Gołąbki – Cabbage Rolls – with Mushrooms

I have tried this out as a just vegetable variation.

In my Polish cookbooks there are many variations without meat and they use mushrooms or other vegetables and grains,  but these tend to use just dried mushrooms and often rather than rice use buckwheat or pearl barley.  Whilst these grains are maybe more traditionally Polish in style I wanted to do a recipe which would initially be more appealing to the English taste.  Also   I wanted to use mainly fresh mushrooms.

Ingredients for the filling

150 to 200g of rice

400g of mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

Some butter to fry the mushrooms

5g of dried mushrooms (more if you desire)

A few tablespoons of boiling water

Salt & pepper to taste

Method

In a small bowl add the boiling water to the dried mushrooms , just enough to cover them, and leave overnight.

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Stepped Dried Mushrooms and Chopped Fresh Mushrooms

Parboil the rice and leave to go cold. (You can use any already cooked rice you might have cooked already – it is not that critical  – it will just have a softer texture).

Finely Slice up the mushroom caps (You can chop them into smaller pieces) and fry them in the butter until they are soft. IMG_20150718_151816584_HDR

Making a Pulp of Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Dried Mushrooms

Using a knife make a pulp of the dried mushrooms or chop them into small pieces if they have not softened enough.

Add the mushroom pulp and the liquor in which they were steeped to the frying mushrooms and continue cooking the mixture evaporating of most of the liquid or about 10 minutes.

Leave the mushrooms to cool.

In a large bowl mix the parboiled rice and mushroom mix, add salt and pepper to taste.

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Mushroom & Rice Mixture

Prepare the cabbage leaves

You need a large white cabbage or a savoy cabbage or I have now started using sweetheart cabbage  – you might need 2 of these as they are not usually so large.

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Patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.

You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head.

I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan. With some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil too quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves.

Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled – I think this method is the one I like best.

As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves. Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC

Fill the leaves with the rice & mushroom  mix and roll them up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.

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Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.

If you have any extra cabbage leaves place these on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.

The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.

Make a vegetable stock  and pour this over the cabbage rolls.

Ingredients for Vegetable Stock

Vegetable stock  – I like to use the Swiss  Marigold Bouillon vegetable stock powder which is in a tub mixed with boiling water

1 tube of tomato purée

2 bay leaves

3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both.

salt & pepper ( note there might be enough salt in the stock cube)

Mix up the stock powder in a jug with boiling water, add the tomato purée and then the rest of the ingredients. You need a large amount to cover the cabbage rolls.

Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC

Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.

Cover with a lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.

As mentioned earlier I make these a day beforehand and then put them back in the oven for an hour or so before serving.

They are a complete meal in themselves but you can give serve them with some bread to mop up all the liquid sauce.

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Note

Wigilia – Christmas Eve

I will be writing a post all about the special meal on this day later when all the dishes are meatless.

This recipe is one dish which can be served then.

 

Gołąbki – Cabbage Rolls -with Mushroom Sauce

Cabbage Rolls in the style of Dom Polonii in Kraków.

Kraków
Kraków
Kraków
Kraków
Kraków

In Kraków, just off the main square (Rynek Główny), there is a building called Dom Polonii (The House of the Poles).  It is a medieval tenement building and hosts Chopin concerts in a lovely room with a grand piano on the first floor. I have enjoyed listening to many concerts there. On the ground floor there is a small restaurant.  On my trips to Kraków I have found that  I eat there the most as it is very reasonably priced and the food  is very much like home cooking.

They serve gołąbki there which are cooked without  tomatoes and then served with a creamy mushroom sauce.

IMG_20150718_224019030

The following is my recreation of this recipe.

First I made the gołąbki as in my previous post but without tomato purée in the cooking stock but adding some lemon juice as this prevents the leaves from falling apart too quickly.

I will give a quick re-cap of this recipe at the end of this post.

Then I made  a mushroom sauce and served the gołąbki with this poured on the top.

Mushroom Sauce

I looked through my Polish cookbooks and many of the mushroom sauces are made with just dried mushrooms.  These are delicious and have a strong flavour however it works out very expensive and are not available everywhere.

I am going to  give instructions for a sauce using fresh mushroom and just a small amount of dried mushroom.

