Food

Papal Cream Cake

My dad and I used to buy these
at the local Polish bakery on
Kinnikinnic Avenue when I was
young.  I don’t make them myself;
just too rich and I end up making
a pig out of myself.  But really
quite yummy.

Home Poland: Kremówka Papieska / “Papal” Cream Cake
Poland: Kremówka Papieska / “Papal” Cream Cake

Kremowka papieska (Papal Cream Cake)


It was apparently during a visit to his old home town Wadowice in 1999 that Pope John Paul II mentioned casually how fond he was of the cream cake or kremówka that he and his school friends had often pooled their funds to buy from a baker in the town’s market square. More or less inevitably, the next day the entire town was coming down with kremówka, suddenly rebranded as Kremówka papieska, the “Papal Cream Cake.”

Before it went so high-profile, kremówka probably started out as a confection devised by some smart town baker as a way to thriftily exploit extra or unsold ingredients left over at the end of the day. Even a careful baker would occasionally wind up with unsold plain sheet cake, shortcrust pastry, and sometimes even the pastry cream also called custard cream or créme patissiére — which is full of egg yolks and way too expensive to just throw away. When the improvised sandwich of pastry cream and cake or pastry proved popular, someone undoubtedly started making it on purpose in flats and selling it by the square piece — which is one reason why the boy-who-would-be-Pope and his friends would have been able to afford it. (At least one Polish source says that kremówka sometimes might contain a local brandy called winiak, but the Pope apparently made it known that this wasn’t the version he was interested in, but the simpler version that came from the bakery run by the father of one of his friends.)

The version of kremówka which has become standard for professional Polish bakers is simple. It calls for sheets of baked puff pastry on top and bottom — or in the less formal or less expensive versions of the cake, just on the top: the bottom is sometimes just regular short-crust pastry. Of course, when the recipe started to migrate into the home baking repertoire, change started setting in. (Click here to see a sampling of the many ways kremówka can look.)

Some versions of kremówka don’t use puff pastry at all, just short-crust pastry on both top and bottom, the pastry often enriched with egg yolks as in this Google-translated version. Other versions substitute thin layers of a plain sheet cake. Some recipes use a fast version of the rich filling based on pudding mix — see one roughly translated here. You can even find the occasional rare double decker kremówka, with both whipped cream and créme patissiére. And on its home turf in Poland, the Gellwe people (among others) market a kremówka mix. (Their TV ad is here if you feel like taking a look at it.) In any case, the pastry-cum-cake is popular enough with Polish people to have been voted one of the two Polish “national birthday cakes” for the EU’s 50th birthday celebrations.

We give both the puff-pastry and cake versions of the recipe below. As regards the pastry cream filling, please note: the amounts given below result in a cream layer that stands about half an inch thick in a nine=inch=square baking pan. We wanted more cream in our own version, so we doubled the cream part of the recipe when making the kremówka you see in the photograph at the top.

Directions:

Preparing the puff pastry for baking: wire rack underneath,
another one on top to keep the puff pastry under control
If you’re making kremówka with puff pastry: buy (or make) enough unbaked puff pastry to cover the bottom of an 8- or 9-inch baking pan twice.

When ready to bake, trim each piece to fit your cake pan: then score lightly where you will be cutting it later for individual servings. Be very cautious about this, as if you score the puff pastry too deeply, it will split apart while baking. But don’t be tempted to omit the scoring: if you do, you’re going to have serious trouble when you try to cut the finished pastry into separate servings later.

(A note here to home bakers who might feel inclined to make their own puff pastry for this: EuroCuisineLady did, and her experience suggests that a “rough paste” puff pastry might actually work better for this than the more complex puff pastry version; the top and bottom layers of the kremówka would be a little more controllable, and the flavor won’t really be impaired. The full puff pastry we used for our example above actually rose too high, even under the rack weighing it down, and got all over the place when we were slicing the kremówka up. A word to the wise…)

Place each trimmed piece of puff pastry between two sheets of baking parchment, place on a wire cooking rack, and place another cooling rack upside down on top of the upper piece of baking parchment. (This will keep the puff pastry under control while it bakes.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F / 200 degrees C and put the puff pastry in to bake. After fifteen minutes, remove the top cooling rack and the top layer of baking parchment. Bake for another fifteen minutes until the puff pastry is golden. Remove from the oven, remove the second layer of baking parchment, and cool completely.

