Placek with Almonds

I stayed in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) in 2018 and I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt which I adapted and this was posted as PlacekDerbyshire Inspired.

This is a variation I tried out using almonds.

I used Greek style full fat yoghurt – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.

Ingredients

  • 250g butter or block margarine
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 150ml of Greek style yoghurt (full fat)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of almond essence
  • 230g self raising flour
  • 50g of ground almonds
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • Sour cherry jam or other slightly tart jam
  • 50g of flaked almonds

Method

  • Grease and line 22 x 32 baking tin – use 1 piece of greaseproof to do the 2 long sides and base.
  • Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C
  • Place the flaked on a tray and pop them under the grill for a few minutes to toast them.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Mix together the yoghurt, eggs and almond essence
  • Mix together the flour, ground almonds and the baking powder.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar .
  • Add the yoghurt, egg and essence mixture and beat well.
  • Add the flour mixture and beat till you have a unified smooth mixture.
  • Using a big spoon and spatula put the mixture into the prepared tin.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Carefully take the cake out of the oven and place large teaspoon ‘blobs’ of jam on the top – I did 12 teaspoons at even intervals.
  • Cover the top with the toasted almonds and quickly put it back in the oven.

 

 

  • Bake for around another 25 – 30 minutes.

 

 

  • Place on a cooking rack and leave until it is cold to take out of the tin.
  • Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.

 

 

Served on teaplates by Wedgwood, Hathaway Rose  – 1959 -1987

 

 

 

Placek – Derbyshire Inspired

A few months ago I went on a craft week in Derbyshire (home of the Bakewell Tart) and as always I was looking out for new recipes and ideas.

I came across a recipe for a cake using yoghurt.  Now in the past, every cake I have made with yoghurt in the ingredients was not a success with it either being straight to bird table or straight to bin!

Anyway, I tried this one out and was really pleased with the results.

I used Greek style full fat yoghurt and I am sure low or no fat yoghurt would not do! – If using my own yoghurt I would strain it a little so it becomes thicker.

I have made a few alterations to the original recipe.

It is similar to a Polish placek (flat cake) and baked in a rectangular tray.

Ingredients

250g butter or block margarine

225g caster sugar

150ml of Greek style yoghurt (full fat)

4 eggs

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence or the fine grated rind of 1 lemon

280g self raising flour

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

Blackcurrant jam or sour cherry jam or other slightly tart jam

50g of dessicated coconut

Method

Grease and line 22 x 32 baking tin – use 1 piece of greaseproof to do the 2 long sides and base.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180 C

Mix together the yoghurt, eggs and vanilla essence or lemon rind.

Mix together the flour and the baking powder.

Beat together the butter and sugar .

Add the yoghurt and egg mixture and beat well.

Add the flour mixture and beat till you have a unified smooth mixture.

Using a big spoon and spatula put the mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Carefully take the cake out of the oven and place large teaspoon ‘blobs’ of jam on the top – I did 12 teaspoons at even intervals.

Drench the top with the coconut and quickly put it back in the oven.

Bake for around another 25 minutes.

 

 

 

Place on a cooking rack and leave until it is cold to take out of the tin.

Cut into squares or rectangles to serve.

 

 

As a nod to Derbyshire, I used my Royal Crown Derby – Derby Posies – teaplates to serve.

They are marked  XXV which indicates 1972.

Variations

I think that the basic batter of this cake lends itself to quite a few variations – I intend to try some of these out in the coming months.

Soda Breads with Rye

These are two variations of a classic wheat flour soda bread recipe.

I think the slow rise breads you get with sourdough or bakers’ yeast are better but they take time to make.

These are a quick bake if you want some bread for lunch or supper.

I use a yoghurt & whey mix as I nearly always have these in when I make yoghurt cheese, but you can adapt by using a milk & water mix or buttermilk if you have it instead of the whey.

I add caraway as I love the taste but you can experiment with other flavours using fresh or dried chopped herbs.

Version 1

Ingredients

150g rye flour

250g plain flour

1teaspoon salt

1teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

150ml yoghurt

200ml whey

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 7 – 220°C

Flour a baking tray.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl.