I will give 2 versions of this mushroom sauce, the first using dried mushrooms, the second a mushroom stock cube.

The best dried mushrooms are Boletus edulis, in Poland they are called borowik or prawdzik, in Italy porcini.

IMG_20150704_130001024

IMG_20150704_130013474

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Knorr – mushroom stock cubes

In Poland there are now mushroom stock cubes which are very useful especially for making sauces.  Years ago I brought loads back to England, now you can find these in the many Polish food shops. The ones I use are made by Knorr and are shown on the photographs in this post.  These stock cubes contain a small amount of dried mushroom extract.

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The 2 sauces have the same starting points it is the addition of reconstituted mushrooms or stock cubes for the extra taste which is the difference.

Mushroom sauce 1 – using dried mushrooms

Ingredients

150g fresh button mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

5g of  dried mushroom (around 3 slices)

500ml hot boiling water

1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour

3 tablespoons of milk

2 large tablespoons of soured cream.

butter to cook the mushrooms in

salt & pepper to taste

Method

You have to start this sauce the night before or in the morning for use in the evening.

Cover the dried mushrooms with 500ml of boiling water and leave to soak.

 

Preparing Dried Mushrooms
Dried Mushroom in Hot Water
Dried Mushroom in Hot Water

 

 

 

 

 

The following day take out the reconstituted mushrooms and using a knife you can chop then up into tiny pieces or if the are soft enough you can  spread out the pulp on a chopping board.

Reconstituted Mushrooms
Reconstituted Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Mushrooms
Making a Pulp of Mushrooms

Slice the mushroom caps into fine slices and fry them gently in some butter till they are soft.

Add the dried mushroom pulp and the liquor in which they were seeped.

Simmer gently for about 5 to 10 minutes.

sau3

In a little dish mix the cornflour with the milk.

Add the cornflour mixture to the cooked mushrooms and stir gently over the heat until the sauce thickens.

Add salt & pepper to taste.

Remove from the heat and add the 2 large spoonfuls of soured cream and mix well in.

sau5

Note

None of these amounts are exact – they are a rough guide depending on what you have – you can use more water, milk or soured cream and so on.

Mushroom sauce 2 – using a mushroom stock cube

Ingredients

150g fresh button mushroom caps – white and/or chestnut

500ml hot boiling water

1 heaped tablespoon of cornflour

3 tablespoons of milk

2 large tablespoons of soured cream.

butter to cook the mushrooms in.

note

I rarely have to add any more salt or pepper as the stock cube has enough seasoning in it.

Method 

Dissolve the stock cube in the hot water.

Preparing a Mushroom Stock Cube
Preparing a Mushroom Stock Cube

Slice the mushroom caps into fine slices and fry them gently in some butter till they are soft.

Simmer gently for about 5 to 10 minutes.

In a little dish mix the cornflour with the milk.

Add the cornflour mixture to the cooked mushrooms and stir gently over the heat until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and add the 2 large spoonfuls of soured cream and mix well in.

If you can get the stock cubes then version 2 is the quickest.

Basic gołąbki recipe without tomatoes

Ingredients

1 large head of white cabbage or Savoy cabbage*

400g rice

500g of minced beef or pork

Chicken  stock – a cube or concentrate will do

salt & pepper

2 bay leaves

3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both

juice of 1 or 2 lemons.

*As you need whole largish cabbage leaves I sometimes use 2 cabbages to get the bigger leaves. Recently I have started to use Sweetheart cabbage which has large leaves on the outside but you will most likely need 2 of these.

Instructions from my Polish cookbook
Instructions from my Polish cookbook “bible”

You need to parboil the rice in salted water so that it is about half way to being cooked and then strain the rice and let it go cold, but if you have some plain boiled rice left from another day you could use this, as this is not critical.

In a large bowl mix the rice and minced meat and add salt and pepper. The exact amounts do not matter. I like it to look about 50/50 white and pink but these can be made with much more rice to eke out the meat available.

Next comes the hardest part and patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.

You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head. I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan with some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil to quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves.

Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled.

As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves.

Pre heat the oven to GM3 – 160oC

Place a small handful of the rice & meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf and roll up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.

