Tag Archives: Polish

Easter Lamb Cake

Happy Easter!  Easter is a holiday that brings back a lot of memories from my childhood.  One of my favorite memories is the Polish tradition of baking the Lamb Cake, then placing it in a basket to take to church on Holy Saturday to be blessed with samples of the food we would eat for Easter dinner.   The basket would even include decorated hard-boiled eggs, lamb molded butter, salt and pepper shakers and a small carafe of wine.

Easter Lamb Cake

I borrowed my Mom’s cast iron lamb cake mold.  It is very important to grease the pan and every nook and cranny very good, then dust with flour!

Cast Iron Lamb Cake Mold

Close your eyes, take a deep breath and say “I only eat this cake once a year”.

My Grandma’s Pound Cake

yields two lamb cakes (or one lamb cake and 12 cupcakes)

1 lb. butter, softened

2 cups sugar

9 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups flour, sifted

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease both sides of the cast iron lamb mold, then dust with flour.

Cream the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla extract, the gradually add one egg at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl.  Once combined, reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour and baking powder.

Place the batter into the bottom of the mold.  Cover and bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake 10 more minutes until browned.

I also made 12 cupcakes with the remaining batter.  Bake in the same oven for 25 – 30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Grandma's Pound Cake

Gently unmold the cake and let cool completely before decorating.  For this cake, I used cream cheese icing and piped it in swirls.  Raisen eyes are very traditional.

Lamb Pound Cake

What are you traditions for Easter?

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Kolacky – Czech Cookies

The holidays are among us and let the baking begin!

According to Wikipedia:  “Kolache (also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky, from the Czech and Slovak plural koláče, sg. koláč) is a type of pastry that holds a dollop of fruit rimmed by a puffy pillow of supple dough.”

Kolacky are my favorite baked treat because the filling comes in so many fruit flavors, poppy seed and even cheese.  My Mom makes them for any holiday and I am carrying on the tradition.   They are really the perfect dessert after a huge dinner because they are tiny like a cookie.  I made these for a Christmas event at my church and I will be making another batch for Christmas.

Kolaches

Raspberry and Apricot Kolacky

This recipe can be made ahead of time and they freeze well, but because of the jelled filling they can not be stacked on top of each other.  That lead me to design a new product called Sweet Stackers – Stackable Food Storage System.  Sweet Stackers are stackable trays that fit inside a typical 3″ deep container.  They will separate your food items in two or three layers depending on the size of your food.  Perfect for Kolacky or any food that you can not stack!

Kolacky Recipe

1 1/2 C sifted all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 C butter, softened

1 – 8 ounce cream cheese, softened

1 tablespoon milk

1 tablespoon sugar

1 egg yolk, beaten

various pie and pastry fillings (I used Solo brand, apricot and raspberry pie and pastry filling for this batch)

Sift the flour and baking powder together.  With an electric mixer, cream butter, cream cheese, milk and sugar.  Add the egg yolk, then gradually add the flour mixture.  Once the dough comes together, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator.  I usually chill the dough overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°.  Divide the dough in half and leave the remaining half in the refrigerator until you are ready to work with it.  (note: work with this dough quickly and keep any dough that you are not using chilled).  Flour your rolling pin and work surface extremely good and keep it well floured once you are working the dough.  Roll the dough until about 1/8″ – 1/4″ thick.  Cut round pieces with a floured 2″ round cookie cutter or edge of a juice glass.

kolaches dough

Dough is chilled, rolled and ready to cut

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Make a depression with your thumb gently in the center of each piece and place a dollop of filling into the center.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.

kolaches cut and filled

Kolacky are ready to bake!

Hope you enjoy them!

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Tonight, I made a dinner that I haven’t had since my Mom made this when I was a kid.  I just remember her telling me that it is a traditional Polish dish and my grandma used to make it.  Well, since I had a surplus of green bell peppers from the U-Pick farm, I thought I would give it a try.  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make and how tasty it turned out!

Savory!

Polish Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 large green bell peppers (6 medium – small peppers)

1 lb. ground beef

1 cup cooked rice

1 egg

1 onion chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 – 8 ounce can of tomato sauce

Pre-heat oven to 350° and coat a casserole or deep baking dish with non-stick spray.  Mix the raw ground beef, rice, egg, onion, garlic, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Cut the tops of the peppers off and remove the seeds.  Fill each pepper with the meat mixture and place upright in the baking dish.  Top the peppers with tomato sauce and pour some at the bottom of the dish.  Add about 1/4 C water at the bottom of dish.  Cover tightly with foil and place in the oven for about 1 hour until the meat is cooked thoroughly.  (I cut into the largest pepper to ensure the meat was cooked, if not, cover and bake longer.)

Polish Stuffed Pepper

Traditionally, the peppers are served with noodles, dumplings or potatoes.  I served mine over white rice with a scoop of the tomato sauce from the bottom of the baking dish.

Pierogi – Polish dumplings

The preparations for Easter dinner have begun!  Pierogi have been made for Easter dinner as one of the Polish traditions in family.  The cheese filled have been my favorite since I was a kid!  Pierogi can also be filled with potatoes, sauerkraut, ground meat and fruit.  My family would serve them along side a baked ham and Polish sausage.   I can even remember helping my grandmother stuffing the sausage by hand.

My Polish family has been in the Chicagoland area for 4 (and now 5) generations.  This is one recipe that has been handed down and I am honored to know how to make them from scratch, just like my grandma tought me.  They are actually easy to make!

Dough:

4 C flour

1/2 lb. butter

3 eggs

2 tsp. salt

1 C milk

Mix all ingredients and knead on a well floured surface.  Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 1 tsp. salt.

Cheese filling:

2 lbs. cottage cheese or ricotta cheese

1 egg yolk

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 tsp. sugar

salt & pepper

Cut the dough in half and roll out on a well floured surface.  The trick is not to roll the dough too thin because the filling could poke through.  When my grandmother tought me, we used to cut, fill and crimp the pierogi by hand.   A few years back, I found this inexpensive kitchen utensil called a dumpling crimper that makes the process a lot quicker.  Cut a piece of the dough large enough to fit over the handy dumpling crimper.  Place a teaspoon full of the cheese filling into the middle and carefully close the crimper.  Pull off the remaining dough and tada…you have a beautiful dumpling!

Once you have made a first batch of dumplings (around 8 dumplings), gently drop them into a pot of boiling water for 10-12 minutes.  At first the dumplings will sink and after a couple of minutes they will float to the surface.  Flip each dumpling over after 5 minutes.

Let the boiled dumplings cool on a plate to remove the excess water.  The steam will evaporate.  At this point I am going to freeze my dumplings in a single layer (so they don’t stick together) until the day before the dinner.  Using Sweet Stackers, I can get two trays of pierogi dumplings in one 3″ deep container – perfectly divided and condensed for storing in the refrigerator or freezer.   These pierogi were made two weeks in advance and will be served for Easter dinner.

Sweet Stackers Freeze Pierogi on stackable tray dividers

The dumplings are cooked and are edible, but traditionally they are fried in butter and sliced onion.

Oh, the pierogi smell so good, my mouth is watering!

Wishing you all a Blessed Easter with family and friends!