Milkmaid's Recipe Box

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Polish Cream Cake (AKA Karpatka)

With all the talk about this being Fat Tuesday, and the TV coverage of all the paczkis being made/sold in Pulaski (they sold 30,000 of these treats on this day in 2014), I figured I'd make my "Polish" husband something Polish, also. I figure he "qualifies" because he quite often gets mail (sometimes, even checks) with his name spelled "Jeski"!  (Here, I made what is called Polish Cream Cake-- AKA Polish Carpathian Mountain Cream Cake, or Karpatka.)  There are SO many recipes for this kind of "cake" on the Internet.  For the most part, I followed a recipe given by a cook named Ania.

This reminds me of two 9x13-inch layers 
of ECLAIRE dough filled with cream custard filling!

Advance Preparation:  Using a non-stick spray, spray bottom and sides of two of 9x13-inch pans.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to around 375-degrees.  (Some say 400-degrees, but that's a little too high for my oven.)

Ingredients and Directions for the two "cake" layers (yes, these amounts make enough for both of the 9x13-inch layers)-- this first step is like what you do to make cream puffs, or eclaire dessert, etc.:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 whole eggs
  1. First, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Heat the water and butter until boiling.  
  3. Take off heat and stir in the flour mixture.  Keep stirring until the dough leaves the edges of the pan and sort of forms a ball around your spoon (a wooden spoon works best!).  Let this cool for about 5 minutes.  
  4. Then, add the eggs (only one at a time), beating after each addition until the dough gets smooth (about 30 strokes?).  The thing to avoid is putting a raw egg into the hot water/butter/flour mixture and having the first raw egg start to 'cook' if you don't stir it in rapidly enough!
  5. Patiently, spread 1/2 of this dough mixture into each of the prepared pans.  It takes a little "doing" because the sprayed pan surface is "slippery".  (While this is baking, go ahead and make the custard filling, because that, too, will have to cool down to room temperature before adding to the baked and cooled crust.)
  6. Bake for about 25 minutes-- the top of this will end up being all "bubbly/humpy" and that is how it is supposed to look.  (You don't have to press the "humps" down.)
  7. Remove from oven, and cool in pans until it is for sure at room temperature.  (We're having sub-zero temperatures right now, so I cooled these pans out on the enclosed and unheated porch.)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 ADDITIONAL cup of milk
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons cornstarch combined WITH 4 tablespoons flour.
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened. (This butter will be mixed in only AFTER the custard sauce has been made and cooled a bit.  See below.)
  1. Whisk together only 1 cup of the milk, the 5 egg yolks, vanilla, corn starch and flour...and salt.  Set aside.
  2. Pour first 3 cups of milk into saucepan and, while stirring and watching carefully, heat until little bubbles start to form around the edges.  
  3. Add the 1 cup of sugar to the hot milk.  Return to heat and stir just until sugar is dissolved (you'll be able to tell this when your stirring spoon doesn't "feel" any grains at the bottom). Remove from heat.
  4. VERY SLOWLY, add the combined egg yolk/milk/corn starch/flour/vanilla mixture--  whisking rapidly all the while.  (We do NOT want any of the egg mixture to "start cooking", nor do we want the sauce to end up being lumpy*.) 
  5. Stirring constantly, and scraping the bottom of your pan, cook this totally combined mixture over med. heat until it cooks enough to become thick and smooth. 
  6. With waxed paper, cover the surface of this custard sauce so that it doesn't form a "skin" while it is cooling down to at least room temperature.  I used my very cold (sub-zero) porch to get this done in a hurry. 
  7. When the custard is cooled to "room temperature", it is time to combine it with the last ingredient-- the 1 cup of softened butter.  BUT,... first of all, beat the butter alone until it is fluffed up and very smooth.  Now,...
  8. Add the cooled custard to the butter in the mixer, only one heaping tablespoon at a time and beating for a little while after each addition.  After all the custard has been incorporated, mix for about another 30 seconds.   DONE!
  1. If you want to leave the "cake" in the pans to transport, or serve from, remove one of the layers of baked "crust" from its pan and set it off to the side.  
  2. In that now empty pan, insert a sheet of parchment paper and leave "lifter" tabs above the edges.  
  3. Put the removed layer back into that paper-lined pan.  
  4. Spread all of the custard over the "bumpy" top of it.  
  5. Now, carefully remove the other "cake" layer and from its pan and put it on top of this first layer ("bumpy" side up) that you have topped with the custard.  Done.  Now, it's just time to ... wait.  
  6. Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours to allow the custard to firm up just a bit.  
  7. Then,...just before serving, dust with confectioners (powdered) sugar.  The addition of the powdered sugar is intended to make it look like the snow-covered Carpathian Mountain tops in Romania.  
  8. Using the "lifter tabs" of the parchment paper, you could now lift the VERY cooled "cake" from its pan and move it to your serving dish/tray. 
How I did it for mine:
Instead of putting the parchment paper down and assembling everything in the pan, I just lifted the first "cake layer" out and put it on my serving plate right away-- spooned the custard on it, and then put the second layer on top of that (the puffed up edges of the baked layers kept the custard in place even without being in a pan).  Since each step was followed and all was cooled as it was supposed to be, this worked great for me.  

*If your custard sauce should happen to get "lumpy", I've read of cooks running the warm sauce through a screen-type strainer to de-lump it;  others have put the hot/warm mixture in a heat-proof kind of blender and let it run for a very short while.


Just for my own memory, these are the facebook postings about this dessert:

"With all the talk about this being Fat Tuesday, and the TV coverage of all the paczkis being made/sold in Pulaski, I figured I'd make my "Polish" husband something Polish, also. I figure he "qualifies" because he quite often gets mail spelled "Jeski"! (I made what is called Polish Cream Cake-- AKA Polish Carpathian Mountain Cream Cake, or Karpatka.)"
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