 

IMG_20150718_175505963IMG_20150718_174225478

IMG_20150718_174727954

Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.

A tip I got from my late cousin, Krystyna,  is to use extra cabbage leaves on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.

The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.

Make a large amount of stock with hot water and lemon juice and add bay leaves, peppercorns and allspice.

Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.

Cover with the lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.

I always think these taste better when made a day before hand and left for the liquid to seep in more and then reheated in the oven as required.

IMG_20150718_224006079
In the style of Dom Polonii

Sprinkling some chopped dill or flat leaf parsley on the top will be even better (Sadly I did not have any  on the day of this photograph).

Gołąbki – Cabbage Rolls

 

Kuchnia Polska - Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery

My Polish Cookbook “bible”

A Selection of Polish Cookbooks
A Selection of Polish Cookbooks

grz4

IMG_20150715_181051975IMG_20150715_182325856Gołąbki are made using  fresh cabbage and the name means little pigeon or dove. This name comes about from its size and shape and also from to the idea of this being a little delicacy.

The cabbage leaves are used to make a little parcel with a meat and rice filling and these are then cooked in a liquid stock or sauce.

I have read that this is a very old dish which originally came from the Byzantine Empire and was made with vine leaves, as it came north; cabbage leaves replaced the vine leaves.

The main 3 ingredients are: cabbage, rice and minced meat, and you also need a liquid to cook them in, which in my mother’s case was always a stock with tomatoes.

You can use white or Savoy cabbage. White cabbage has softer more pliable leaves and I think make the best  gołąbki . Savoy cabbage has firmer leaves that are easier to work with but take longer to cook; these can be easier for a novice to use.

You need a large head of cabbage to get large leaves.

You can use any type of rice but the stickier types are the best.

The traditional Polish version uses pork.  My mother used beef as this was more readily available in England.  Now that minced pork is more  available and you do not have to hand mince it, I use either or even mix the two.

gol 3

There are many variations using, fresh or dried mushrooms, buckwheat instead of rice, and a stock without tomatoes.  In fact buckwheat is a more older version as it grows in Poland and rice would have to be imported.

This recipe is my mother’s and for me this is just right!

Mama’s Classic Recipe

Ingredients

1 large head of white cabbage or Savoy cabbage

400g rice

500g of minced beef or pork

chicken stock – a cube or concentrate will do

1 tube of tomato purée

salt & pepper

2 bay leaves

3 or 4 peppercorns or allspice or both

Although the gołąbki take a while to put together, you then leave them to cook in a slow oven for hours which is easy.

You can reheat them on the next day and in fact I think they taste better the longer they have been steeped in the cooking liquid and I always make them a day in advance.

They also freeze very well, so I pack any left in portions of 2 or 4 for a later date. Because of  this I like to make as big a batch as I can in one go.

I use a very large enamelled oval dish with a lid which is ideal for this.

As you need whole largish cabbage leaves I sometimes use 2 cabbages to get the bigger leaves.

You need to parboil the rice in salted water so that it is about half way to being cooked and then strain the rice and let it go cold, but if you have some plain boiled rice left from another day you could use this as this is not critical.

In a large bowl mix the rice and minced meat and add salt and pepper. The exact amounts do not matter. I like it to look about 50/50 white and pink but these can be made with much more rice to eke out the meat available.

Next comes the hardest part and patience is called for here to avoid getting scalded fingers. You have to heat or steam the cabbage to make the leaves pliable so you can remove them one by one and use them to encase the filling.

You need the largest pan you have into which you place the cabbage head. I boil some water in a kettle and pour this over the cabbage in the pan with some heat under the pan I let the cabbage cook a little. The temptation is to boil to quickly so making some of the leave too soft and runs the risk of getting scalded as you try to remove the leaves. Another method is to place the cabbage into a metal colander and set this over the pan of water so that it is steamed rather than boiled.

As the leaves become soft, you have to cut them off from the stalk and stack them up for to use later, you can cut out the thickest part of the stalk from the first few larger leaves.

Instructions from my Polish cookbook “bible”

Pre heat the oven to GM2 – 150oC

Place a small handful of the rice & meat mixture onto a cabbage leaf and roll up from the stalk end, tuck in the sides and secure with the outer edge of the leaf to make a small parcel.

