Placek with Chocolate, Nuts & Sultanas

I have been making this placek (low flat cake) for years but I cannot remember where I got the recipes from.

The cake varies every time I make it as I alter the type or amount of each chocolate used and I also alter the dried fruit and nuts.

It is not quite a Polish recipe as  Demerara sugar is used rather than granulated & this is not a typical Polish ingredient.

Sugar

Sugar is produced from either sugar cane (a perennial grass) or sugar beet (a tap root).  When sugar cane is refined you get lots of partially refined products such as: treacle, golden syrup, Demerara sugar & various other brown sugars.

Demerara sugar is so named after a region in Guyana where it was first produced.

When sugar beet is used to make sugar you do not get all these brown sugars.

In Poland the main sugar products on sale are granulated sugar and icing sugar, also you can find vanilla sugar, for baking, which is sold in little sachet which contain one tablespoon of sugar.

Ingredients

120g butter or block margarine

120g Demerara sugar

2 eggs

120g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

100g chopped chocolate (can be a mixture of dark, milk & white)

100g chopped nuts

80g sultanas (or currants or raisins)

Note

I think dried cranberries might work well here  but have not tried these as yet.

Method

Grease and line a 21 x 26 cms baking tray.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Chop the nuts and the chocolate.

Mix the nuts, chocolate & sultanas together.

 

 

Cream together the butter and Demerera sugar.

Mix in the vanilla essence and the eggs.

Mix in the nut mixture.

Gently fold in the flour.

Put the mixture into a baking tray.

Bake for around 30 – 35 minutes.

 

 

Leave to cool in the tin.

Cut into squares to serve.

 

Served on Royal Grafton – Woodside – 1950s

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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.