Just back from a short but intense work trip to Warsaw, Poland, where I fell in love with the local cuisine. In Polish cuisine, one can find a wonderful use of natural healthy ferments, like sourdough, which was common to most agricultural societies centuries (and even millennia) ago. I was actually considering changing the name of this blog into “Moj Italski Smorgaborsky”. Well, more or less.
After having tasted the amazingly tasty, earthy, and luscious Polish food, could not help but running to the first bookstore at Warsaw airport and luckily get a tiny lovely introduction to Polish cuisine. There, in the section about traditional Christmas dishes, I bumped into a chocolate glazed ginger cake with… sourdough! I want the honorary Polish citizenship for sourdough merits. Anyway, as Susan invited us to join the special issue on Christmas breads coming out this week on YeastSpotting, I run to my pantry and, wow, I had all the ingredients already at hand. And here comes the recipe.
You need: 750 g all-purpose flour, 200 g caster sugar, 300 g honey, 150 g butter, 5 eggs, 2 tea-spoon baking soda, 3 table-spoon active sourdough (or 3 table-spoon 3% fat yoghurt), 2 tea-spoons gingerbread spice mix (I made my own with 1 part ground cinnamon, 1 part ground ginger, 1/2 part ground nutmeg, and 1/2 part ground cloves), 1 table-spoon raisins, 1 table-spoon chopped hazelnuts, 1 table-spoon chopped walnuts, 1 table-spoon grated orange peel, butter and breadcrumbs for the baking pan. My addition: 150 g 3% fat yoghurt (even more if the dough looks too dry). For the chocolate glaze: 400 g dark chocolate, 150 g double cream, 75 g raisins. Conversions into American measures coming soon.
How to: Pre-heat the oven at 160 degrees (Celsius). Butter 2 oven pans and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Heat the honey, sugar and butter in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Let it cool off. Sift the flour into a bowl, adding the honey mixture gradually, then add also the eggs and the spices and the orange peel and mix well. Add the sourdough and the yoghurt (or just yoghurt if you don’t have sourdough). Finish incorporating gently the chopped nuts. Fill the pans up to 1/3 and bake for 50 minutes. Check for doneness with a wooden stick. When cooled off, melt the chocolate with the cream and then add the raisins to glaze the cake.
CONSIDERATIONS: I totally loved the taste of this Christmas cake. The sourdough created beautiful holes in the crumb and the addition of raisins to the chocolate glaze was really a great idea (that I will use for other preparations). Can’t wait to have another slice for breakfast with a cup of hot tea. Had no idea this work trip would have ended up in a boost of culinary inspiration. Totally loved the country, the people, and the food. Many thanks to Izabella Byszewska for her lovely collection of traditional Polish recipes.
This is going to YeastSpotting. Thank you Susan for the lovely initiative.