Ciasteczka with currants & peel

Ciasteczka is the nearest Polish word for biscuits. It can describe small soft cakes or crisper style biscuits or cookies.

At home we always spoke about biskwity and it was only when I first went to Poland that I realised this was NOT A POLISH WORD!

The word nearest to descripting English biscuits is herbatniki – these are biscuits to have with a cup of tea (herbata).

These are often petit beurre, morning coffee or rich tea type biscuits – plain thin biscuits.

These ciasteczka are quite a bit richer – variations of these I would have enjoyed cutting out with my mother.

Ingredients

  • 240g plain flour
  • 120 butter
  • 120g granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50g currants
  • 30g mixed peel
  • 1 egg – beaten
  • 1 tablespoon of milk – optional

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.
  • Grease 2 to 3 baking trays.
  • Rub the butter into the flour till it resembles breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the rest of the dry ingredients.
  • Add enough of the egg to make a soft dough.
  • You might need some of the milk.
  • Roll out the dough to 1cm thickness.
  • Cut out circles using a 7cm circular cutter.
  • Place on the baking trays.
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes till lightly golden.
  • Leave to cool on a wire baking rack.

Fruity Yeast Cake

  • This started as a recipe for buns but the dough was much too soft.
  • I decided to make it as a large flat cake ( placek) instead.
  • It has turned out similar to my aunt’s recipe for  drożdżówka  a sweet cake made using yeast.
  • This yeast cake is made with spelt flour (not strong flour) and the mixture is mixed with a wooden spoon or a Danish whisk to form a soft mixture and is not kneaded.
  • As with any recipe made with yeast, timings are so unpredictable depending on many variables including the room temperature.
  • I try to bake with yeast when I am at home for most of the day with other activities to do whilst waiting for the dough to rise.

Ingredients

  • 450g spelt flour
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 100g butter
  • 180g currants
  • 40g mixed peel
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • Around 280ml of milk – warmed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed spice

Method

  • In a bowl mix the flour and salt.
  • Rub in the butter till you have breadcrumbs.
  • Stir in the sugar, mixed spice, currants and mixed peel.
  • Make a well in the centre, add the yeast and enough of the warmed milk to make a soft dough.
  • Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place to rise.
  • The rise will not be very large.
  • Line a large baking tray with a rim.
  • Tip out the dough and spread it out to the edge of the tray with a spatula.
  • Cover and leave to rise for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C.
  • Bake for 20 – 25  minutes.
  • Cool on a baking rack for 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the baking paper and put back on the rack to avoid it going soggy at the base.

Royal Doulton – Sonnet  tea plates – 1971 – 1998

As with most yeast cakes this is best eaten as soon as possible as it will soon go stale.

If all is not eaten on the day of baking, I cut the cake into slices and pack into a plastic container and freeze – these are then toasted and served with butter at a later date.

Apricot & Prune Fruit Cake

I have been going through my recipe cuttings and came across this one, which I have been meaning to make for ages as I wanted to try a fruit cake made with either dried apricots or prunes and this has both!

This could easily be described as a keks in Polish.

It is a delicious and moist cake, which can be eaten straight away – so could be a very late bake for Christmas!

The recipe was for a very large round cake but I thought a square would be better for cutting up and so I scaled down the ingredients and made it in a 24 centimetre square tin.

You have to start this cake the night before.

Ingredients

  • 120g dried apricots
  • 165g stoned prunes
  • 100ml hot Earl Grey tea
  • 100ml sherry
  • *
  • 115g currants
  • 115g sultanas
  • 115g raisins
  • 50g mixed peel
  • *
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 150g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • *
  • 185g plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of mixed spice

Method

  • Chop the apricots and prunes into small pieces.
  • Place them into a bowl and pour the hot tea over them.
  • Leave until this is cold.
  • Add the sherry, cover and leave overnight.
  • *
  • Add the other dried fruits to the soaked fruits and mix well.
  • *
  • Grease and line all sides of a 24 cm square tin
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM 1- 140°C
  • Mix the flour with the mixed spices.
  • Cream the sugar and butter till well blended.
  • Add the eggs and mix well together.
  • Fold in the flour mixture.
  • Add the dried fruits and mix well together.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth down the top.
  • Bake for 2 – 2¼ hours.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.

 

 

Tea set by Spencer Stevenson from the mid 20th Century

Note

Yesterday I baked this for the second time in a 21 centimetre square tin – this needed 3 – 3 ¼ hours.

Orange Cake – 2

I posted a recipe for an orange cake over a year ago  – it was made with sunflower oil and yoghurt.

Whilst looking through my box of recipes I came across this recipe, which I had not made for a while.

This orange cake is made in a large loaf tin and has a sticky glaze poured over it once it is baked.

