Kajmak

Kajmak (or Kaimak in my older books) is a speciality make from cream or milk cooked with sugar and then butter is added. It is very sweet and dense,  pliable at first and hardening over time.

It is similar to a creamy type of fudge and it can also be made from tinned condensed milk which has been boiled and so is very like dolce de leche.

In my American-Polish cookery book it is called Turkish Fudge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is used in a variety of cakes including mazurek.

 

Mazurek with kajmak – this recipe will be in a later post

 

Kajmak originated in Turkey and appeared in Poland in the 18th century in the reign of Stanisław II Augustus (1764–95).   Sugar was a luxury commodity then and this was originally just popular with the Polish nobility.

Kajmak

Ingredients

1/2 litre of milk (full or semi-skimmed)

400g of granulated sugar.

50g of butter

2 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Put the milk and sugar into a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat gently stirring most of the time to stop the mixture from catching and burning on the base.

Continue cooking and stirring until the volume has reduced to about half of the original and the mixture is thick – rather like jam in the spoon test.

Take the pan from the heat and add the butter and stir till it is incorporated.

Add the drops of vanilla essence and stir them in.

Use the kajmak straight away or pour into a glass bowl that you can heat over a water bath when you want to use it later.

 

 

 

 

Alternatively you can also pour it into a flat dish and cut it up as cubes or fingers of sweets later.

Kajmak is flavoured with a little bit of vanilla but can also have the following additions: caramel, chocolate or coffee

Caramel

In a frying pan heat 20g of granulated sugar until it just starts to turn light brown, then add 6 tablespoons of water and boil gently until you have a caramel syrup.

 

Add this to the kajmak before the addition of the butter.

Salted caramel is very popular in England at the moment and you can add a teaspoon of cooking or table salt to the caramel kajmak.

Then once it is poured out you can sprinkle coarse ground or sea salt on the top.

 

 

Here the kajmak was poured into a rectangular dish.

Chocolate

50g of cocoa mixed with around 6 tablespoons of water

or

80g of melted dark chocolate

Add this to the kajmak before the addition of the butter and reduce the liquid until the kajmak is the correct consistency.

 

 

Coffee

100 to 125 mls of strong coffee made from 20g of ground coffee.

 

 

Brew the coffee in a cup or jug, leave for around 10 minutes and then strain the liquid from the grounds.

Add this to the kajmak before the addition of the butter and reduce the liquid until the kajmak is the correct consistency.

Quick Kajmak

In a recipe book I bought recently there is a recipe for kajmak using  krówki which are classic Polish sweets (krówka mleczna = milky cow) described as creamy fudge.

The recipe used 500g of the sweets which would have been two packets – I just used one packet to test them out.

Ingredients

250g of krówki

120ml of milk

1 tablespoon of butter.

Method

Unwrap the krówki and place them with the milk in a small saucepan.

Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sweets dissolve.

Add the butter and let it melt.

 

Use whilst it is warm.

Note

This worked very well & one packet could be enough – I must admit I prefer the original version but this is easier & quicker.

 

Mazurek

Most people know that a mazurek (mazurka in English)  is a Polish folk dance. It is also the word for someone or something from Mazur (the region known as Mazowsze in Polish) in North Central Poland.

A tasty meaning of mazurek, is a flat Polish cake made with different bases and toppings. The varieties are seemingly endless and vary from region to region and family to family. They can be made with yeast doughs, crumbly shortbread-like doughs  (ciasto kruche) or flaky, puff-pastry-like doughs.

The mazurek is usually baked in a rectangular or square shape.

The topping varieties include: almond paste, dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, meringues, kajmak, jam or poppy seed paste.

There is often an icing of some sort poured over the topping.

A mazurek is  rarely over 2.5 cm (1 inch) in height.

It is thought  that  the mazurek, was inspired by sweet Turkish desserts that came to Poland via the spice trade routes from Turkey in the early 17th century .

Mazurek  is traditionally served at Easter when it is considered an Easter treat after 40 days of fasting for Lent and this is maybe why this cake is so sweet.

Another reason is that Holy Week, the period from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday, is a busy one in a Polish household as the interior and exterior of the house is cleaned from top to bottom so any baking  that could be prepared well in advance of Easter Sunday without getting stale was good and the mazurek, often made with an over-abundance of dried fruits to keep it moist  is well suited to this.

When the top of an Easter mazurek is  iced , it typically is emblazoned with the words “Alleluja” or “Wesołego Alleluja (Happy  Alleluja or Happy Easter).

