Tag Archives: Easter

My Polish inspired ‘Easter Eat Fest’…

I owe a lot of my passion and skill for baking to my Polish Granny, known as Babcia to us. At Easter, I think of Babcia a lot as it’s a time when my family get together to eat and celebrate our traditions. Some are more well known than others, we seem to have developed some of our own hybrid traditions which keep evolving over the years 🙂

I came across the photo below of me with my Babcia, taken at Easter many moons ago, smiling and happily clutching the fruits of our annual easter egg hunt. Memories like these make me smile 🙂

As per usual with my family’s traditions and get togethers, Easter revolves nearly entirely around food and eating. Good Friday kicks off early with…

My Mum rises early and makes batch upon batch of hot cross buns with a sticky sugar glaze…

They’re best straight out of the oven so we all loiter around eagerly, waiting for the beep of the timer. My Mum hardly has time to get the glaze onto them before they’re devoured…

Next up on this year’s eat fest we thought we’d give Polish doughnuts (paczki) a go for the very first time. This may be a little controversial as tradition has it that Paczki are made and eaten on ‘Fat Tuesday’, which falls on the same day as Shrove Tuesday. Babcia was the Queen of paczki and made them for us every year. Now, if you thought British doughnuts were unhealthy you ain’t seen nothing yet…

A Polish recipe surely wouldn’t be a Polish recipe without a good splash of Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka…

First things first we let the fresh yeast work its magic…

Before mixing it up with the other ingredients, including a whopping 8 egg yolks and 2 whole eggs and the vodka of course…

It all looked pretty unassuming…

So I left it to rise in the boiler cupboard. After 45 minutes it was making a good attempt at escaping the bowl…

So I knocked it back and put it back in to rise for another 45 minutes…

It turns out that you should never leave paczki dough unattended for that long. I went to check on it and ‘THE BLOB’ had invaded my parent’s boiler cupboard! There was even dough dripping down the boiler onto the carpet (have no fear that bit went straight in the bin 🙂 Cue much hilarity and a major dough clear up operation!…

I decided it was wise to split the remaining dough into two bowls and to keep a very close eye on it for a last 45 minutes.

Then it was time to get shaping our paczki and filling them with jam, which also turned out to be an extremely messy, but fun, task…

Thank goodness my Dad was on hand to be jam monitor. He spooned a blob of sour Polish plum jam onto the dough for me… 

so that I could gently cover it over and shape the dough into a round doughnut ready for frying…

Now comes the really unhealthy bit…we melted 3 blocks of lard, yes, you heard correctly…lard…

Me and my Mum prepared a doughnut production line…

and then got cracking, frying 4 paczki at a time…

and turning them over when golden brown to cook the other side…

There was no denying that the kitchen had a particularly ’interesting’ lardy aroma but we hoped it’d all add to the end result (fingers crossed). As soon as I fished the cooked doughnuts out of the lard, my Mum got to work coating them in a glaze made from icing sugar, lemon juice, water and more vodka…

Then we left them to drain on a wire rack…

They didn’t remain there for very long, merely long enough for them to cool enough so as not to take the roofs of our mouths off! 

This, Ladies & Gentlemen, is paczki perfection…

They were the lightest, melt in the mouth-iest, most delicious doughnuts I’ve ever eaten. Krispy Kreme eat your heart out…Babcia would be proud!

Not bad for a days work…

However, we weren’t done yet…next up I made sernik na kruchym spodzie, which translates as cheesecake with a shortbread base. The shortbread pastry is so delicate and light. It’s filled with a decadent mixture of curd cheese, eggs, icing sugar, vanilla and raisins before being topped off with some shortbread latticework…

It’s baked for an hour and then left in the turned off oven until it’s fully cooled. It emerges looking like this…

I was dying to cut into it to reveal it’s true beauty…

I was really chuffed with my first solo attempt at sernik. Babcia obviously did a great job at passing on her skills…my Dad was extolling its virtues as ‘pure heaven’.