Place the rolls into a large casserole dish, packing as many rolls as possible in rows in the dish. Depending on the depth of the dish repeat this for another layer.

A tip I got from my late cousin, Krystyna, is to use extra cabbage leaves on the base of the dish and then to put extra leaves on the top of the rolls.

The rolls sometimes have a habit of getting slightly burnt on the top as they come out of the liquid and sometimes at the base if they have been in the oven a long time, these extra layers protect the rolls and can be discarded at the end.

Make a large amount of liquid stock with hot water and tomato purée and add bay leaves, peppercorns and allspice.

Cover the rolls with this liquid. It is a good idea to have extra which you can use to top up as they are cooking.

Cover with the lid and place in the oven and cook for several hours. Check them occasionally and keep them covered with liquid as much as possible.

As mentioned earlier I make these a day beforehand and then put them back in the oven for an hour or so before serving.

They are a complete meal in themselves but you can give serve them with some bread to mop up all the liquid sauce.

IMG_20150715_182332084

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Bigos

Bigos is often called Poland’s national dish. It is Poland’s sweet and sour dish using sweet (fresh) cabbage and sour(fermented) cabbage (sauerkraut).

Quick Bigos

This is a smaller, quicker version than the traditional bigos recipe.

I often make it somewhere  in between the traditional recipe and this quick recipe as all the amount are very flexible.

If you can only get large jars of sauerkraut then you can put half the contents into a plastic bag or box and freeze it for later use.

Getting Ready to Cook Bigos
Getting Ready to Cook Bigos

kapusta 3

Bigos
Bigos
Bigos
Bigos

Ingredients

500g sauerkraut (1 small tin or jar or half a large jar)

300g fresh white cabbage – 1 small head or half a large head

100g of Frankfurters or Polish Ring

100g smoked bacon

1 large onion

100g tomato purée (1/2 tube)

20g plain flour

2 bay leaves

3 to 4 peppercorns

sugar or lemon juice to taste – optional

fat/oil to fry in

note – salt should not be needed as the sausage and bacon contain salt.

Finely chop the fresh cabbage into long strands and place in a large pan with the sauerkraut.

In a jug mix the tomato purée with some hot water and then add this to the pan. Add more boiling water to cover the cabbage mixture.

Add the bay leaves and peppercorns and then boil gently till the cabbage is becoming soft.

Slice up the various smoked sausages, chop the bacon into small squares and add to the cabbage mixture and boil gently till everything is soft.

Chop the onion into small pieces and fry till golden, add the flour and fry till the mixture is just about to burn and then add this mixture to the bigos.

Adjust the sourness to taste with sugar and or lemon juice.

Now you can either heat it all together gently over a low heat with a lid on the pan, stirring the mixture occasionally or put the mixture into a large oven proof dish (I use an enamelled dish) with a lid and put it in the oven at GM 4 – 180oC for about 2 hours.

Bigos tastes better if made one day, left overnight, and then reheated in a saucepan or in a dish in the oven.

Note

Bigos freezes well – I portion it up into manageable portions which will serve 2 or 3 – wrapping it in plastic bags within a plastic box to prevent the tomato staining the plastic.

Serving

Bigos is usually served with rye bread but I often serve it with boiled or mashed potatoes.

Poles Love to Eat Cabbage

Cabbage is a vegetable that plays a very large part in Polish cookery.  It can be eaten raw  in a variety of salads or cooked in many different ways.

Cabbages grow well in Poland and they can be stored for part of the winter so giving a supply for most of the year.

Veg Market - Copy

Cabbages For Sale in a Polish Market

Cabbages can also be preserved by allowing them to ferment using brine. This fermented cabbage is called sauerkraut in German which means sour cabbage.

My parents used to tell me about how their parents made barrels and barrels of fermented cabbage, shredding the cabbage finely, adding salt and packing it firmly into the barrels. This was standard work after harvesting cabbages and would provide a basic ingredient for many dishes throughout the coming year.

One of my aunties in Poland who lives in a block of flats makes her own sauerkraut in a bucket which stands on her balcony. She is not alone in this.

