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.

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Babka

It has taken me a while to get to this recipe for a super chocolate babka .

I had bought an unused, still with stickers, Oneida babka tin in a charity shop and wanted to try it out.

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I looked up several recipes and tried then out.

The first one was like rubber, the second was dry as dust but finally the third one turned out well.

I have adapted this recipe from one that is found in the older Be-Ro(flour) recipes books.

This recipe just uses cocoa powder.

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These books were ones I used as a child , they contain simple basic recipes for traditional British cakes & biscuits and are very easy to follow.

Cake Ingredients

400g self raising flour

450g caster sugar

1 teaspoon salt

50g cocoa powder

200g butter or block margarine

4 eggs

150ml evaporated milk

150ml water

2 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Grease the babka tin.

One tip I have learnt when using these tins is that it is best to brush them well with melted butter and then sprinkle dried breadcrumbs over the surface to prevent sticking  – I think this works better than flour.

Pre-heat the oven oven to GM 4  – 180°C

You need to use a large bowl for this cake mixture.

Rub the butter into the flour so that the mixture is like breadcrumbs.

Stir in the salt, sugar and cocoa powder.

Lightly beat the eggs and add the evaporated milk, the water and the drops of vanilla essence.

Stir the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients mixing thoroughly to give a thick batter.

Pour the cake batter into the tin.

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Bake for around 40 to 45 minutes, checking it is baked with a cake tester or wooden skewer.

Leave to cool in the tin and then turn out the cake onto a cooling rack.

Chocolate Icing Ingredients

60g butter

1 tablespoon of cocoa powder

3 tablespoons of hot milk

250g icing sugar

1-2 drops of vanilla essence

Method

Heat up some milk in a small pan (I use a bit more than is needed and measure it out after heating).

Melt the butter in a pan.

Blend in the cocoa powder.

Stir in the icing sugar, milk and essence (I add the sugar in stages -aiming  for a slightly runny icing) and beat until it is thick and smooth – adjusting with icing sugar and extra milk as necessary.

Try and dribble the icing over the cake first, rather than spread it on with a spatula.  Then use a spatula to even it out over the whole cake.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

If you have any left after serving, then this cake keeps well if kept in an air tight container.

I use a plastic cake saver from Morrisons Supermarket  which is really useful (however a cake stand on a foot is too high – you have to use a lower stand or plate).

 

The plate is Beechwood by Royal Adderley, 1955  to 1964.

Keks

Keks is the word for a light fruit cake which is baked in a loaf tin or even more so a long narrow rectangular tin.

I am not sure how or when the word keks came into the Polish language but I am certain it comes from the English word “cakes” –  however the word keks is singular in Polish and means cake, and the plural is  keksy which is cakes.

It is thought that the keks originated from recipes for cakes from ancient Rome with the cakes being baked with pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and dried grapes and  using barley flour and then later in the middle ages honey was used and other fruits.

Keks is mentioned in a Polish cookery compendium from 1682 by Stanisław Czerniecki.

Nowadays keks is made using wheat flour and bakalie.

Bakalie is usually translated as dried fruits – however it has more varied fruits than the English version of dried grapes (raisins, sultanas, currants) & mixed peel.

Bakalie can be a mixture of the following:

  • Apricots
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Mixed peel
  • Prunes
  • Raisins
  • Sultanas
  • Nuts – almonds, hazel & walnuts

Of course you can vary the mixture every time you make it.

The use of  sweet dried fruits came into use in Poland through the influence of Turkish cooking where most of these fruit and nuts grow.

Traditional keks is baked in a long narrow rectangular tin, however I also use the English style 2lb loaf tins especially as you can get greaseproof cake tin liners which make life a lot easier.

NOTE

I have tried these out several times and have found two things that you must do to make turn out well:

  1. Toss the fruit in flour so it does not all clump together.
  2. Bake the cake at a low temperature so it cooks through.

Keks

Ingredients -1

Amounts for a long narrow tin

300g butter or block baking margarine

300g granulated  sugar

6 eggs

2-3 drops vanilla essence

300g plain flour

80g potato flour

2 teaspoons  baking powder

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

400g  bakalie (dried fruit  & nuts – see above) & 1 tablespoon plain flour

butter & dried breadcrumbs to prepare the tin or greaseproof paper

Ingredients -2

Amounts scaled down amounts for a 2lb loaf tin

200g butter or block baking margarine

200g granulated  sugar

4 eggs

2-3 drops vanilla essence

200g plain flour

60g potato flour

1.5 teaspoons  baking powder

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

300g  bakalie (dried fruit  & nuts – see above) & 1 tablespoon plain flour

Butter & dried breadcrumbs to prepare the tin or greaseproof paper or liner

Method

Prepare the baking tin by either coating with butter & dried bread crumbs or cut a sheet of  greaseproof paper to line the long side and base of the loaf tin or use a liner where appropriate.

