Drożdżówka – Yeast Cake

The Polish word for yeast is drożdże and drożdżówka is any sweet cake or bun made using yeast.

Often the cake is a large flat cake ( placek) made in a large roasting tin.

This yeast cake is made with plain flour not strong flour and the mixture is mixed with a wooden spoon to form a soft mixture and is not kneaded.

My late father has two cousins living in Białystok, North East Poland, they are both wonderful cooks.

This yeast cake is based on a recipe given to me by one of these aunties.

As with any recipe made with yeast, timings are so unpredictable depending on many variables including the room temperature.

I always 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 etc.

Ingredients

Yeast Cake

400g plain flour

250ml of tepid milk

1 egg

2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

150g of raisins or sultanas

10g of fresh yeast or 5g of dried yeast

Crumble Topping

2 tablespoons of plain flour

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

Method

Mix the yeast with 2 tablespoons of the milk and 1 tablespoon of the sugar and leave this till it starts bubbling.

In a bowl whisk together the egg  and 1 tablespoon of the sugar.

Add the oil and whisk again.

Add the milk and the raisins or sultanas and mix well.

Add the flour and mix this all together with a wooden spoon to form a very loose, soft dough.

Cover the bowl with clingfilm or a cloth and leave in a warm place to rise.

Make the crumble topping by rubbing the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs and then stir in the sugar.

Grease and line a large roasting tin.

25cm x 34 cm or 22cm x 32cm.

Put the risen dough into the tin – use a spatula to spread it out.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top and leave to rise again.

 

 

Pre-heat the oven to  GM6 – 200°C.

Place the risen cake into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Then lower the temperature to GM5 – 190°C and bake for another 10 minutes – keeping an eye on this and cover with foil if it looks like it is burning.

You might want also want to move it down a shelf for the last 5  minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes then take it out and remove from the greaeproof paper – so it does not go soggy on the base.

 

Served on Sonnet by Royal Doulton, 1971 – 1998.

As with most yeast cakes this is best eaten as soon as possible as it will soon go stale – you might need to invite round lots of friends and family!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Toasted and buttered yeast cake served on Las Palmas by Aynsley from the 1960s.

Variations

The dried fruits added can be varied  and I have made this with raisins, mixed peel and 1 teaspoon of mixed spice.

 

 

 

 

Served on Counterpoint by Royal Doulton, 1973 – 1987.

Other dried fruit options can be used, such as apricots, cranberries, pears or prunes and so on,  chopping larger fruits into small pieces.

I made this with apricots, sultanas and a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence.

 

The dried fruits add sweetness to the cake and I think the small amount of sugar works well – you can if you like add a few extra tablespoons of sugar.

 

 

 

 

Placek with Cranberries, Chocolate & Nuts

After Christmas I found  I had lots of dried cranberries & nuts left from other recipes.

So I decided to make a variation on my placek (flat cake) with chocolate, nuts & sultanas

Ingredients

120g butter or block margarine

120g Demerara sugar

2 eggs

120g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon of vanilla essence

100g dried cranberries

100g chopped chocolate (a mixture of dark & white)

80g chopped nuts

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 & cranberries 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 Queen Anne teaplates – design name unkown.

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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Placek

Placek is a low flat cake and can be  round or rectangular in shape.

I made two using  each of the recipes in  ciasto półkruche  – a type of shortcrust pastry – with jam fillings and both turned out well.

Placek with jam

Grease and line a 32 x 22 tin

Pre-heat the oven  GM5 – 190°C

Use half the dough and roll it out to fit the tin.

Spread the dough with jam – you will need around a jar.

Cover the top with the rest of the dough rolled out.

Bake for around 30 minutes.

Dust with icing sugar as soon as you take it out of the oven and leave to cool.

Placek with Blackcurrant Jam

 

Served on – Colclough – Enchantment-  1950 – 1960s

Placek with Sour Cherry Jam

 

Served on – Duchess – Bramble Rose – 1960s

 

 

 

Pastry – ciasto kruche & półkruche

There are 2 classic pastries, kruche and półkruche in Poland & the most difficult part is trying to get a good translation of the names.