If you’re making kremówka with cake:

Grease well 2 8- or 9-inch baking pans / tins: coat with bread crumbs and set aside.

Then make the cake mixture:

8 ounces butter
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons water
3 egg yolks
A pinch of salt
Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender. Beat the egg yolks into the water: mix into the flour. Mix well. Divide in halves and spread/press each half to completely cover the bottom of one of the baking pans. Bake for approximately 30 minutes in a medium-low oven (325F / 160C): remove and let cool. Remove from pans when cooled.

…Whichever version you’re making, the custard cream filling is the same.

Custard cream:

2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks
Scald the milk and vanilla. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks. Stir until very well blended (ideally, whisk to make sure there are no lumps). Add milk gradually. Cook over low flame, stirring constantly, being careful to scrape bottom of pan.

Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 3 minutes, still stirring constantly. When finished cooking, remove from heat and pour cream into a bowl; allow to cool, stirring occasionally until cold.

When the custard cream is cold:

Whether you’re using puff pastry or cake, spread the custard cream thickly over the bottom layer. (If the custard is at all runny, put one baked layer back into a baking pan of the appropriate size and then do the spreading.) Then top with the second baked layer.

Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut and serve (possibly with thick whipped cream on top, if you like). A note about cutting: This is where calling this dessert a “cake” comes slightly into question, as it doesn’t handle like a cake at all: the thick pastry cream center makes that impossible. The kremówka will always squish down somewhat when you slice it. However, it tastes so good that no one’s going to care…

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Food

Classic Easy Beef Lasagna is so quick and easy to make it’s even perfect for a weeknight dinner. When it comes to lasagna there are a few simple truths.
— Read on deliciousrecipes79.blogspot.com/2019/03/classic-easy-beef-lasagna.html

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Food

baked brie

Do you like brie?  Our daughter is crazy about it and we are almost as “bad” as she is! I’ve eaten raclette in Europe and the idea of hot cheese is interesting but it’s not something that I actually think to make around the house during a normal week.  Being a Wisconsinite you’d think maybe I would….  but I came across this and loved it.

This baked brie is topped with balsamic caramelized onions and wrapped in puff pastry, making for an elegant yet warm and cozy appetizer!

— Read on thecozyapron.com/baked-brie-with-caramelized-onions/

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Food, Old Diary

Dundee Marmalade

A few years ago some nutcase tampered with a bottle of over-the-counter pain relief and the world of tamper-proof packaging.  But the world didn’t always need tamperproof packages.  We won’t go into the “why” about that, but we will talk a little about the how.

I seem to be on a reminiscence roll recently.  This particular sidetrip is thanks to a new product on the grocery shelf by James Keiller and Sons.  It was a jar of ” ‘TipTree’ ” Marmalade.  I haven’t tried their marmalade; I suspect the name is more a function of the fact that they are no longer producing in the Dundee area of the U.K. and this is an effort to distinguish them from the McKay family of products which claim to continue manufacturing in Dundee.  So, long story short, this semi-ADHD personality got distracted in the grocery store!!!!!!

CONTINUING A TRADITION

The story of Dundee Marmalade begins back
in the 18th century when a Spanish ship took
refuge from a storm, in the harbour at Dundee.
On board was a consignment of Seville Oranges
– which a local grocer decided to purchase.

On taking them home to his wife, the couple
discovered the oranges were too bitter to eat.
The grocer’s wife saw the potential in the oranges
and boiled them up with sugar, to create the
delicious preserve now known as Dundee Orange
Marmalade.

Although the recipe has changed a little since
then, we respect our heritage and are the last
remaining producer of this iconic product in
the Dundee area. We’re proud to continue to
make our marmalade in traditional copper
pans today and to see the end results enjoyed
around the globe.