Mix the yoghurt and whey together in jug or bowl.

Add the yoghurt mixture to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together.

 

 

 

 

Use your floured hands to bring it all into a soft dough ball.

Place the ball onto the floured baking tray.

Using a sharp large knife cut a cross or star on the surface.

Bake for 5mins then turn the heat down to GM 6 – 200°C and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

The base should sound hollow when the bread is cooked .

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

 

 

Version 2

Ingredients

100g rye flour

250g wheat flour

50g rolled oats

1teaspoon salt

1teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

150ml yoghurt

200ml whey

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 7 – 220°C

Flour a baking tray.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl.

Mix the yoghurt and whey together in jug or bowl.

Add the yoghurt mixture to the dry ingredients and use a wooden spoon to mix it all together.

Use your floured hands to bring it all into a soft dough ball.

Place the ball onto the floured baking tray.

Using a sharp large knife cut a cross or star on the surface.

Bake for 5mins then turn the heat down to GM 6 – 200°C and bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

The base should sound hollow when the bread is cooked .

Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

 

 

 

Note

Soda bread does tend to go stale quickly but is is still delicious toasted and served with butter.

 

 

Tea plates are Las Palmas by Aynsley from the 1960s.

 

Rye Bread

Having made a super sour dough rye bread   ,  I now thought I would have a go at one using baker’s yeast as this is a quicker option.

Only rye flour is used which does make it a harder to handle dough.

Ingredients

500ml yoghurt & water ( around 1:1 ) at hand heat

1.5 tablespoons of dried yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

100g rye flour

**********

650g rye flour

2 teaspoons of salt

2 tablespoons of caraway seeds – plus extra for sprinkling on top

Method

Day 1

In a bowl mix the yoghurt and water , yeast , sugar and flour.

Leave for a while until it starts to bubble.

Mix the rest of the flour, salt and caraway seeds in a large bowl.

Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon.

Aim for a “wet” mixture, adjusting with water or flour as necessary.

Cover this with a cling film or a cloth and leave overnight.

Day 2

This will make 2 loaves – either two round or oval loaves which you can place on greased baking sheets or you can use small baking tins – shallow ones rather than loaf tins work out best I think – I used a 16 x 27cm mermaid tin.

This dough is very hard to work with – I cut it into two and shape each piece without much kneading and try not to add much extra flour.

Cover and leave to rise – this may take several hours – you do not get much of a rise.

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Brush the top of the loaf with hot water and sprinkle with caraway seeds. You can make 1 or 2 cuts on the top of the loaf.

Whilst experimenting with this recipe  I found  that if you make the loaf too thick then it can burn on the outside and still be uncooked in the centre.

I found that a flatter loaf and the one in the rectangular tray came out consistently better.

Bake for 50 – 55 minutes – I swap the trays around after 20 -25 minutes.

 

 

Chleb – Bread

Today is the third anniversary of my blog – I started posting on 4 July 2015 and this will be my 155th post!

I am really enjoying the research, the cooking, the photography  and the writing and have many more recipes to share with you all.

Chleb – Bread

A wedding tradition in Poland is to greet the bride and groom on their arrival at the reception with bread & salt.

The bread is seen as a gift from God and is a wish that they never go hungry.

The salt is a seen as a gift from the earth and is a wish that they overcome the bitterness of life.

Rye

To be called bread in Poland the loaves or rolls must contain some rye.

Wheat loaves or rolls are called bułki or bułeczki but this is also the name  given to some cakes and buns – hence there is often some confusion!

Żyto is the Polish for rye.

Rye   – Secale cereale  is a grain and is used for bread and for making some of the best vodkas.

It grew  wild in Turkey and  since the Middle Ages it has been cultivate widely in    Central and Eastern Europe.

Rye grows well  in poor soil and in cold and harsh conditions.

Nowadays rye is grown primarily in Eastern, Central and Northern Europe and the top three rye producing countries are Germany,  Russia & Poland.

Poland consumes the most rye per person at 32.4 kg/capita (2009) followed by Nordic and Baltic countries. (From an article in Wikipedia).

