Gingerbread is a big thing in Poland. Torun hosts the so called “Gingerbread House” (http://www.muzeum.torun.pl/strona-483-copernicus_house.html) that is located in the old Nikolai Copernicus’s home. The museum offers some exhibitions devoted to history of these traditional sweet. It also provides some kitchen space where you can bake your own cookies and later on take them back home.
Traditionally gingerbread was prepared in advance, some of them even few weeks ahead. Ready loaf would be soft and characterized by rich aroma of cinnamon, cardamon, allspice, anise, cloves and ginger. Unlikely recipes I found in English websites, Polish recipes always use honey instead of molasses that gives the cake this nice, honey twist.
For my generation (that is in their twenties) Christmas in Poland smell of gingerbread and mandarins. The latter is due to reminiscences of communism which I know only from my mum and grandma’s stories. They said that mandarins back then were considered as luxurious products, thus not available on a daily basis. They used to be fruits for special occasions like Christmas. In fact, I can still smell them while recalling my childhood memories.
I guess that over the past decades gingerbread became more of a concept then food (if you know what I mean). For meany years it has been a symbol of Christmas. During the WWII, when trade routes and food supplies were disrupted, Polish cooks came up with alternative recipes for this cake. They didn’t even resemble the original taste or structure.
The cookbook published in 1941 by Elżbieta Kiewnarska – „100 potraw oszczędnościowych doby dzisiejszej” (100 money saving recipes of modern times) provides recipe for gingerbread made of carrot, egg flour and lard! Surprisingly it’s not so bad.
Now you can pretty much understand how important this cake used to be and still is to Polish people.
Today I’m sharing simplified recipe for gingerbread cake that will be ready to eat the same day you bake it. It tastes of honey, spices and plum marmalade.
The original recipe can be found here
Easy Polish Gingerbread (12x25cm)
125 g butter
250 g brown sugar (1 cup)
2 tbls honey
2 tbls plum marmalade/jam (if you don’t have it you can use black currant or blackberry jam)
4 tsp gingerbread spice mix (cinnamon, allspice, cardamon, ginger, cloves, anise)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbls raw cocoa
2 tbls baking soda
2 grain coffee (optional-it’s coffee made of grains, not normal coffee!)
250 ml milk
300 g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1/3 cup cream (30-36% fat)
1 tbls grain coffe
100 g dark chocolate
- Heat oven to 175 C.
- Grease your baking form (12x25cm) with butter, afterwards sprinkle with flour.
- Melt butter on low fire, add sugar and stir. Add honey, marmalade, spices, cinnamon and cocoa. Keep stirring while heating for additional minute.
- Take the pot off the fire, wait for another minute. Afterwards add soda, grain coffee, milk and whisked eggs. Stir energetically. Slowly add flour while stirring until your dough is smooth.
- The dough will be runny. Transfer it into baking form and bake for 45-50 minutes.
- Cut in halves after it cools down and spread with marmalade.
- You can finish it with liquid chocolate sauce: bring cream to boil, add coffee and pieces of dark chocolate. Stir until chocolate chunks will melt. Pour over the cake.