Pear and Raspberry Streusel~ Placek z Gruskami I Malinami

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

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For the yeast cake you will need:

2 cups plain flour

2 eggs

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

4 pears

250 g frozen raspberries

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Crumble topping ~ Kruszonka

3/4 cup plain flour

1/2 cup sugar

125g cold butter

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

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.

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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.

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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).

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7. Combine the dry ingredients for the crumble topping then work in the cold butter with your fingertips until combined.

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8. Sprinkle the crumble topping on top of the streusel.

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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!

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Happy baking and Smacznego!

Have a wonderful day,

 

Jacqueline

Carpathian Mountain Cake ~ Karpatka

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The Carpathian Mountain cake or “Karpatka” as commonly known to Polish people, is a treasured dessert inspired by the magnificent Carpathian Mountain range that extends across the southern part of Poland. This dessert is close to my heart as my father comes from a beautiful city called Bielsko-Biała, lying in foothills of the Carpathian mountains in south-western Poland. A delicate and airy choux pastry base is filled with a velvety vanilla cream custard, that gives French crème patisserie some competition! Wavy contours bubble up during the baking process, and when finished with a gentle dusting of icing sugar, you have your very own edible snowy mountain! In essence; a fusion of a vanilla slice and a profiterole with Polish style, that will leave a memorable impression with your family and friends.

Choux pastry recipe

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For the choux pastry base you will need:                                      

  • 250ml water
  • 5 medium free-range eggs (or 4 large free-range eggs)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 125g butter

1. Melt the butter in the water until almost boiling.

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2. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the melted butter and water stirring continuously on a medium heat for 1-2 min. When the dough stays cleanly off the edges of the pan, remove from the heat and spread in a shallow bowl to cool.

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3. Once the dough is cooled down (so it’s no longer hot to touch) mix in one yolk at a time until the dough is thick and glossy.

Tip: To cool the dough faster, use the mixer to release steam, until it’s cool enough to add the yolks.

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4. Divide the pastry dough into two rectangle 30x 19 cm baking pans, spreading evenly.

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5. Bake in a 220°c oven (or 200°c fan-forced) for 20- 25 min. Leave to cool.

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Vanilla cream custard recipe

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For the vanilla cream custard you will need:

  • 1 litre full cream milk
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 5 free-range eggs yolks
  • 300 ml thickened cream
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, deseeded

1. Mix the flour and eggs yolks with 1/3 of the milk until smooth and well combined.

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2. Gently heat the remaining milk  on low to medium heat with the deseeded extract of the vanilla bean and half of the sugar. Slowly whisk in the egg mixture and continue whisking gently until the custard thickens and just reaches boiling point. Cool the mixture then refrigerate until completely chilled.

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3.  Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Add the chilled custard in spoonfuls, and continue whipping until well combined. Tip: Ensure your cream does not reach stiff peaks before the custard is added, to avoid over-whipping the cream.

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4. Spread the vanilla cream custard over the first pastry base quite liberally and top with the second base. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

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5. To finish your Carpathian mountain cake, dust with icing sugar immediately before serving. Enjoy!

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Please share if you try out this delicious recipe and what you think!

Smacznego and happy baking!

Jacqueline