I'd like to begin this post by telling you a little bit about Polish National Dress. Unfortunately I couldn't look all traditional and Slavonic whilst baking cause my costume barely fitted me when I was 11 so there was no chance of squeezing into it now. I dug up some adorable piccies of myself and Eve in our Krakow folk costumes when we were diddy though, n'aww!
I really love the different colours and patterns on the Krakow dress skirt. The folk costumes differ across the regions with many skirts often featuring more of a striped pattern, but Krakow designs nearly always include roses of some kind, and the most common base colours are red, cream or green. The floral theme is extended to the black velvet waistcoat which is embroidered with colourful threads and sequins.
Key features of the Krakow traditional dress for women:
- Long-sleeved white shirt with rounded collar (puffy sleeves are favourable)
- Traditional patterned, colourful, floral skirt
- White laced apron
- Black velvet waistcoat embroidered with colourful threads and sequins
- Floral crown tied back with red ribbons
- Rows of rounded colourful beads around the neck
- Hair tied into a plait and often weaved with ribbons
- Some costumes include ribbons cascading from the shoulders
- Footwear varies across ages and styles, but black soft leather boots are common as are woven tan leather buckled shoes. Simple black buckled shoes or low black heels are often worn by Poles in exile.
Now that you've have a little taste of Polish heritage, let's get back to the food! After much deliberation, I decided to make Pischinger. This is a wafer desert and is cheating a bit cause the wafers are bought; you just make the filling but at least it's not completely abnormal! Think Kitkat ;)
Coffee and Chocolate Pischinger
6-8 large sheets of plain wafer
9 tbsp caster sugar
1 whole cube of butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
cooking chocolate (approx. 2-3 tbsp)
instant coffee (approx. 1-2 tbsp)
Before we begin, I must draw your attention the bowl in the photo above. I have spied these bowls in the Bake Off tent and it made me feel super cool to know we have one at home! Here's hoping it helps my baking skills soar...
Crack the eggs into a bowl and stir in the sugar. Heat the butter in a pan and when completely melted add gradually to egg and sugar mixture and stir continuously - if you add it all at once the eggs will start to set due to the heat.
Then add the cooking chocolate. The suggested amount is 2-3 tablespoons but this is dependant on the flavour you want it to be. Stir this well. Then mix 1-2 tablespoons of instant coffee (again dependant on the flavour and strength you require) with a small amount of hot water and add to mixture. I also slipped in a teaspoon of vanilla extract here to add a bit more flavour.
Now, alcohol. Again this can vary depending on the taste you want to create. I chose to add Disaronno as it has a lovely sweet almond taste, but anything from sherry to Madeira to caramel vodka is great!
Keep stirring until the mixture is smooth. Leave aside to thicken for 10-15 minutes.
You're now ready to start spreading! I tried to get the mixture to a thickness where you could no longer see the pattern on the wafers through it. Make sure you thin the mixture out when you get towards the edges though because as you build the layers this will push the mixture out at the sides. Don't panic if this happens! Just get a knife and scrape the excess mixture away. When you're done, place a heavy weight on top of the Pischinger to seal the layers together (as you can see, in keeping with the theme of this bake I used a book about Krakow to compress mine... so extra!). Pop it into the fridge overnight. I read an online recipe which said it only needs to be put away for 3 hours but after the trouble I had with the peach fruit leather last week I decided not to take any chances!
Take your Pischinger out of the fridge and using a sharp knife, cut it up. The most common shapes to cut it into are triangles or parallelograms (never thought I'd ever need to use that word again after leaving school!). Place neatly on a plate or serving dish and your desert is ready to eat!
Coming up next week the bakers have been assigned the task of making various different types of pastries. I'd like to branch out and use a different dough to the one I used for last week's pies (which I actually found out is short crust pastry, I just only knew it by its Polish name!), so looks like I'll be trying something completely new again! Only question is, sweet or savoury? See you next week!
A little note on this desert... Polish people don't actually keep it in the fridge. This weirded me out when I found out it has raw egg in it... but I've eaten A LOT of it in my time and I'm ok so I guess somehow this works!
English shops don't tend to stock large sheets of wafer so I'd suggest a trip to an Eastern European shop for these. I went to 'U Cioci' in Edgware which is the most 'Polish' Polish shop I've ever been to, if that makes sense. Definitely an experience worth looking into; It actually smells of Poland when you walk in!