As many as there is homes in Poland, there is just as many Christmas traditions. But I don’t think that I’ll be far from the truth by saying that Poppy-seed Cake is a must on Christmas Eve in most of them.
You have to know that my family has a tradition of gathering in one place for Christmas dinner (around twenty, or so, people) and it’s my mother who always makes Poppy-seed Cake for this merry bunch of people, overstuffed with food. This is just how Poles are – generous and always so happy to make each and every occasion “very special” with any means they have. So it’s true, we usually prepare way too much food and divide our free, Christmas time between eating and going for walks after/before eating
So, the point is that it’s usually a true miracle, if you’re left with any room left for desert after the traditional, Polish Christmas Eve dinner. Yet, somehow, everyone always has some space left for my mother’s cake . That thin layer of yeast cake and sweet, honey and nuts poppy-seed filling is just too tempting to deny it.
So here you go, have a try with a recipe for one of the Polish Christmas classics
50g yeast ( mix it with 3 tablespoons sour cream)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
0.5 teaspoon vanilla essence
pinch of salt
For Poppy-seed filling:
2 egg whites
A few drops of almond essence
A few drops of vanilla essence
Lemon zest from a half of a lemon
30 g of raisins (optionally 30g of mixed nuts)
Boil poppy-seed for about 30 minutes. Drain through cheesecloth and leave it to cool down. Grind the seeds twice trough a fine sieve.
Put the seeds into a pot with butter, sugar, lemon zest, both types of essence and raisins (nuts). Fry the filling for 10-15 minutes, cool down a bit and mix with stiffly beaten egg whites. Spread it on the cake while it’s still warm.
Knead dough from the ingredients given in the recipe. It will be soft and shiny. Leave it for an hour to rise in a warm place. Divide it into three parts; roll each part as thin as you wish (the thinner, the better) and place poppy-seed filling on each of the flans. Fold flans into rolls and put them gently into rectangular springforms with baking sheets in them.
Leave poppy-seed cakes to rise for another hour.
Bake for 45-50 minutes in 180 degrees Celsius.
I recommend using icing on the top of the cake.
That’s it folks. Enjoy!