Ingredients

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 75g butter
  • 125 caster sugar
  • 50g mixed peel
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 oranges – grated rind and 3 tablespoons of juice
  • *
  • 3 tablespoons of orange juice and 40g icing sugar for the glaze

Method

  • Use a cake liner to line a large loaf tin.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C.
  • Rub the butter into the flour until you have “breadcrumbs”.
  • Stir in the sugar.
  • Stir in the mixed peel and fine grated orange rind.
  • Mix in the egg, milk and juice.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes.
  • Cool for a few minutes.
  • *
  • Place the orange juice and icing sugar into a small saucepan.
  • Mix well and whilst stirring bring it up to the boil.
  • *
  • Spoon the glaze gently over the cake surface.
  • Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Tea set – Lyndale by Royal Standard from the 1950s.

Serving plate by Burleigh Ware – Burges & Leigh Ltd – Blue Mist from the 1930s.

Keks

Keks is the word for a light fruit cake which is baked in a loaf tin or even more so a long narrow rectangular tin.

I am not sure how or when the word keks came into the Polish language but I am certain it comes from the English word “cakes” –  however the word keks is singular in Polish and means cake, and the plural is  keksy which is cakes.

It is thought that the keks originated from recipes for cakes from ancient Rome with the cakes being baked with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and dried grapes and  using barley flour and then later in the middle ages honey was used and other fruits.

Keks is mentioned in a Polish cookery compendium from 1682 by Stanisław Czerniecki.

Nowadays keks is made using wheat flour and bakalie.

Bakalie is usually translated as dried fruits – however it has more varied fruits than the English version of dried grapes (raisins, sultanas, currants) & mixed peel.

Bakalie can be a mixture of the following:

  • Apricots
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Mixed peel
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Sultanas
  • Nuts – almonds, hazel & walnuts

Of course you can vary the mixture every time you make it.

The use of  sweet dried fruits came into use in Poland through the influence of Turkish cooking where most of these fruit and nuts grow.

Traditional keks is baked in a long narrow rectangular tin, however I also use the English style 2lb loaf tins especially as you can get greaseproof cake tin liners which make life a lot easier.

NOTE

I have tried these out several times and have found two things that you must do to make turn out well:

  1. Toss the fruit in flour so it does not all clump together.
  2. Bake the cake at a low temperature so it cooks through.

Keks

Ingredients -1

Amounts for a long narrow tin

300g butter or block baking margarine

300g granulated  sugar

6 eggs

2-3 drops vanilla essence

300g plain flour

80g potato flour

2 teaspoons  baking powder

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

400g  bakalie (dried fruit  & nuts – see above) & 1 tablespoon plain flour

butter & dried breadcrumbs to prepare the tin or greaseproof paper

Ingredients -2

Amounts scaled down amounts for a 2lb loaf tin

200g butter or block baking margarine

200g granulated  sugar

4 eggs

2-3 drops vanilla essence

200g plain flour

60g potato flour

1.5 teaspoons  baking powder

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

300g  bakalie (dried fruit  & nuts – see above) & 1 tablespoon plain flour

Butter & dried breadcrumbs to prepare the tin or greaseproof paper or liner

Method

Prepare the baking tin by either coating with butter & dried bread crumbs or cut a sheet of  greaseproof paper to line the long side and base of the loaf tin or use a liner where appropriate.

Pre heat the oven to GM 3 – 160º C

Prepare the bakalie (dried fruit & nuts) by chopping the larger fruits into smaller pieces.

Place them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of plain flour and mix thoroughly so all the fruit is coated.

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Tip the coated fruit into a large sieve and shake well to remove excess flour.

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Mix the baking powder and cinnamon with the flours

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In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy

Add the vanilla essence

Add the eggs one by one, each with a tablespoon of flour

Fold in the rest of the flour

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Carefully mix in the bakalie

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Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and put in the oven

 

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Bake for around 1 hour 30 minutes for the long tin & 1 hour 20 minutes for the smaller loaf tin

Check at around 1 hour & cover the top with greaseproof paper if it starts to brown on top too quickly

Test the cake with a cake tester or wooden skewer near the end of the cooking time to check that it is baked throughout

Leave the cake to cool in the tin before turning it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aynsley, Las Palmas from the 1960s

Colclough 4212, Art Deco 1930s, Blue Violets/Pansies

Keks – using fruit mincemeat

At Christmas time I make English fruit mincemeat using the recipe from Delia Smith but without the chopped nuts.

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If I have any mincemeat over after the Christmas period  when I make mince pies,  I make a fruit loaf which which is very much a keks.

I bake this in a 2lb loaf tin.

Note

You can also use 2 small 1lb loaf tins or even a round 22cm tin – adjusting the baking time.

Ingredients

150 butter

100g soft brown sugar

75g sultanas or currants  and mixed peel

225g self raising flour

450g jar of mincemeat (exact amount is not critical)

3 eggs

Optional 25g flaked almond to sprinkle on top

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM2- 150ºC

Prepare the loaf tin by greasing it, lining the long sides or using a greaseproof liner.

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Lightly cream the butter and sugar

Beat in the eggs, one by one

Stir in the mincemeat and the  extra dried fruit until it is an even consistency – a wooden spoon is good for this

Stir in the flour.

If the mixture seems a bit dry add a tablespoon of rum or similar

Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top

Sprinkle nuts on top if using

Bake for around 1 hour 15 minutes

Leave to cool in the tin before turning it out.

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.

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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

Method

  • 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.

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Method

  • 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.