Pre heat the oven to GM 3 – 160º C

Prepare the bakalie (dried fruit & nuts) by chopping the larger fruits into smaller pieces.

Place them in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of plain flour and mix thoroughly so all the fruit is coated.

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Tip the coated fruit into a large sieve and shake well to remove excess flour.

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Mix the baking powder and cinnamon with the flours

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In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together until they are light and fluffy

Add the vanilla essence

Add the eggs one by one, each with a tablespoon of flour

Fold in the rest of the flour

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Carefully mix in the bakalie

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Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and put in the oven

 

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Bake for around 1 hour 30 minutes for the long tin & 1 hour 20 minutes for the smaller loaf tin

Check at around 1 hour & cover the top with greaseproof paper if it starts to brown on top too quickly

Test the cake with a cake tester or wooden skewer near the end of the cooking time to check that it is baked throughout

Leave the cake to cool in the tin before turning it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aynsley, Las Palmas from the 1960s

Colclough 4212, Art Deco 1930s, Blue Violets/Pansies

Keks – using fruit mincemeat

At Christmas time I make English fruit mincemeat using the recipe from Delia Smith but without the chopped nuts.

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If I have any mincemeat over after the Christmas period  when I make mince pies,  I make a fruit loaf which which is very much a keks.

I bake this in a 2lb loaf tin.

Note

You can also use 2 small 1lb loaf tins or even a round 22cm tin – adjusting the baking time.

Ingredients

150 butter

100g soft brown sugar

75g sultanas or currants  and mixed peel

225g self raising flour

450g jar of mincemeat (exact amount is not critical)

3 eggs

Optional 25g flaked almond to sprinkle on top

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM2- 150ºC

Prepare the loaf tin by greasing it, lining the long sides or using a greaseproof liner.

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Lightly cream the butter and sugar

Beat in the eggs, one by one

Stir in the mincemeat and the  extra dried fruit until it is an even consistency – a wooden spoon is good for this

Stir in the flour.

If the mixture seems a bit dry add a tablespoon of rum or similar

Spoon the mixture into the tin and smooth the top

Sprinkle nuts on top if using

Bake for around 1 hour 15 minutes

Leave to cool in the tin before turning it out.

Beetroot & Chocolate Cake

I had a request from the 93 year old mother of one of my friends to make her a cake that included beetroot in the ingredients – maybe a red velvet cake.

Now I had never seen one of these cakes and certainly never made one and I did have doubts about it.

I did some research and found lots of recipes for red velvet cakes but nearly all of them used just red food colouring.

I then found a recipe for a cake using beetroot and tested it out and surprisingly it came out very, very well. The recipe uses sunflower oil and is an easy to make batter cake.

This is not a traditional Polish recipe at all but it does contain a favourite Polish vegetable – namely – beetroot.

Ingredients

250g cooked beetroots (I used ready cooked vacuum packed beetroots  – 1 pack is more than enough)

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

300g caster sugar

250ml sunflower oil

3 eggs

225g plain flour

1 & 1/2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

Method

Grease and line a  21 x 31 cm baking tin.

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4 – 180ºC

Drain the beetroots from the water and place in a sieve for a while to ensure they are dry – you can dry them with some kitchen roll as well.

Purée the beetroots – using a food chopper or blender

In a large bowl combine the puréed beetroots, eggs, vanilla essence, oil and sugar.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa.

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Add the dry ingredients to the other bowl and beat well together.

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Pour the batter mixture into the prepared tin.

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Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Test if done with a cake tester or wooden skewer.

Leave to cool in the tin.

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The cake is delicious and moist – it has a slightly red tinge to the very dark nearly black colour.

Here I have just served it plain.

Served on Royal Doulton, Counterpoint, 1973 – 1987.

You can dust the top  with icing sugar if desired.

The cake is delicious on its own but many versions have a topping of some description.

I made one using butter, cream cheese ( or yoghurt cheese), icing sugar and lemon.

Ingredients for Topping

50g butter

100g of full fat cream cheese, twaróg or yoghurt cheese

Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon of lemon juice

250 – 300g icing sugar

Method

The butter needs to be at room temperature.

Cream the butter, lemon rind, lemon juice and the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of the icing sugar until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

Slowly add the icing sugar and mix well in until it is smooth and firm enough to use as a topping.

