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.

 

 

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 .

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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.

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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

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

Kohlrabi Salads

Kohlrabi in Polish is kalarepa  –  it belongs to the cabbage family – the Brassicas  –  and has been cultivated from Brassica oleracea – the wild cabbage.

It is a swollen stem and spherical and its taste and texture is similar to cabbage heart and it  can be eaten both raw & cooked.

My auntie in Wembley used to grow kohlrabi  in the garden & on their allotment  but until recently I never saw it for sale in England whereas in Poland it is a common vegetable, it matures quickly, withstands the frost and can be stored for some time.

This kohlrabi I bought from the outdoor market in Leeds.

For all the salads below the raw kohlrabi has been peeled and then grated on a medium grater.

Here I have just used 1 kohlrabi per salad.

Simple Kohlrabi Salad

 

 

 

 

Served here in a Royal Doulton – Carnation dish – 1982 – 1998.

 

Ingredients

1 kohlrabi

2 – 3 tablespoons of soured cream

Juice of half a lemon.

Method

Mix the soured cream with the lemon juice.

Mix the grated kohlrabi  with the dressing.

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple

1 kohlrabi

1 Red or Pink eating apple

2 -3 tablespoons of full fat Greek yoghurt

1-2 tablespoons of apple juice

Method

Grated kohlrabi  is mixed with a chopped eating apple – use an apple with a red or pink skin for the lovely colour – here I used a Pink Lady which has a super taste.

Mix the natural Greek style full fat  yoghurt  and apple juice for the dressing.

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Served here in J & G Meakin – Topic by Alan Rogers, 1967.

Kohlrabi Salad with Apple & Raisins

This is made as the salad above with addition of around 40g of raisins

Kohlrabi & Carrot Salad

Ingredients

1 kohlrabi

1 carrot

2-3 tablespoons of soured cream

juice of half a lemon

Method

Grate the carrot & the kohlrabi using a medium grater

Mix the soured cream with the lemon juice

Mix everything together.

 

 

 

Served here in a Royal Doulton – Carnation dish – 1982 – 1998

The green part of spring onions or chives can be added to the carrots & apples

 

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Cooked kohlrabi in salads

You can steam the kohlrabi – steam several whole ones and peel them once they are cooked and cooled.

Use the steamed kohlrabi in place of steamed  Celeriac in salads.

Carrot Pancakes

Daucus carota – the carrot – was cultivated from wild carrots in the countries we now know as Afghanistan & Iran and are mentioned there in the 10th century and by the 12th century they were mentioned in Europe.

These tap roots were originally white, yellow or purple in colour.

The orange colour that we recognise today was breed by growers in Europe in the 17th century especially in the Netherlands.  It is thought that this was in honour of Prince William of Orange-Nassau (Willem van Oranje) who had an orange stripe on his flag. Nowadays orange is thought of as the national colour for the Netherlands.

These pancakes made with carrots in Polish are called racuszki z marchwi.

They are small round pancakes like American pancakes or dropped scones and are served with sugar or sweetened soured cream.

Ingredients

450g carrots, peeled and finely grated

140g twaróg/cream cheese or yoghurt cheese

2 eggs separated

3 tablespoons of plain flour

1/2  teaspoon of baking powder

Sunflower oil for frying

To Serve

Caster sugar or soured cream sweetened with icing sugar.

Method

Whisk the whites until they are stiff.

In a small dish mix the baking powder with the flour.

In a large bowl mix together well the finely grated carrots, the cream (or yoghurt) cheese and the egg yolks.

Add the flour mixture.

Fold in the stiff egg whites.

Heat some sunflower oil in a cast iron frying pan or griddle.

Use 2 tablespoonfuls of the mixture for each pancake, cook on one side and then turn them over and cook on the other side.

Sprinkle with caster sugar or with a dollop of sweetened soured cream.

 

 

Served here on Wedgwood – Hathaway Rose – 1959 -1987.

Note

I have also tried them with maple syrup poured on them & these were also delicious.

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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.