> Lemon and Strawberries: Mazurek with kajmak (dulce de leche) and dried fruits - Polish Easter dessert

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mazurek with kajmak (dulce de leche) and dried fruits - Polish Easter dessert

Mazurek is a type of Polish short pastry made traditionally on Easter. There are few theories about origins of its name. One says it derived from "Mazur" which was a tribe living in Mazovia region of Poland, the other states that Mazurek took its name from one of our traditional folk dances. The second theory suits the festive nature of that cake, so personally I like it more.
Mazurek comes in many shapes - oval, round or rectangular, can have one or two layers of pastry, but its characteristic are - elaborated decoration made with dried fruits and icing called "kajmak".
This is a very sweet cake, so it comes as a little "reward" after forty days of Great Lent before Easter.

INGREDIENTS (for 2 layers 20x30cm):
  • 250g flour
  • 160g butter
  • 100g powder sugar
  • 2 yolks 

  • 500ml 3% milk
  • 250ml 18% cream
  • 2 glass sugar
  • 4tbs butter

  • 200g plum marmalade
  • dried fruits of your choice - dates, raisins, apricots
  • candied cherries
  • almonds  

It's best to start with kajmak, because it takes 2-3 hours to make - put all the ingredients in a tall pot with thick bottom and set it to cook on low heat. Stir until butter melts completely and let it simmer. The whole process of carmelizing the sugar and evaporating liquid is slow, but really worth waiting! Slowly you'll see the mixture getting thicker and changing color to golden-caramel like. You don't really have to watch it all the time, just make sure to use a pot that won't burn easily and stir it once in a while. Kajmak is ready when it reaches desired color and it's liquid but thick enough for spreading over the cake. You can test it by putting a little drop of kajmak on a plate - if it keeps its shape, it should be just right.

Using this recipe, I've made more kajmak than I needed for the cake, so I store it in the fridge. It lasts for few weeks at least and can be used as sauce with fruits, ice creams, pastries or even as an extra sweet addition to your coffee.
While kajmak is cooking, prepare the base for mazurek. Preheat your oven to 190°C (374°F).
Mix warm butter with powder sugar and yolks (if you just took out butter from a fridge, you can soften it up by putting it in a microwave for 15-30 seconds). When all the ingredients are combined, add flour and mix it in. The dough should be smooth and not stick to your fingers too much. Form it in a ball, cover with plastic foil and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to cool down. This also ensures it will be nice and crispy after baking.
Next, layer the pan with baking paper and spread the dough evenly. The easiest way is to take some of the dough, put on the pan and flatten it to desired (4-5 mm) thickness by pressing with your fingers. Then take another portion of the dough and repeat, until it covers whole pan.

Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden-brown and dry inside, take it out to cool down and then cut in half to get two layers we need.
Place one of the parts on a tray or serving plate and spread marmalade on top of it.

Next, cover with other half of the cake, press it gently to make sure marmalade is distributed evenly. 
Add layer of warm kajmak on top using a spoon to smooth it out.

Before kajmak cools down and thickens, decorate your mazurek with raisins, almonds, dried fruits that you like. Usually for Easter we create floral ornaments - branches with leaves made of almonds, flowers created by cutting apricots or dates, anything that gives an impression of spring, joy and life.
Let mazurek settle for few hours in a cool place and enjoy the Polish sweet treat!

Bon appetit!

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