Another Polish Easter tradition is to prepare an Easter basket. When my grandparents were alive we would take it to church on Easter Saturday to be blessed (Swieconka). We always take great pride in our basket, filling it with traditional Easter items such as home-decorated eggs, kabanos, sernik, flowers, a lamb and a small bowl of salt, which all have symbolic meaning. My Sister prepared the basket for us this year…

This little beaut was my contribution…

After all of that cooking, preparation and very enjoyable hardwork, we sat down to do what we do best…eat!…

Happy Easter to all and your families! x

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Family Easter…food glorious food!

Easter with my family at home involves a few very important components…

hand decorated eggs…

which go into our Easter basket…

which contains all manner of Polish traditions…

including Polish Cheesecake called Sernik

The common theme to all of these components is food! lots and lots of food…

Even my 12 year old cousin, Indy, got in on the baking action with these amazing biscuits…it must run in the family!…

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My Easter cardamom coffee mud (alternative wedding) cake

With the long weekend stretching ahead of me, I finally had time to do a bit of baking. I’ve got a vast collection of food magazines with post it notes sticking out of them marking ‘must bake’ items. A cake in a back issue of Olive magazine has been playing on my mind recently so the decision of what to bake for my family this Easter was a real no-brainer…the cake of choice…a very naughty looking cardamom coffee mud cake…

In my opinion you really can’t go wrong with a cake that contains strong cardamom infused coffee and no less than 600g of dark chocolate!

To make it you need…

12 cardamom pods, seeds removed and pods discarded

200ml strong coffee

200g dark chocolate

200g unsalted butter

3 eggs

80ml soured cream

400g golden caster sugar

170g plain flour

1tsp bicarbonate of soda

30g cocoa powder

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Grease and line a 23cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Lighty crush the cardamom seeds in a pestle and mortar before adding them to a saucepan with the strong coffee. Simmer this fragrant concoction for about 10 minutes until it has reduced down to 120ml.

Melt the chocolate and the butter and add in the reduced coffee and cardamom mixture.

Beat the eggs, soured cream and sugar together. Add this to the chocolatey, coffee goo and stir until combined.

Finally sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa into the bowl and fold it in before pouring the complete mix into the prepared tin.

Bake for 1 hour, check whether it’s cooked by inserteing a skewer or sharp knife into the centre of the cake, if it comes out clean, it’s ready, if not, put it back in the oven for a few more minutes.

Whilst it’s cooling you can prepare your ganache mud icing…beware…reading any further may cause hardening of the arteries!

To make your mud frosting you need…

400g dark chocolate

100g unsalted butter

1tbsp golden syrup

Melt the chocolate in a saucepan and then add the butter in small lumps so that is melts into the mix. Add the golden syrup and stir until smooth. Leave the mud to cool until spreadable. This requires patience, which I don’t have, in my haste I made the mistake of trying to hurry the process along by putting it in the fridge…this accelerated the process too much and when I tried to spread the icing onto the cake it hardened into a big unspreadable blob! PANIC set in but with the help of my Mum, a spatula and a jug of boiling water I managed to avoid total disaster! You should learn from my mistakes but if you happen to have this issue too, all you need to do it warm a metal spatula or knife in boiling water and gradually smooth the icing over the cake, do a bit at a time and then reheat your implement and work on smoothing another section of icing. I’ve learnt my lesson…next time I’ll just leave the mud to cool gradually (out of the fridge) it would benefit from still being fairly gooey for optimum spreading consistency.

Cut the cake in half and spread a layer of mud in the middle before sandwiching it and coating it all over with a thick layer of amazing, so bad it’s good for you, muddy ganache!

and hey presto…it wasn’t a complete disaster and was still a goregously dense chocolate cake with a cardamom coffee twist and a coronary inducing coating…mmmmm!

I got a bit carried away with my decorating and as if the chocolate ganache frosting wasn’t enough I decided to kitsch it up with some Easter decorations and a huge gold bow so it ended up looking like some kind of alternative wedding cake :)…

As a perfectionist, I wasn’t 100% happy with the finished appearance of the cake but it turned out to be absolutely delicious. It only contained only the tiniest amount of flour, which meant that it was amazingly dense and fudgy, even my sister who doesn’t like cake, loved it!

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