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.

 

 

 

 

The Perfect Pancake

Naleśniki are thin pancakes like the French crêpes. Their name comes from the Polish verb to pour.

In Poland pancakes are eaten all year round, with either savoury or sweet fillings, and not just before Lent. (In fact pancakes are not amongst the special foods eaten before this time of fasting).

We used to have then about once a week but I never seemed to have been involved much  in their making except for spreading the fillings on, so when I started to make them myself I had lots of disasters!

My pancakes were always a bit hit and miss.  Often the constancy was not constant nor the  thickness and nearly always the first one of the batch would stick to the pan and have to be thrown away.

Then I looked up the recipe in my old Polish cookbook, made a few telephone calls to various relatives and also followed Delia Smith’s advice and bought a special frying pan which I use only for pancakes.

Kuchnia Polska 15th Edition 1971 - Polish Kitchen or Polish Cookery
Kuchnia Polska – 15th Edition 1971

So I now I think I know the secrets of making perfect pancakes and these I will now pass on.

  • Sift the flour
  • You must use a mixture of milk and water – 50/50 is the best – this ensures that the pancakes do not burn as easily and also enables you to make then very thin and elastic so they are easy to work with. (This is the most important tip).
  • Beat the eggs and add then them first to the sifted flour.
  • Add the milk mixture to the egg and flour mix until you have a batter the consistency of pouring cream.
  • Leave the batter to stand for at least 1 hour in which time it will thicken, then add a little more liquid.
  • Use a special thin pan which you use just for pancakes, mine has a base diameter of 20 cm and is made of steel, once seasoned, just wipe it clean between uses with kitchen roll – never scour it or use detergent.
  • Work out how much batter you need for a pancake and find a measure which will then give you a consistent amount – I use a small ladle which holds 45ml.
  • Have a dish of melted butter or margarine and sunflower oil for frying so you can add just enough and tip some back if needed.

Ingredients

200g plain flour

2 eggs

200 ml milk (full or semi-skimmed)

200 ml water

pinch of salt

This amount makes around 8 pancakes.

I remember this recipe as it is all the 2’s for ease, but it will depend on the flour and the size of the eggs, you might not use all the milk & water mixture or you might just need a little more.

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Heat the pan – you want a high heat but not too much to burn the pancakes – you will find you have to keep adjusting the heat. (As I cook using gas this is easy to do).

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Pancake Batter & Ladle

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Using the ladle pour the mixture into the pan.

Tilt the pan so that the mixture covers the surface completely and evenly.

Cook the pancakes on one side and turn then over (or toss them English style), you can make them up one by one or stack then up with a piece of greaseproof paper in between them. You can do this and leave then for later use

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There are many recipes for pancake fillings both savoury and sweet.

I think the 2 most popular sweet fillings in Poland are sweet curd cheese (see a previous post) and stewed apples with cinnamon.

Pancakes with sweet fillings are normally folded into triangles – fan -shaped  by folding the pancake into half and half again.

Pancakes with savoury fillings are normally rolled up and often then put in a dish, topped with a sauce or grated yellow cheese and put in the oven for a time.

In these instructions I have used photographs of pancakes being made with the sweet curd cheese filling.

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Frying the Pancake
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Sweet Curd Cheese Filling
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Spread with Filling
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Folded in Half
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And Half Again
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Dusted with Icing Sugar

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I find two are enough for me!

You can make the filled pancakes in advance prior to dusting them with icing sugar and then heat them up on both sides – using the pancake pan again – maybe with the addition of a little butter.  Then dust them with icing sugar.

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Reheating a Filled Pancake

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Sweet Curd Cheese – Polish Pancake Filling

This sweet fresh curd cheese mixture is one that is used as a filling for  pancakes in Poland.

You can make this mixture with twaróg – curd cheese, cream cheese or yoghurt cheese.

Use 1 packet of cheese, usually 200g – 300g , to this add 2 to 3 tablespoons of soured cream and 2 to 3 tablespoons of icing sugar and mix this together till you get a smooth mixture. You can add 2 to 3 drops of vanilla essence.  Do not add too much sugar – you want the contrast of sweetness & sour.

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Sweet Curd Cheese Mixture
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Pancake Spread With Sweet Curd Cheese Mixture
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Pancakes Folded Polish Style with Sweet Curd Mixture Dusted with Icing Sugar

See Next Post on Perfect Pancakes for Instructions for the above

Other Methods of Serving

Add a spoonful or two on top of red fruits such as strawberries and raspberries which have been dusted with icing sugar.

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Strawberries from the garden
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Alpine Strawberries – growing in my garden.

Poppy Seed Cake 2

Makowiec – Poppy Seed Cake 2

 

There are many versions of Polish poppy seed cakes and many of them use yeast pastry.

This one does not have a yeast based pastry and is much easier to make as it does not take as much time as the more traditional roll.

I often make this one now for Wigilia – Christmas Eve.

The original recipe used twice this amount but I often found it would sink in the middle which did not look as nice so now I always make this smaller one.

This version has a lemon glaze followed by lemon icing – this is my favourite but you could just dust the cooled cake with icing sugar or use the glaze then dust with icing sugar before serving.

Ingredients

125g caster sugar

1 egg

5ml vanilla extract

100g poppy seeds

Grated rind of 1 lemon

65g self-raising flour

½ tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

60ml milk

65g melted butter

15 ml sunflower oil

Lemon Glaze & Icing 

Glaze – Juice of 1 lemon & 50g caster sugar

Icing – Juice of 1 lemon & 200g icing sugar

Method

Pre heat the oven to Gas mark 4 – 1800C

I find this easer to remove using either a loose bottom or spring form tin – Grease a 20cm/8in tin.

Whisk the egg, sugar and vanilla extract until they are thick and creamy.

Stir in the poppy seeds and lemon rind.

Sift the flour and add the baking powder and salt.

Fold this into the egg and poppy seed mixture alternating with the milk – do this in about three batches.

Fold in the melted butter and the oil.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for around 30 to 35 minutes.

Leave to cool for about 5 minutes and release the cake from the tin and put on a cooling rack.

Prick the top in several places with a thin cake testing skewer.

Lemon Glaze

Mix the lemon juice and caster sugar to dissolve the sugar, dribble this over the cake so the top in covered. Leave till nearly cool then put the cake on a plate or stand.

Lemon Icing

The amount of icing sugar you need will vary depending on the size of the lemon and the dampness of the sugar. (If you want less icing use a small lemon or half a large one and 100g of icing sugar)

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

Pour this over the cake.

You can aim for just the top covered or to have drips down the sides.