This is probably our favourite Polish dessert, a “Piernik staropolski” which translates to “old world gingerbread”. It’s a classic at every Polish Christmas dinner (or for that matter, birthday, anniversary or any other special occasion), and baking your own fills the house with the most amazing festive smell. Our gingerbread spice mix comes from a secret family recipe which was passed down by our great grandmother, Rosalia. You can buy it online at www.thesaucysisters.com, and many Polish delis will also stock their own versions.

Classically, this cake takes 6 weeks to prepare, as the dough goes through a long maturation process. We love food, but are also very busy in December catering for lots of Christmas parties, so this quick and easy cheats version gets our thumbs up.

Piernik Staropolski, Polish gingerbread cake

serves 8-10

 

2 Tbsp sugar, for caramel

½ cup honey

1/3 cup sugar

½ cup milk

2 eggs, separated

60g butter

1.5 cups Plain flour

1 scant tsp bicarb soda

1 scant tsp baking powder

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tbsp Gingerbread Spice mix by the Saucy Sisters

1 cup “powidl” plum jam

For the icing and decoration:
100g butter

100g icing sugar

2 Tbsp bitter cocoa powder

2 Tbsp hot water

50g flaked almonds, toasted.

Preheat oven to 170C (or 160C fan forced)

Melt the sugar for the caramel in a heavy based saucepan and cook until a deep brown caramel colour. Add honey, butter and spices and cook on a low heat until melted through and well combined. Allow to cool completely.

To the cooled mix, add sugar, milk and egg yolks. Stir until combined.

Sift flour, bicarb soda, baking powder and cocoa powder. Fold into mix without overworking the batter.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1/3 of egg whites to the batter and fold gently to combine. Repeat twice with remaining egg whites.

Place in a lined and greased loaf tin and cook at 170C for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool and slice off the top to give a nice even shape.

Slice the cake into 3 layers. Spread the jam evenly between each layer of cake, then put the cake back together.

For the icing, melt butter in a pan. Add sugar and stir until dissolved, then stir in cocoa powder and hot water. Allow to almost cool, but still be pouring consistency. Pour over the cakes and decorate with toasted flaked almonds.