 

 

 

Mazurek made with jam topping

I used ciasto kruche for these, using the versions in pastry-ciasto kruche

I liked the one using hard boiled eggs the best.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C

I used a Mermaid shallow tin, 31cm x 21cm, which I greased and lined – to make it easier to get the mazurek out of the tin.

Using around 1/2 to 2/3rds of the pastry dough, roll out a rectangle for the bottom of the tin – if it is too crumbly you might have to piece and press this in.

Using the rest of the dough make stripes about a finger thickness and place these around the edge of the tin.

Use a sharp knife to make a cut pattern in these strips.

 

 

Bake for 25 -30 minutes until the pastry is golden.

Leave to cool completely.

Fill the mazurek hollow with jam.

You will need around a whole jar of jar and you can heat the jam slightly to make it easier to spread.

Make some icing with beaten egg white, lemon juice and icing sugar and drizzle this over the jam.

Mazurek with blackcurrant jam

 

 

Served here on a bamboo board and  Las Palmas tea plates by Aynsley from the 1960s

Mazurek with raspberry jam

 

 

 

Served here on a bamboo board and tea plates with a violet design by Colclough from the 1930s.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Herbata – Tea

Legend has it that in nearly 3,000 years BC the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, was sitting outside when leaves from the evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis fell into some boiling water which he then tasted – and so tea was born!

Traders from the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie)(VOC)  first brought tea from China to Holland at the beginning of the 17th century where it became very popular & it was Dutch traders that brought tea to Poland.

Tea is mentioned in the mid 17th century by King Jan Kazimierz II (1609-1672) in a letter to his wife Ludowika Maria(1611-1667) and the drink became very popular with the nobility.

Tea in Polish is herbata which comes from the Dutch Herba thee  & which earlier may have been from the Latin Herba thea.

Cza (cha) – is a Chinese word for tea and in Polish the word for a teapot is czajnik.

Poland – a country of tea drinkers

I think tea could be classed as Poland’s national drink and per capita per annum the Polish consumption is the 4th in Europe (figures from 2014) following Ireland, the UK and Russia & in 9th place globally, ahead of Japan and Saudi Arabia.

A typical Pole drinks a glass of tea for breakfast, lunch, dinner & supper and in between as well.

Serving Tea in Poland

Tea is served as “black” tea – though in fact it is very light weak tea – it is never served with milk. It is served on its own or with slices of lemon or  a small amount of fruit syrup  such as cherry or raspberry.

The syrup  in the photographs below is raspberry malina 

Tea was often served with honey although nowadays it is more likely to be served with sugar.  However I usually  drink my  tea without sweetness, except when I  add some fruit syrup.

Polish honey from the lime tree also know as the linden tree.

Note

The Polish for July is lipiec  – meaning the month of the linden blossom – many Polish cities have parks and avenues with linden trees & in July the air is heady with the scent.

 

Porcelain lidded sugar bowl by TCM Germany – bought in a second hand shop in Krakòw

 

 

 

 

 

The tradition way is to brew  a  very strong solution of tea  called  esencja (essence) and this is poured into a glass or cup and boiling water added to make a very light coloured – weak tea.

Often a samowar was used  with the  strong essence of tea kept in the little teapot (often this could be a little enamel pot) and the samowar is used to boil the water and keep the essence warm.

Samo means by itself  …. war means to heat or to boil.

The photographs are of my samowar which is electric – It was made in the 1980s.

My father talked about their samowar in Poland which had a tube in the centre into which you put hot charcoal to heat the water.

Tea Bags

Nowadays tea bags are often used and a very popular brand is Yellow Label from Unilever Polska – Liptons .

20170504_062232

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thomas Lipton(1848-1931) was from Glasgow, Scotland and Lipton Yellow Label has been sold since 1890 when the first version of the Yellow pack with a red Lipton shield was used.

Strangely enough this brand of tea is not marketed in the UK – I used to bring it back from Poland – now I can buy it in all the Polish shops.

Tea Glasses

Tea was always served in tall glasses often with a holder of metal or straw .  Many years ago I had a big clear out and got rid of my straw holders – I so regret that now!

Images below from photos on the World Wide Web

 

 

Last Saturday, I went to the second hand market in Huddersfield and found 2 pairs of tea glass holders, 1 pair in stainless steel & 1 pair in silver plate.   They have cleaned up very well – I am so pleased I found them.

Glass handled mugs are a substitute.

