I was admittedly disappointed when Poland was the first name drawn from the hat for our schedule. The food I ate when visiting Poland in November was not very exciting the first night, and was McDonalds the second night. I (incorrectly and unfairly so) had visions of sausage, cabbage and ya, just not food I would necessarily enjoy (unless it involved Polish chocolate – wow that was good!)
Trusty Google gave some brilliant ideas, and because Tom had decided to cook something savoury I decided to do a dessert. Piernik. Polish Gingerbread. Piernik, and other traditional Polish gingerbread have been produced since the Middle Ages in Poland. Torun, a city in Northern Poland seems to be the main ‘hub’ of gingerbread making, mainly due to its quality soil, which lead to quality flour. The honey was bought from nearby villages and the spices mainly from India and other remote countries. Piernik was initially given to Polish leaders and kings by the people of Torun. Nowadays it seems to be a Christmas delicacy, although the city of Torun still holds an annual gingerbread celebration, Święto Piernika.
I found one recipe initially but it didn’t seem to have much substance to it, so I went with another more exciting one that I found. The recipe is taken from the BBC Good Food website. The recipe I used can be found here. My adapted (although not by much) recipe is as follows:
I only made a couple of changes from the original recipe (mainly due to logistics). I didn’t have a round tin, so I used a rectangular tin. We didn’t have ground cloves either, and couldn’t find them at the shop. I used slightly more cream than the original recipe (and had left over sauce). I buggered up the ground pepper part entirely. I used actual ground black pepper, but discovered afterwards that the recipe had a link describing that the ground pepper required was actually ground pimento pepper. (Definitely not noticed in the final product and I actually didn’t mention it to my family).
The cake received a very good reception. My dad (who doesn’t eat much more than bread and meat) even enjoyed it. My cousin’s husband and brother had double helpings, and my mom claims that “fairies” ate some during the night. My only concern (which didn’t seem as much of an issue the second night) was that it seemed a bit dry. I think it could be due to a bit of overcooking – so I’ve shortened the cooking time in my version of the recipe. Luckily it wasn’t the ‘need to wash it down with water’ kind of dry, and my mom (bless her) says she thinks its how it was meant to be!
All in all a fantastic start to our project.