You can make the topping ahead of time and keep it in a container in the fridge – topping the cake later when needed.

Take care not to get too many brown cake crumbs in the icing when spreading it on the cake.

Served on Colclough, Enchantment, tea plates from the 1960s

with Portmeirion, Crazy Daisy, pastry forks.

The cake was voted delicious!

Biszkopt – Sponge Cake using Potato Flour

Biszkopt is a fat free sponge cake which means it does not have any butter, margarine or oil in it – just eggs, sugar & flour.

This recipe in my Polish cookery book is described as oszczędna which means economical and compared with many of the recipes which use 4 or more eggs it is.

I used this recipe to make  a cake which is very popular in Poland  –  rolada  which is a  roulade or roll.

I was really pleased with this  recipe & think I  will continue to use this the most.

Ingredients

40g potato flour

3 tablespoons of plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder.

2 eggs separated

65g icing sugar plus 1 tablespoon of icing sugar & extra for dusting.

2 tablespoons of boiling water

Also you need a tin 23 x 32cms & 3 sheets of greaseproof paper

Fillings

Jam

Lemon Curd – This is very English but I am sure it would be loved in Poland –

Marks & Spencer’s Sicilian lemon curd is superb!

 

Butter Cream filling of your choice – I used coffee & rum here.

Method

Pre-heat oven to GM 4 – 180°C

There are lots of steps in this recipe &  after several trials, I have given the steps in the order I found worked the best.

Grease and line a  23 x 32cms baking tin – you can also grease the paper on the upper side – I have found this does make it easier to remove the cake.

Mix together the potato flour, plain flour and the baking powder.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff then add in 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and whisk again.

Whisk the egg yolks until they are pale then add the 2 tablespoons of boiling water and whisk again, add the icing sugar and whisk till the mixture is  pale and creamy.

Gently fold in the flour mixture.

Fold in the stiff whites.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan & bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and lightly dust with icing sugar then turn this out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper also dusted with icing sugar.

 

Place another piece of greaseproof on top of this and roll up the cake (starting with a short side) with the paper.

Leave this to cool.

Unroll the cake and spread with jam, lemon curd or a butter cream filling of your choice & then roll up the cake again.

Dust the cake  with icing sugar.

Rolada with lemon curd

 

 

Blue edged plates 1930s Allertons Ltd

Sandwich plate H&K Tunstall

Rolada with jam

 

Coffee & Rum Butter Cream

Ingredients

2 egg yolks

100g icing sugar

120g of butter

2 tablespoons of strong coffee

2 tablespoons of rum

Method

Make some strong coffee using 20g of ground coffee and boiling water and then strain it and leave to cool.

(You can of course use  instant coffee – my mother used Camp coffee years ago & it is still available)

 

 

Beat the egg yolks, butter & icing together

Add the coffee & rum and mix well in.

You can add a little more icing sugar  if you think the mixture is too soft.

 

 

Sandwich plate H&K Tunstall

Biszkopt -Sponge Cake

Biszkopt is a fat free sponge cake which means it does not have any butter, margarine or oil in it – just eggs, sugar & flour.

The word originates from the old Italian biscotto & Medieval Latin bis coctus – which  means twice baked – though why I do not understand as this sponge is only baked once!

The English word biscuit also has this origin.

This sponge is used to make tort – layer cake 0r gateaux – however as these are usually such large cakes – I have used it for another popular cake in Poland – rolada – which is a  roulade  – often called a Swiss roll  – though I have not been able to find the reason for this  Swiss connection.

Rolada

Ingredients

4 eggs – separated

4 tablespoons of granulated sugar

4 tablespoons of plain flour

Icing sugar to dust

You will need 3 sheets of greaseproof paper

Fillings

Jam

Butter Cream Icing

Lemon Curd – this is very English – but would be loved in Poland – Marks & Spencer’s Sicilian lemon curd is superb!

Method

Pre-heat the oven to GM 4 – 180°C.

Grease and line a  23 x 32cms baking tin – you can also grease the paper on the upper side – I have found this does make it easier to remove the cake.

Whisk the egg whites until they are stiff.

Whisk together the egg yolks & sugar until they are pale and fluffy.

Fold in the flour.

Fold in the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the baking pan & bake for around 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and lightly dust with icing sugar then turn this out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper also dusted with icing sugar.

 

 

 

Place another piece of greaseproof on top of this and roll up the cake (starting with a short side) with the paper.

Leave this to cool.

Unroll the cake and spread with jam, lemon curd or a butter cream filling of your choice & then roll up the cake again.

Dust the cake  with icing sugar.