Ciasto kruche

Ciasto is pastry and the word kruche means brittle, fragile or crumbly and ciasto kruche is often translated as shortcrust pastry – however it is quite different to British shortcrust pastry.

This pastry is used to make a Polish cake called Mazurek of which there are many version.

Ciasto półkruche

The pół part of the word półkruche means half or semi – but semi-shortcrust pastry does not really explain much!

This pastry is often used to make a Polish cake called placek future posts will describe how to make these.

Both of these pastries are much richer than shortcrust pastry.

Ciasto kruche

The 4 ingredients are plain flour, butter, icing sugar and egg yolks (and a pinch or two of salt)

Use a flour which is low in gluten  – a cake flour not  a bread flour.

Butter give the best results but block  margarine can be used .  The pastry is fragile due to its high fat content.

Use egg yolks (raw or hard boiled ), because the protein in the whites reduces the fragility of the dough.

Using cooked egg yolks results in greater fragility.

Ratios

3 flour: 2 Butter: 1 Icing

or

2 flour: 1 butter: ½ – 1 Icing

Usually – 1 yolk per 100g flour

A pinch or two of salt.

Ciasto półkruche

Here flour, butter, icing sugar and egg yolks (and a pinch or two of salt) are used but there can be other additions such as baking powder, egg whites and soured cream or milk, granulated sugar  or vanilla sugar .

The proportions of the main ingredients are different in that półkruche has a lower fat content.

Ratios

2 flour: 1 butter

or

3 flour: 1 Butter

Both kruche  and  półkruche are  baked in an oven heated  at GM5 – 190°C or GM6 – 200° C,  for 20 to 25 minutes.

Ciasto Kruche 1 – using raw egg yolks

Ingredients

340g plain flour

170g butter – chilled

100g icing sugar

3 egg yolks

pinch of salt.

Method

Add a pinch of salt to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Add the yolks and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and avoid touching the dough with warm hands, as it increases its temperature and this leads to increased use of flour.

Once the dough has been kneaded, cool (about 20-30 minutes in the centre of the refrigerator) and then roll out to the desired shape and size.

Roll out the dough and shape it as required.

Note

As this dough is very crumbly – I often find I have to piece and press the dough into the cake tin.

 Ciasto Kruche 2 – with cooked egg yolks

I have seen recipes using hard boiled yolks and always thought “Strange! – having tried this out – I found that this is the best pastry ever! Delicious & crisp.

Ingredients

300g plain flour

200g butter – chilled

100g icing sugar

3 cooked egg yolks

pinch or two of salt.

There are 2 ways of cooking the egg yolks:

1 – Hard boil the eggs for 10 minutes, allow to cool and separated the cooked yolks from the whites (this give you cooked egg whites to add to salads or similar). Use a fork to break up the yolks into very small pieces.

 

 

2 – Separate the raw yolks from the whites, then place these in a colander and cook over hot water (this gives you raw egg whites to use in other recipes).

Method

Add a pinch of salt to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Add the broken up yolks and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

Wrap the dough in greaseproof paper and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Ciasto półkruche -1

Ingredients

300g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

150g butter

100g icing sugar

1 egg & 2 yolks

1 – 2  tablespoons of soured cream

pinch of salt

Method

Add a pinch of salt and the baking powder to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yolks and the soured cream and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a soft dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the use of baking powder this dough is used straight away.

I tend to flatten and shape this dough by hand rather than using a rolling pin.

 

 

 

Ciasto półkruche -2

500g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

200g butter

150g icing sugar

2 eggs & 1 yolk

4 -5 tablespoons of soured cream

Method

Add a pinch of salt and the baking powder to the flour.

Use a knife to cut the chilled butter into small pieces into the flour and then use your fingers to make the mixture like breadcrumbs.

Add the icing sugar and mix this together.

Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, yolk and the soured cream and gently mix this in then and bring it all together into a soft dough – try and handle the pastry as little as possible.

 

 

 

 

Because of the use of baking powder this dough is used straight away.

I tend to flatten and shape this dough by hand rather than using a rolling pin.