The current product looks like any other jar of marmalade.  But life wasn’t always thus.  I remember when I first spotted the jar on a grocery shelf in Canada.  It was a white-ish crockery jar.  That alone was unique enough.  All the store bought preserves I’d ever seen in the U.S. (as a young adult) were sold in clear glass jars.  This alone was enough to catch my attention.  But more to the point, there was no hard lid on the container.  About 3/8″ from the top of the container was a narrow groove. On top of the container was a little piece of parchment like paper, folded over the top and tied with a piece of narrow cloth ribbon so that the tie sat in the groove.  NO impediment here to potential poisoning. NO impediment here for someone who wanted to hurt or injure.  Just naive packaging for an innocent world.

That world exists no more.  We have refined and modified our packaging so that people no longer make fun of the fact that even adults can’t get into childproof pillboxes.  The mechanisms have been replaced with multiple lid layers or paper or metal caps underneath the lid.  We have managed to make people safer in a world where people now think it’s acceptable to intentionally harm others.

I have no idea WHY humans have changed in this way.  There is a text in the Old Testament that talks about the “weak” saying they are “strong” and over the years it’s come to mind that we live in a world where people who see themselves as disadvantaged can and do feel so helpless that they are willing to lash out and do the unthinkable — even at the risk of dangerous responses to their actions — because all of the “normal” ways of attracting attention to their needs have proven fruitless.

It’s a terrible place to imagine yourself being.  How would you feel if you had a legitimate complaint and you had tried for years and years to get someone in authority to listen to your needs and yet no one has even given you a listening ear.

I suspect that terrorists are people like this.  If you live in a country that is ruled by power hungry criminals and no system exists to redress your just complaints why not lash out?  Nothing else has worked.  Surely, if you are going to suffer unjustly (or at least you see it as unjustly) then why not share the pain; inflict a little pain on the people who are harming you — maybe if they are touched then they will understand and respond to your injustice.  Of course such actions more often result in retribution than do they result in change.  Weak people behaving as if they are strong only works so long as those who are truly strong restrain their anger.  After all, those U.S. gun owners who think their cache of weapons is going to keep them safe from a U.S. Military with all it’s high powered and sophisticated weaponry if that military were turned on the population because of civilian unrest. Those dreams of resistance are nothing more than middle age examples of teen aged bravado.

I find it sad that marmalade can no longer be sold in paper covered crocks.  I doubt that the product was any better because of the alternate lid — but I am certain that world was better because of the lack of need for such caution.

As for me, I’ll buy my one annual jar of marmalade but I’ll slather most of my toast with apricot jam or maybe blackberry jam.  Marmalade’s a bit too bitter for me. 🙂

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Food, Old Diary

Pierogi

Polish Pierogi are a Polish cultural tradition but that doesn’t mean that all pierogi are created equal.  The recipes for this Eastern European version of pot stickers and wontons can be as varied as their creators.

A great many cultures have their version of stuffed dumplings.  Here are just a few:

I grew up in a household where dough for pierogi contained zero dairy.

After my grandparents and parents had passed I stumbled into a world where pierogi with dairy were far more common than the version I had grown up with… in fact a few years ago I struggle to find a printed version of the dough that matched the version I had been using.  Now that was culture shock for this poor Polish American boy. 🤨🤨🤨🤨

I thought I’d share this dairy version of the pierogi just for fun. pierogiPierogi Dough

  • 2 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 2 tablespoons. Sour Cream
  • 1 cup. Milk
  • 3 1/2 cups. Flour
  • 1 teaspoon. Salt

Mix and knead the ingredients as with any dough. Develop enough gluten to that they hold up to the frying process without puncture and ending up with the “filling” as “outing”.

Cut into rounds with 3″ or 4″ round cutter

Pierogi Filling

  • 1 pound. Ground Meat browned
  • 2 cups. Mashed Potatoes cooled so you can work them with your hands
  • Salt; to taste
  • Pepper; to taste
  • (add 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves, or celery leaves to the mixture if you wish)

Mix ingredients and fill each pierogi with about 2 tsp filling, fold over and crimp the seam (use a fingertip dipped in water and run your fingertip around the edge of the pierogi before folding)

Pierogi Topping

  • 1  Onion; for frying
  • Oil; for frying
Fry the onion and reserve.  Shallow fry the pierogi until done and browned on both sides.  Top with fried onions.  Enjoy!
Prep. 1 hr
Cooking. 20 min

Smaczne!  (tasty)

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Food, Old Diary

Coffee as Relaxant

Nothing tastes better at 4:00 a.m. than a hot cup of coffee — at least not to me.coffee drop  And when I wake early in the morning wanting to go back to sleep, but knowing in my bones that laying there in bed will achieve no joy, that sleep has left the house, the best thing I can think of to do is to get up, hit the brew button on my coffee machine already set for a timed brew, and get up.