Sour dough

This method of bread making uses the natural yeasts that are found on the grain and in the atmosphere.

I had never tried using a sour dough method before.  I have now tried it out twice –  even as a former science student  – it felt like MAGIC! – the results were wonderful!

This recipe is adapted from one in found in my American book – Polish Heritage Cookery by Robert & Maria Syrybel.

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It takes around 3 days to make 2 loaves.

I suppose I could halve the recipe but I am quite happy to cut and freeze any surplus and the bread keeps for several days and can always be toasted.

Whey

This recipe uses whey which I often have if I have made any twarog – curd cheese.

If I do not have any whey I make a mixture of around 2 parts yoghurt to 1 part water instead.

Method

Day 1

At around 5 pm mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water in a bowl.

Cover with a tea towel and leave for 24 hours.

Day 2

Again at around 5 pm,  mix 150g of  rye flour with  250ml of hand hot water and the mixture from the night before in a bowl and leave overnight or around 12 hours.

 

Day 3

In the morning

Ingredients

350g rye flour

350g (strong) plain flour

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon of granulated sugar

2 tablespoons of caraway seeds

450 – 500ml  of whey  or a mixture of 2 parts yoghurt & 1 part water

Plus the starter mix from the days before

Method

Combine all the ingredients together.

Aim for a “wet” mix – it is harder to handle but gives the best results.

Knead for around 5 minutes – longer if you can!

 

Shape the dough – cut  it in half and make 2 oval-shaped loaves and place them on greased baking trays or you can put them into tins – I used  a round – loose bottomed tin – 20cm in diameter in my second bake.

Leave to rise  for around 5 hours.

Pre-heat the oven to GM4 – 180°C

Place some water in a roasting tray at the bottom of the oven.

 

They take around 50 minutes to bake – I swap the two trays around after about 20 minutes.

 

Delicious with just butter – Well worth the wait!

 

Racuszki – A Kind of Pancake

A racuch – according  to my dictionary is  a kind of pancake.

Racuszki or racuchy are plural words for them- used much more as you never have just one!  They are small thick pancakes similar to dropped scones, Scotch pancakes or American style pancakes.

In my old Polish recipe book, the recipe uses soured milk, but as I do not have this, I use my own thick yoghurt instead.

Racuszki

1 egg

250ml yoghurt

200g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

large pinch salt.

Method

In a large bowl mix the flour, pinch of salt, the egg and some of the yoghurt, mix it with a wooden spoon. I found my new one with a hole in it which I bought in The Netherlands very good for this.

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Keep adding the yoghurt (and some water if needed) and mix till you get a batter which is thick and then beat it more till it is smooth and glossy.

Then add the bicarbonate of soda and give this a final mix.

Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

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They are traditionally served warm with jam or thick fruit syrup – caster sugar also goes well.

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With Sour Cherry Jam

Yoghurt Cheese Pancakes

I have recently been to The Netherlands to stay with my friend and was looking at the local newspaper and saw a recipe for pancakes using qwark  (I can manage enough Dutch words to  figure out some recipes – especially if there is  a photograph!)

I thought they sounded very much like racuszki, so I jotted the recipe down and when I came home I adapted it slightly by using self raising flour, adding a little vanilla essence and used my own yoghurt cheese instead of qwark.

In the original recipe they served them warm with yoghurt & honey, I also tried them with melted butter & sugar, and with maple syrup – from the large bottle I got from my friend who lives in Canada.

 

 

They were super and ones I had left could be easily reheated and were still soft and not rubbery – I will be using this recipe lots from now on.

Ingredients

2 eggs separated

2 tablespoons sugar

250g yoghurt cheese

200ml milk (you might not need it all)

125g self raising flour

Pinch salt

2-3 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff – I tend to do this first so you can use the beaters for the rest of the recipe – without having to wash them to remove the grease.

In a large bowl mix the egg yolks, sugar, yoghurt cheese, flour, pinch of salt, vanilla essence and around half the milk.

Keep adding more milk and mix well until you have a thick batter – like double cream.

With a metal spoon fold in the stiff egg whites.