 

China cups and saucers are also used on many occasions –

Herbata & Sernik (Polish Cheesecake)

Royal Albert  tea set – Primulette from the 1950s

Tea is often used in baking, it can be used to soak dried fruits before making a cake or as part of a poncz (punch) to drizzle over a cake such as a yeast babka.

 

Tea & Chocolate babka

The cake stand & pastry forks are Crazy Daisy (21st Century design) by Portmeirion

The tea service is Lyndale, by Royal Standard from the 1950s.

The green teapot is Cafe Culture by Maxwell Williams.

 

 

Oats & Cranberry Biscuits

These biscuits are not at all Polish in origin – I like to think of them as a Scottish & Polish Alliance!

 

Cranberries & Lingonberries

Cranberries and lingonberries grow wild in acidic bogs around many forests in Poland and especially in the countryside where my father lived, in what was North East Poland before the war.

Cranberries & Lingonberries belong to the genus Vaccinium and the plants are small,  low growing, evergreen shrubs

Cranberries in central  and northern Europe are Vaccinium oxycoccos , whilst Vaccinium microcarpum or  Vaccinium macrocarpon  are to be found in the USA.

Lingonberries are Vaccinium vitis-idaea .

The berries of the cranberry are larger and oval.

The berries of the lingonberry are round and much smaller than the cranberry, about a third or quarter of the size.

Image result for lingonberries

Image of lingonberries taken from Wikipedia

The Polish for cranberry is żurawina, the word comes from żuraw which means a crane – so the same as the English word, as parts of the plant reminded people of the bird.

The Polish for lingonberry is borówka or borowina,  both these names  contain the part bor which means (from) the forest.

Notes

1 -There are dozens of different names in English for lingonberry which in facts comes from the Swedish name.

2- The commercially grown dried  cranberries used in this recipe  were grown in the USA.

Oats

Oats (Avena sativa) – owiec in Polish, are grown in Poland  but for this recipe I have considered them Scottish!

Rolled Oats
Royal Scottish – Polish Alliance!

The mother of  Bonnie Prince Charlie(1720-1788) was  – Maria Klementyna Sobieska(1702-1735) – she was the granddaughter of the Polish King Jan III Sobieski(1629-1696) and she married James Stuart(1688-1766), The Pretender.

In March 2016, The Scotsman printed an article titled

Scotland and Poland a 500 year relationship.

Some of the facts & figures below are taken from this.

More Polish nationals now live in Scotland than any other group from outside the UK and the two countries share a rich history.

The links were forged back in the late 1400s when trade agreements were established between Aberdeen and the old Baltic seaport of Gdańsk.

Under King Stefan Batory(1533-1586), Scottish merchants became suppliers to the royal court in Kraków and grain and timber  from Poland was traded with Scotland.

Many Scots moved to Poland to seize new business opportunities and buried in St John’s Archcathedral in Warsaw is Alexander Chalmers  (written as Czamer) , from Dyce near Aberdeen, a judge and four times mayor of Warsaw between 1691 and 1703.

There are many surnames in Poland which are Scottish in origin such as:  Machlejd (MacLeod),  Makolroys(MacElroy)  and Szynklers(Sinclaire).

Around 38,000 Polish soldiers were stationed in Scotland after the fall of Poland in WW2 and many of those who were unable to return to their homeland after the end of the war stayed and it is estimated that around 2,500 Polish-Scottish marriages took place around this period.

There was a wave of immigration in the 1980s with the declaration of Martial Law in Poland and then again after 2004 when  Poland  joined the European Union.

One of the most popular brands of tea sold in Poland is Yellow label which was created by Sir Thomas Lipton( 1848-1931) who was from Glasgow, Scotland.

Since 1995 Krakòw has been twinned with Edinburgh.

Ingredients

100g butter or block margarine

100g granulated sugar

5ml of golden syrup

5ml of boiling water

100g of self raising flour

100g of rolled oats

50g of dried cranberries

 

Dried cranberries

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 5 – 190°C.

Grease at least 2 baking trays – (you will have to take the biscuits off when they are cooked and re-grease these tins.)

Place the butter or margarine in a pan with the granulated sugar and heat slowly so that the butter is melted.

 

Add the teaspoon of golden syrup and then the teaspoon of boiling water and mix well together.

Take the pan off the heat, add the flour and oats and mix this together.

Then mix in the cranberries.

Using your hands, make small balls and place them on the trays, leaving space around them as they will spread.

