A streusel (or ‘placek’ in Polish) is a delicious light yeast cake baked with seasonal fruit and topped with a rich crumble ‘kruszonka’. Apples, plums and cherries are commonly used as the fruit filling in the Polish kitchen. My version draws inspiration from my travels in France, using the complimenting flavours of sweet juicy pear, the delicious tartness of raspberry with bursts of buttery cinnamon crumble scattered on top.
What I love about the humble streusel is how fuss-free and forgiving it is to bake. A staple for a gathering with friends or family, and easily transportable for a casual picnic or a trip to the forest. I have many wonderful memories of my grandmothers turning up at a family gathering, with a large tray of warm freshly baked placek. Wafting in the air would be the delicious scent of yeast cake and the sweetness of baked fruit . Like the common Australian-style banana bread, the ratios of ingredients can be varied according to taste and there is no need for stringent measuring to produce a great bake. The only imperative step when baking a yeast-based cake is to ensure that the yeast is not combined with milk warmer than 50°C otherwise the dough may not rise. A slightly cooler milk is ok, though you may need a little more time for it to grow.
Other suitable fillings include: plums, peaches, apricots, cherries, apples, strawberries and blueberries. Alternatively, a poppy seed filling is also very delicious and quite popular amongst Poles.
Recipe for Pear and Raspberry Streusel~Placek z Gruskami I Malinami
For the yeast cake you will need:
2 cups plain flour
1/3 cup milk
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
170 g melted butter (cooled to room temperature)
1 sachet dry yeast
Pinch of salt
250 g frozen raspberries
Crumble topping ~ Kruszonka
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 cup sugar
125g cold butter
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1. Heat milk and allow to cool down to 50°C.
2. Combine the yeast, 3 tbsp. plain flour and 3 tbsp. sugar to the milk, cover with a tea towel and rest in a warm area for about 15 min. You should see the mixture bubble up and double in size. Leave longer if the mixture has not doubled in size.
3. Preheat your oven to 180c or 170c fan-forced.
4. When the yeast mixture has grown and doubled in size, add it to your mixing bowl preferably using the dough hook attachment and a medium speed setting. Add the eggs, sieved plain flour, remaining sugar, vanilla paste and melted butter. Knead the dough using the mixer or by hand until the dough becomes elastic and slightly glossy.
5. Butter a 33x 24cm rectangle baking tray or use baking paper and distribute the dough evenly.
6. Peel, core and slice the pears and arrange on top of the dough with the raspberries. (I prefer to arrange the pear slices in clumps and fill in the spaces with the raspberries for a rustic look, but feel free to decorate to your preference).
7. Combine the dry ingredients for the crumble topping then work in the cold butter with your fingertips until combined.
8. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the streusel.
9. Bake for 50min or until the crumble is golden brown. Serve warm or cooled, on its own or with a dollop of double cream. Enjoy!
Happy baking and Smacznego!
Have a wonderful day,