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Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place tablespoonfuls of the batter on the frying pan and cook until the base is set and golden then turn them over and cook the other side.

 

Ciocia* Pola’s Apple Racuszki 

*Aunty

Many years ago I went to stay with my one of mother’s sisters (Apolonia) who lived in the area called mazury – the Masurian Lake District in North East Poland.

With apples from the garden she made  racuszki – using a thick yeast risen batter and roughly chopped apples – a cross between a pancake and a fritter. They were delicious.

I have made them here many times using her recipe. Whilst researching and checking other  variations I saw that several recipes used grated apples – these came out stodgy  with little taste of the apple – you need to keep the pieces fairly large.

Ingredients

125 ml of milk (full or semi-skimmed)

25g caster sugar and 1 teaspoon

10g  fresh yeast or 5g  dried yeast

25g  butter

1 egg

125g plain flour

pinch of salt

2 Bramley apples

Icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon  sugar to dust.

Method

Warm half the milk and add a teaspoon of caster sugar and the yeast and mix it all together and leave it to froth up.

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Melt the butter and leave it to cool.

Whisk the egg with the sugar until it is thick and creamy.

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl.

Use a wooden spoon (one with a hole works really well) and beat in the yeast mixture, the egg & sugar mixture and then the melted butter.

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Slowly add the rest of the milk, mixing until the mixture has the consistency of double cream.

Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave this to rise.

Peel, core and quarter the apples and cut them into small chunks or slices cut in half.

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Add the apples to the risen batter and mix them well in to coat them.

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Use a griddle or thick cast iron frying pan and use oil to grease it lightly and heat it up.

You need to try and keep a low to medium heat so as not to burn the pancakes.

Place large tablespoons of apple and batter onto the pan and cook them so that they are golden brown on both sides.

 

Remove them from the pan and dust them with icing sugar, caster sugar or cinnamon sugar.

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Eat them whilst they are hot & as they say in Poland – Smacznego! (may they be delicious!)

Seler – Celeriac – Celery

Today,  4 July 2016, is the first Anniversary of my blog!

What an interesting year it has been for me with all the reading & research, cooking & photographing  and the writing.

I do hope you are all enjoying reading my posts & God willing this is the start of another interesting year.

This will be my 58th post &  I am going to  write about  a  very popular vegetable in Poland.

Seler – Celeriac – Celery

The word seler in Polish is used for both celeriac and celery and in fact celeriac is a just a variety of celery (Apium graveolens).

Celeriac is mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey where it is called selinon.

Now for a little plant biology – in English the stems of the plant are known as celery and they  are long with leaves at the top.

Whereas in the variety known as celeriac – it is the hypocotyl – the swollen enlarged stem above the root and below the leaves  – which is eaten. The leaves come off the top of this swollen stem. (Celeriac is often classed as a root vegetable but it is not the root.)

Celeriac has not been around in the shops in England for that long and last week I bought one in Marks & Spencer’s and it had a label on it saying “NEW“.

Years ago when I looked at my Polish cookery book and it talked about grating seler – celery I used to think oh, how very odd – I wonder how that comes out – I now realise  that they  were referring to grating celeriac.

In Poland you are much more likely to be served celeriac than celery  and it is a very popular vegetable which can be eaten both raw and cooked and is used in a variety of salads.

I have been trying out some salads both with raw & cooked celeriac including some old favourites.  Celeriac has a delicate flavour and easily picks up the flavours of the other ingredients.

Dressings for the salads include mayonnaise, soured cream, natural thick yoghurt & my favourite grated horseradish (I use a bought sauce.)

I have given details of the dressing I have used in the following recipes but they are easily interchangeable.

Salads Using Raw Celeriac

For the following recipes you will need to peel the celeriac – use a peeler if you can as using a knife can take too much off. You then need to grate the celeriac.

Lemon juice is needed to prevent the grated celeriac discolouring.

Simple Celeriac Salad

Ingredients

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Mayonnaise

Soured cream

Method

Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise and soured cream together, I tend to use equal amounts.

Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Celeriac with Raisins & Walnuts Salad

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Raisins – approx 1/2 a cup

Chopped walnuts – approx 1/2 a cup

Mayonnaise

Soured cream

Horseradish sauce

Method

Make the dressing by mixing mayonnaise and soured cream together – equal amounts – and then add 1 to 2 large tablespoonfuls of horseradish sauce.

Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Add the raisins & the chopped walnuts

peanuts

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Celeriac & Orange Salad

Grated celeriac – around half of one

Juice of 1 lemon

2 small tart apples such as Granny Smith – grated

Raisins – approx  1/3 of  a cup

2 oranges

Thick yoghurt

Soured cream

Horseradish sauce

Method

Squeeze the juice from 1 orange & pour this over the raisins.

Leave this for a couple of hours so that the raisins plump up.

Make the dressing by mixing equal amounts of yoghurt and soured cream together and then add 1 or 2 large tablespoons of horseradish sauce.

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Mix the grated celeriac & grated apple together.

Pour the lemon juice over them.

Peel & then chop the other orange and mix this with the soaked raisins.

Add the dressing bit by bit – you want to coat the ingredients but not have lots of excess dressing.

Salads Using Cooked Celeriac

You can cook the celeriac by boiling it in water but I have found that it is much easier to steam it.

If there is still any soil on the celeriac then wash this away with water first.

If your celeriac is large you might want to cut it in half and just use half & use the other half for something else.

Steam the celeriac – it will need at least 20 minutes.

You can use a cake tester to see if it is cooked.

Leave it to cool – I leave mine in the steaming pan with the lid on.

When it is cold peel away the outer “skin”

Chop the celeriac into rough cubes or chunks.

These cooked cubes are then the basis of many different salads.

You can use the cooked celeriac in many salads instead of boiled potatoes as in the classic  Polish Potato Salad with peas & carrots in mayonnaise.

The potatoes in the above salad can be replaced with celeriac.

Celeriac & Gherkin Salad

Ingredients

Chopped cooked celeriac  –  around half of one

1  tart apple such as Granny Smith – grated

Lemon juice

1 chopped gherkin

1 chopped onion – red looks good.

Mayonnaise

Method

Mix the chopped cooked celeriac and the grated apple together and some lemon juice.

Add the chopped gherkin and onion.

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Add a couple of large tablespoons of mayonnaise and mix it all together.

Celeriac Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs

Ingredients

Chopped cooked celeriac  –  around half of one

1  tart apple such as Granny Smith – grated

Lemon juice

2 or 3 hard-boiled eggs chopped

Large handful of raisins or sultanas

1 chopped onion – red looks good.

Thick yoghurt

Horseradish sauce.

Method

Mix the chopped cooked celeriac and the grated apple together and some lemon juice.

Add the chopped onion.

Add the raisins (or sultanas)

Add  the chopped hard boiled eggs.

Mix a dressing using 2 to 3 tablespoons of thick plain yoghurt  and 1 or 2 tablespoons of horseradish sauces and mix the other ingredients.

Leave this for around half and hour so that the flavours can mingle.

 

NOTE

If you hard boil very fresh eggs they are very difficult to peel -it is easier to use older eggs.

Celery, Peanut & Sultana Salad

This recipe is one I got for one of my sisters many years ago and although this is not a traditional Polish salad it has become one of my trusty recipes as it is so easy and as it is best  to make it sometime ahead there is no last minute stress when making it.

Ingredients

4 long celery stalks

Around 1/3 cup of salted peanuts

Around 1/3 cup of sultanas

Mayonnaise

Method

Chop the celery into fine slices.

Mix with the peanut and sultanas.

Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

peanuts

Leave for at least  half an hour before serving – I usually make this several hours beforehand.

Now for a little science to explain why the dressing taste so sweet  and is more runny than when it started.

Osmosis is the movement of water across a semi-permeable membrane from an area of high water concentration to an area of low water concentration to try to equalise the concentrations on both sides.

Cells in the plant ingredients have semi-permeable membrane.

The salt on the peanuts causes water to leave the celery and go into the mayonnaise, this water then enters the sultanas causing them to plump up.

The above is true when you mix many salads but especially here with the salt on the peanuts and the dried fruit.