 

Place in the oven and bake for around 8 – 10 minutes, watch them carefully as they suddenly seem to catch & burn.

I often look at them half way through and flatten them with a spatula.

Take them out of the oven and leave them to cool a little before you use a spatula to take them of the trays and leave them to fully cool on a wire cooling rack.

 

 

Plate is by Royal Grafton – no pattern name – made in England

Chicken Casserole

When chicken for roasting were considered to be a luxury meal, my mother would buy older chickens and make a casserole.

This is a dish I often make as I find it so easy and delicious.  It comes out slightly different every time, depending on what I vegetables I have bought  and what I have in the fridge or my store cupboard.

You can use a whole chicken and put that into the dish with the other ingredients but nowadays I usually chicken pieces with thighs being my favourite .

I have not given amounts because they are not that important, they will depend mostly on the size of your dish.

Ingredients

The following are the basic ingredients, the must haves.

Whole chicken  or chicken pieces – I think chicken thighs are the best

Onion – chopped – you can use spring onion or leek as well, or even instead of

Garlic – at least 1 clove

Tomatoes – fresh, tinned or passata or

250 ml chicken stock  (can be from a cube) with 1-2 tablespoons of tomato purée

Bay leaf

Herbs – I use Italian seasoning or oregano & 1-2 teaspoons of sweet paprika

Salt and pepper

Optional

This dish is so versatile – you can add any vegetable that you have –  I use some of the following: (mushrooms, carrots and peppers being the most often used)

Mushrooms – button ones put in whole or larger ones cut into 2 or 4 without the stalks as these tend to be too woody

Carrots – chopped

Peppers –sliced, any colour, fresh or from a jar or tin, I like red the best

Celery or celeriac– chopped

Tinned sweet corn

Tinned beans – any variety

Lettuce – shredded fine

Parsnips – chopped

Courgettes or cucumber – thick slices

Cabbage – shredded fine

and so on with vegetables …

Glass of white wine or vermouth or sherry

and 2 tablespoons of soured cream to serve.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 4 – 180°C or get ready a slow cooker.

Put the chicken into a large casserole dish or if using chicken pieces remove the skin and roll them in a mixture of flour and herbs and lightly brown them in a frying pan and put these into the dish.

Fry the onions and garlic and add these to the dish.

Add all the other ingredients to the dish.

There will be enough liquid in the vegetables for the casserole, so do not add any extra water – but you can add extra stock, wine or sherry if you want now  or later if the liquid becomes too reduced.

Cover the dish with a lid or foil and place in the hot oven for  at least 3 hour for chicken pieces & 4 hours for a whole chicken.

 

 

 

Tip

This dish is best made the day before, cook it for at least 2 hours and then leave it in the dish to cool.  The following day put it a medium hot oven again for at least 1 hour.  (You might want to add extra stock, wine or sherry if the liquid has become too reduced.) The juices soak into the meat and it tastes wonderful.

Serve with potatoes, rice or buckwheat .

American Crescent Cookies

These cookies were made for me by my aunt on my visit to America, many years ago.

She said that she often made these for Christmas.  I have adjusted the recipe to weights rather than cups as I find that easier.  Also below I have the ingredients for  just half the original amount which will  make around 12 largish cookies … so you can try them out .

Ingredients

110g butter

2 and 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla essence

1/2 tablespoon of water

130g plain flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

120g chopped pecans  (or you can use walnuts)

Icing sugar for finishing.

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM3 – 160ºC

Grease 2 baking sheets.

Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla essence and water together.

Add the flour and the salt.

Stir in the chopped pecans.

 

Take amounts of the mixture larger than a walnut and press this together in your hands – it will stick together easily –  shape it  into a crescent.

Place them on a greased baking sheet.

Bake for around 25 minutes.

Let them cool for a few minutes and then dredge or roll them in icing sugar.

 

 

Served on a tea plate by Royal Grafton – Woodside –  1950s

Whilst I have been writing this post I mentioned it in an email to my cousin who wrote

“Do you know we still use that recipe particularly at Christmas but I can eat them any time. I like them as crescents but also as thumbprint style with a dab of perhaps raspberry, strawberry or apricot preserves–and then powdered sugar sifted on top.” 

and also

“As you know, the recipe calls for butter and my feeling is, anything is better with butter! My best friend gave me a little kitchen plaque that says, “I believe in the unparalleled power of butter!”

So I tried these out using raspberry jam – delicious!

 

Plates are an unnamed Waterlily design by

Taylor & Kent, Longton, England