Street market in Krakow – Sauerkraut and Sausage
Sauerkraut and Sausage
Sauerkraut and Sausage

On a recent trip to Poland I bought a little book on cabbage cookery.  The title, translates as “Falling in Love with Cabbage”; I think most Poles do this at a very early age as cabbage features, fresh or sour, in so many meals.

Falling In Love With Cabbage

Falling In Love With Cabbage

In my next posts I am going to cover some classic Polish recipes for cabbage including bigos and gołąbki (cabbage rolls)- as seen on the book cover.

Bigos

Bigos

 

 

Polish Meals

Polish Meals

The following is a general description and of course times  will vary with people and circumstances.

The Polish day seems to start a lot earlier than in England with many people starting work at 7.30am and finishing by 3pm.

Schools often start at 8am and are finished by 2pm.

There are four meals in a Polish day.

1 śniadanie – breakfast

This is a hearty meal from about 5.30amto 7am to set you up for the day.

This will consist of: cured meats, Polish sausage, cheese, hard boiled or scrambled eggs, gherkins, cucumber and tomatoes with bread and rolls, all served with lots of tea. (Tea is quite weak served with slices of lemon or fruit syrup such as raspberry). There may also be some cake.

2 drugie śniadanie – second breakfast

This will be eaten at about 11am. It is a lighter meal than the first breakfast, though often with the same types of food – sometimes it will be just a sandwich – especially if eaten at work or school.

3 obiad – dinner – the main meal of the day

This is eaten between 1pm and 5pm with around 3pm being a very popular time.

This will consist of 2 or 3 courses:

  • Soup
  • Main
  • Dessert of fruit or cake – optional course

Soup is very popular in Poland from hot or cold soups, light consommé types to thick and hearty featuring throughout the year.

I heard a saying on one of my visits to Poland –

Polak bez zupy robi się smutny

This translates as –

A Pole without soup becomes sad.

I think this is very true.

4 kolacja – supper

This is the lightest meal of the day eaten between 7pm to 9pm. It can often be just a slice of cake.

Getting Ready For Dinner

Oak Sideboard
Oak Sideboard
Oak Sideboard
Oak Sideboard
Section of Tablecloths
Section of Tablecloths
Some of my Many Tablecloths
Some of my Many Tablecloths
Setting the Table for Dinner
Setting the Table for Dinner
Ready for Soup!
Ready for Soup!

 

Poppy Seed Cakes and Yeast Cakes

Yeast Cake

Makowiec
Traditional Poppy Seed Cake
book pic mak
Photo from my Old Polish Cookbook
Kuchnia Polska - Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery
Kuchnia Polska – Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery

 

Weighing Poppy Seeds
Weighing Poppy Seeds

 

poppy mix
Poppy seed mix

I do not know why but the smell of baking yeast cakes just fills me with warm loving feeling, it is so wonderful.

Yeast cakes feature greatly in Polish festivals and there is Babka for Easter, Makowiec (Poppy seed roll) for Christmas Eve and doughnuts before the start of Lent and New Year’s Eve and Epiphany.

Surprisingly my mother did not seem to have a great success with yeast cookery, maybe her kitchen was a bit cool, I do not know.   We got our yeast cakes from her friends. I have done lots of experimenting with yeast recipes and have had a lot of success (and some failures from which I also learnt much!). I now know that you can succeed in a cool kitchen; you just have to start a day beforehand.

Watching the yeast rise still seems like magic to me even though I am well aware of the science that makes it happen. It can be unpredictable and depends on the yeast and the temperature.

I prefer to use fresh yeast but cannot always get it, so now I use dried yeast and also get good results. I have used the type of yeast that you add straight to the flour but I like to see that the yeast is active before it goes into the flour so this is not my favourite type – but I have to admit is does work in many recipes.

Many  recipes use a batter starter and I like this method as you can see the yeast making the mixture really rise.

The best time to make a yeast cake is on a day when you are in and doing other things as the times for rising and proving can vary, you have to be around and do the next stage when the time is right, you cannot rush it.

One of the drawbacks with yeast pastry is that the cakes go stale very quickly so you need lots of people on hand to help to eat it all.

Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds are the blue-grey seeds of the poppy – Papaver somniferum. They have been used since antiquity and were known in Egyptian, Minoan and Sumerian cultures. They are used in European and Middle Eastern cooking and are especially popular in Jewish and in Polish cooking.

Mak is the Polish word for poppy seed and a cake made with poppy seeds is called makowiec.

This is one of the dishes served on Christmas Eve and I will be writing about the food for that evening later in the year.

Makowiec – Poppy Seed Roll

Traditional Recipe

This classic yeast cake is served on Christmas Eve. Poppy seeds and honey are used to make a filling which I think is just so delicious. Some fillings also use dried fruits such as raisins but I prefer it without.

I have been searching for many years for the best recipe for this cake and I think I now have it. Many recipes that I have tried, have made a cake which is so large that it has tried to escape out of the baking tray and the oven and I have been experimenting to get an amount which is more suitable for the standard size oven in the United Kingdom.

Also the shape of a nice roll of cake has eluded me till now, mine seemed to rise too much and crack and spread across the baking tray with all the filling escaping!

On a  visit to Poland I was given a suggested that you wrap the rising yeast roll in greaseproof paper to keep its shape and this worked.   So at last I have the size and shape that works well.

Without a doubt this recipes is time consuming – so in my next posts I will give some easier simpler variations which are also delicious.

There are 3 parts to the making of this cake: the poppy seed filling, the yeast pastry and the icing.

Poppy Seed Filling

I make the poppy seed filling first, or during the time the yeast is rising, as it has to be cool when used. You can make the filling ahead of time – there are several stages where you can leave it to finish later. I often make till until the addition of the butter and add the rum and egg just before I need it. You can also freeze this filling at this stage.

 Ingredients

200g poppy seeds

500ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)

50g ground almonds

120 ml runny honey & 1 tablespoon

25g butter

1 large egg – separated

1 tablespoon of  rum

¼ teaspoon of vanilla essence

Put the poppy seeds and milk into a saucepan and simmer then together for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to stop any sticking or burning. The aim is to cook the seeds and adsorb as much of the milk as possible. You need to watch this carefully and keep adjusting the heat to stop the mixture burning.

Using a fine sieve, strain the poppy seeds from the liquid – leave this for a while to remove as much liquid as possible.

The poppy seeds need to be crushed, I use a hand held blender for about 5 minutes which I find is the easiest way but you can use a pestle and mortar or a mincer.

Once crushed, place the poppy seeds back into a saucepan and add the ground almonds, the vanilla essence and the 120ml of honey and mix thoroughly.

Add the butter to the mixture and simmer gently for about 5 minutes and then leave this mixture to cool completely and then add the rum.

Whisk the 15ml (1 tablespoon) of honey with the egg yolk until this is thick and creamy and then add this to the mixture.

Just before you need the filling, whisk the egg white until it is stiff and then fold this egg white into the poppy seed mixture.

Yeast Pastry

This is made in 2 stages

Yeast Starter

5g fresh yeast or a 1/2 teaspoon of dried yeast

40g plain flour

60ml of milk (whole or semi-skimmed)

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl then cover this with a tea towel or cling film and leave the bowl in a warm place for 3 hours.

After this place the bowl in the fridge – you can leave this overnight.

Rest of Dough

10g fresh yeast or 1 teaspoon of dried yeast

40g sugar

60ml milk (whole or semi-skimmed)

1 egg and 2 egg yolks

300g plain flour

pinch of salt

100g butter at room temperature

Warm the milk slightly and put it into a large bowl, add the yeast and sugar and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes or until you can see that the yeast is active and rising.

Add the starter, the egg and egg yolks, the pinch of salt and the flour. Mix and then knead the dough until it forms a soft ball.

Cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film and leave for 15 minutes.

Add the butter in tablespoonful amounts to the dough, kneading slightly at each addition and then knead the dough for 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and elastic but not sticky, if it is too sticky add some more flour knead till it is the correct texture.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave to rise.

Putting together the poppy seed roll

Have ready a greased baking tray as the size of rectangle of dough you need is governed by the length of the baking tray.

When the dough is ready, roll it out into a rectangle of around 20cm by 25cm. It will be about 1cm in thickness.

