Piernik is Polish honey spice cake – pierniczki are little honey spice cakes
My Polish friend in Leeds was in Poland in November and bought some new bombki *(Christmas Tree ornaments). These have wycinanki – Polish paper-cut designs(folk art popular since the mid 1800s) as their inspiration.
*Bombki – Glass baubles – in the past these were often blown eggs decorated with glitter. There are also many straw decorations – angels or stars.
Glass baubles originated in Germany in the 19th century but they were soon being made in Poland with their large glass blowing industry. Many are made in small family run workshops, some now specialise in individual and unusual designs.
She has included these and some angels in decorating a window in a chapel in Lancashire.
She also sent me a recipe for pierniczki – made with wheat and rye flour.
I tried them out – yummy – easy to make & cut out!
- 100g butter
- 100g runny honey
- 300g plain flour
- 100g rye flour
- 130g icing sugar
- 1 tablespoon of mixed spice (or 1 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, cloves & cardamon)
- 1 tablespoon of cocoa
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 2 large eggs – beaten
- Icing made with water or lemon juice to decorate
- Put the butter and honey into a small saucepan and heat gently to melt.
- Leave to cool.
- Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- Add the beaten eggs and the butter & honey mixture.
- Mix together to make a soft dough.
- The dough will be slightly sticky – do not add extra flour.
- Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.
- Line baking sheets with greaseproof paper.
- Divide the dough into four.
- Use rye flour to flour the pastry board.
- Roll out the dough to around 4mm thickness (no less).
- Use cutters to cut out shapes.
- Place them on the baking sheets with a little room between.
- Bake for 9 -11 minutes.
- Leave to cool on a baking rack.
- These piernicki should be soft.
- They are only semi-sweet.
- You can have decorating them with icing – I just did a bit of drizzling.
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
- To serve
- 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.
- Dust the top with icing sugar.
- Cut into rectangles or triangles to serve.
Two months to Christmas and I am posting this recipe so you have time to prepare for then.
I have tried out several piernik – honey spice cake recipes & many of them have been dreadful!
But at last I have found one that I am happy to share – I would describe it as a sort of soft biscuit.
This is piernik staropolski (in the old Polish style) and is a recipe which takes time to make, as the mixture is left for several weeks before it is baked – (10 days is the absolute minimum). This maturing enhances the flavour of the spices.
I have been reading that some people make their dough even earlier say in September before they bake it
This piernik is baked for Święty Mikołaj – St Nicholas Day – December 6th and for Wigilia – Christmas Eve – December 24th.
The science for this will be really interesting – I presume it is a slow fermentation that is taking place & the high honey/sugar content, low temperature & access to air prevents the dough from spoiling.
- 250ml runny honey
- 125g Trex™ **
- 230g granulated sugar
- 2 eggs – lightly beaten
- 550g plain flour (may need more)
- 2 teaspoons of mixed spices or piernik mix (ground cinnamon, cloves, cardamom in equal parts)
- large pinch of salt
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 70 ml of warm milk
- 250g mixed dried fruit (raisins, peel, chopped dates and figs)
** The original recipe uses lard (pork fat) – I used Trex™ – a white solid vegetable fat.
- Put the honey, sugar and Trex in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring the mixture till all the Trex is melted and the sugar dissolved.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
- Mix the flour, salt & spices together.
- Add this to the honey mixture and mix together first with a wooden spoon.
- Add the beaten eggs to the mixture.
- Dissolve the baking soda in the milk and add this to the dough and mix till you have a thick dough.
- Knead this dough lightly for around 5 minutes (add more flour if the mixture is too wet).
- Add in the dried fruits and knead them in lightly.
- Form the dough into a ball.
- Place the dough in a glass or ceramic bowl – not a metal one.
- Cover with a linen or cotton cloth – tie the string around it to keep it covered.
- Do not use cling film – as air needs to circulate.
- You could use foil but you would need to prick in some air holes.
- Place in a cool place (mine was put into my cool cellar) for a minimum of 10 days and up to 4 weeks.
- I left mine for 2 weeks.
- Ensure that the dough will not pick up any unwanted flavours such as onions or garlic by carefully choosing the place you store it.
- Pre-heat the oven to GM2 – 150°C
- Grease and line a 2 baking tins – 22 x 33 cm.
- Take the ball of dough out of the bowl and cut it into two.
- Flatten each piece lightly and make into a rough rectangular shape – can use a rolling pin.
- Place this into the tim and with fingers push and press it into all the sides of the tin.
- You can use the blunt end of a rolling pin.
- Repeat for the other
- Bake for around 55 -65 minutes – checking after 40 minutes and covering with greaseproof paper if it is starting to burn.
- Leave the piernik to cool in the tin.
- When it is cold, wrap it loosely in greaseproof paper and then a clean linen tea towel and leave in a cool place for 2 -3 days.
- Cut each cake into two or three rectangles.
- Remove the crusts – optional.
- Dust with icing sugar or coat in chocolate melted with butter (40g butter : 100g dark chocolate).
- You can use a thin white icing semi glaze instead of the chocolate.
- You can store the piernik in an airtight tin – I think the chocolate coating helps to keep it longer.
Slices served on Queen Anne china tea plates.