You can grind the poppy seeds – I used a little electric grinder.
Make some strong Earl Grey tea.
Put the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with the hot tea and leave till they go cold.
Into a small saucepan put the poppy seeds and the milk.
Bring to the boil then lower the heat.
Simmer gently for around 20 minutes, stirring constantly.
Take care not to let the mixture burn.
Add the honey and continue heating and stirring.
Drain the raisins and add them to the mixture and mix them in.
Keep stirring and try and drive off any liquid left.
Taste for sweetness – you may want to add more honey.
Leave to go completely cold before using.
Add the grated lemon rind.
If this is too much filling – you can always freeze some.
1/2 tablespoon of dried yeast
4-5 tablespoons of milk (full fat or semi)
250g of strong flour
Pinch of salt
120g of butter
20g of caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 egg white for glazing (I always use just egg white now – it does not burn as easily as whole egg)
Warm 3-4 tablespoons of the milk to hand heat.
Add the yeast and leave it to froth up.
Place the flour into a large bowl and add the salt.
Cut in the butter with a knife and then make breadcrumbs with your fingers.
Stir in the sugar.
Make a well in the centre.
Add the egg yolk and the yeast mixture.
Use a knife at first to bring the dough together.
You may need some of the extra milk.
Use your fingers to gather all the ingredients into a ball.
Knead the dough for around 5 minutes till you have a smooth dough.
Leave the dough to rest for at least 45 minutes – covered with a tea cloth.
Grease and line several baking trays.
Cut the dough into 3 or 4 portions.
Roll the dough out thinly.
Use a 6cm cutter to cut out circles.
Place a small teaspoon of filling on half of the circles.
Place a second pastry circle on top.
Use a pastry fork to crimp the edges together making sure they are sealed.
Glaze with beaten egg white.
Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C (quite low for a yeast pastry!).
Bake for 12-13 minutes.
Dust with icing sugar whilst still warm.
Leave to cool.
You could drizzle with runny lemon icing instead.
Served here on Duchess – tea plates – Poppies from the 1960s.
Piernik in Poland is associated with the Christmas season and would be made for Christmas Eve and for Christmas Day, it would also be made for Święty Mikołaj – December 6th – St Nicholas Day. This is a day for present giving in Poland to children and I would always get a piernik shaped and decorated to look like the bishop that was St Nicholas.
I came across this recipe, which has grated dark chocolate added to the mixture and the result is excellent. I posted it last year as Piernik with Chocolate. Here I have added a sour cherry jam topping which makes it even better!
250ml of runny honey
220g of granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1.5 teaspoons of mixed spice (or 0.5 teaspoons each of ground cardamom, cinnamon & cloves)
350g of plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
100g of grated dark chocolate (I used one with 74%cocoa)
100g of mixed peel
Sour Cherry Jam & Icing Sugar
Grease and line a 32 x 22 cm tin.
Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160°C.
Whisk together the honey, sugar, eggs and spices.
Mix the flour and the baking powder together and mix this in.
Stir in the grated chocolate and the mixed peel.
Pour the thick batter into the tinand smooth down the top.
Bake for 60 – 65 minutes until a tester comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin.
Warm 2 – 3 tablespoons of sour cherry jam to make it easier to use.
Remove the piernik from the tin.
Brush the top of the piernik thickly with the jam and leave to cool and set.