Place the filling onto the dough leaving about 2cm clear at all the edges.

Roll up the poppy seed roll lengthwise and then enclose the roll reasonably tightly lengthwise in greaseproof paper, do not cover the ends of the roll which will rise and expand lengthwise.

Place the roll onto a baking sheet with at least 5cm at each end to allow for the expansion and leave this to rise for about 1 hour.

Pre heat the oven to GM4 – 180oC

Place the risen roll into the oven with the greaseproof paper still on.

Bake for about 40 minutes and then cool on a wire rack, remove the greaseproof paper as soon as the roll has cooled slightly.

Before serving dust the roll with icing sugar – or you can glaze it with a thin lemon icing.

I cut the short end of the roll off and do not serve these.

Lemon Icing

Juice of ½ lemon

100g icing sugar – sieved

The amount of icing sugar you need will vary, depending on the size of the lemon and the dampness of the sugar.

Place the lemon juice in a bowl and slowly add the sugar mixing it with a wooden spoon is best, use more or less sugar to make a soft runny icing which will coat the back of the spoon.

Easier Recipes

So that is the end of my first recipe, which does take quite a while to make but I felt I had to include this traditional version especially now I have mastered it.

There are many other poppy seed cakes and I will be continuing next with a few of these. They quicker and easier to make but are still very delicious and also a few recipes for poppy seed cakes which have evolved from these.

My Polish Background

My parents met in England after the Second World War. They had come from different parts of North East Poland through many countries and many hard times; they met in Hereford and married there.

I was born in Penley (Polish Hospital) in the then County of Flint in North Wales.

I grew up in Lancashire with a large Polish community around us and my mother cooked very traditional Polish food.

I now live in West Yorkshire  and continue to cook traditional Polish food although often with a modern twist.

The winters are long and hard in Poland and the traditional dishes use ingredients which will survive through these winter months: smoked meats, picked herrings, potatoes, cabbage, pickled cabbage and gherkins, dried mushrooms, buckwheat, rye, dried fruits, poppy and caraway seeds and honey.

The summers are usually warm and there are lots of red berries, apples, fresh dill, flat leaved parsley, tomatoes, carrots and spring onions. Soured milk, soured cream and curd cheese feature in many dishes as this was the way to extend the life of dairy products before refrigeration. Much of the summer produce that was not eaten would be preserved for the winter by drying, bottling, pickling or made into jams.

Both my parents had grown up in the country side on small farms and their families had grown crops, kept animals and knew how to cure meats and preserve fruit and vegetables.

My father’s family’s land had some woodland and bordered onto a small river, and he used to say that with this they were very rich as they could hunt for small animals and birds, catch fish and find mushrooms, nuts and berries.

The Poles are very hospitable and passionate about good food, no guest invited or unexpected is ever sent away hungry. My childhood memories are filled with every occasion possible celebrated with tables filled with delicious food and people of all ages together.

The Polish kitchen seems to rely on one cook who spends a great deal of time preparing food for the extended family and “fast food” is not a description one would use of many of the dishes. However although many take a while to prepare they can then be left to cook slowly and are ideal to be reheated so there is no last minute panic and what is made can serve for several meals.

I would help my mother in the kitchen and when we went to visit my father’s family in London I would always be interested in what was the same and what was different and looked for new ideas.

I visited Poland for the first time in 1979; a time of shortages and queues however I have never tasted food with so much flavour as then. I tried old favourites and found new ideas. When I visited family and friends in the United States of America a few years later I once again tried lots of my old favourites to eat.

I have now visited Poland many times, sometimes to aunts and cousins on both my mother’s and father’s side and also to places in which I do not have family and have then eaten in hotels, restaurants, cafes and found teashops with such a variety of cakes that I have never been able to sample everything in the time I was there.

I am always pleased to have such wonderful food and take the opportunity to have my favourite dishes but in the last few trips I have been doing some research into regional variations and new versions of older recipes.

In my blog I will feature a selection of my favourite recipes from family and friends and some new discoveries, as well as some dishes that have evolved from older recipes.

So as you follow my blog and try the recipes may I wish you, as they do in Poland before eating, smacznego! (may it taste delicious).