But what happens after the first cup or two or three?

They say caffeine is a stimulant. So why is it that after a couple of cups of coffee that it’s often easy to toddle off back to the bedroom and fall asleep for another hour or two?  Is the coffee really acting as a relaxant?  Or is it just the warm and fuzzy feeling I associate with coffee that relaxes my brain sufficiently to fall asleep?

I don’t always get up, work for a while, drink coffee, and go back to bed.  It’s not like a habit or anything.  When I awaken in the A.M. seems to be more a function of how well my meds are working.  Sometimes I make it all the way through 7 or 8 or 9 hours of sleep without a bathroom call, other times it seems that 3 or 4 hours in my plumbing cries out for relief — welcome to the life of the Senior Citizen!  The calming effect of coffee probably has more to do with my psyche than anything else.

Peg will sometimes enjoy a brandy in an evening as an aid to sleep.  That doesn’t work for me.  If I drink something alcoholic shortly before bed I sleep well for 2-3 hours and then I’m awake — often for the rest of the night.  I don’t know if it’s just the way my body metabolizes alcohol, because a lot of people seem to sleep a lot longer after imbibing than that.  But then I’ve never had a very large tolerance for alcohol.  I know 90 lb. women who can drink me under the table.coffee on the ledge

Personally, I’m quite happy with the situation.  I pretty much know that if I wake early, then get up for an hour or two with a cuppa in my hand that I can catch a little cat nap before dealing with the world.  And it’s no surprise that I’m sitting here at 4:13 a.m. writing.

I’m sure some people will read this post and scoff.  All I know is that it works for me. 🧐 😎 🤔

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Food, Old Diary

Slow Roasted Pizza

This post has a strange origin. I woke at 3 A.M. to the sound of the furnace and after resolving whatever seemed to be wrong (I’m not sure what I did to fix the problem) I returned to bed with no hope whatsoever of falling back asleep.

I got out of bed a little later and did some InterWeb browsing where I chanced upon this photo at a website called Bev Cooks:

…and the title “Slow roasted tomato and mushroom pizza” upon which seeing I couldn’t help wonder whether it was the veggies that were SLOW ROASTED or whether it was the pizza?

I mean, whoever has heard about baking pizza at LOW temps? Always, it seems it’s a quest for higher temps and shorter cooking times!

It turns out that the original article was about slow roasting veggies, which wasn’t what I was interested in at all, but I have to give credit for starting my brain in a different direction.

A little more browsing and I came across this recipe for SLOW COOKER PIZZA! What a radical idea: pizza in a slow Cooker! This crispy crust maven was shocked. I am not sure I have ever eaten a soft-crust pie I liked, but I’m intrigued.

To be honest, I haven’t tried it yet. But I had no post for today and took the easy way out!

And I’m not sure I could wait 3-4 hours while smelling the aroma of baking pizza. That might be enough to kill me. 🤣 still, I do think I’ll give it a try some day. The problem being where I am, and where my slow cooker is …. more on that soon.


INGREDIENTS

Cooking spray, for slow cooker
1 lb. pizza dough
1 c. pizza sauce
2 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 c. sliced pepperoni
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. Freshly chopped parsley, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Spray bottom and sides of a large slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray.

Press pizza dough into bottom of slow cooker until it reaches all edges and bottom is completely covered. Spoon over pizza sauce and spread, leaving about 1″ of dough around edges. Top with cheeses, pepperoni, and spices.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low until crust turns golden and cheese is melty, 3 to 4 hours.

Remove lid and let cool 5 minutes.

 Using a spatula, remove pizza from crock pot. Garnish with parsley, then slice and serve.

Cooking time: 3-4 hours


These were the photos that went with the original piece:

 

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