A light poppy seed sponge cake with juicy fresh plums and a review of ‘Wild Honey & Rye’ by Ren Behan.
How much do you know about Polish food? Probably not a huge amount; it seems to be somewhat of a ‘lesser known’ cuisine and beyond pierogi I have very little knowledge of what Polish food actually involves. Ren Behan aims to change that with her new cookbook, ‘Wild Honey & Rye’, which was released today.
Ren is a food writer and fellow food blogger (blog here) of Polish descent who aims to change perceptions about the cuisine with her cookbook, which focuses on modern Polish recipes and lighter, healthier versions of classics.
The beautifully photographed book is divided into seven chapters which I have listed below, along with some of the recipes that I have earmarked to make from each section to give you an idea of what kinds of recipes you can expect to find there.
Sweet and Savoury Breakfasts: honey and rye loaf, home-infused honey, millet porridge with almond milk, Polish plum butter.
Seasonal and Raw Salads: cucumber, soured cream and dill salad, new potato salad with poppy seeds and chives, buckwheat and beetroot salad with feta, walnuts and honey, homemade fermented dill pickles.
Seasonal Soups and Market-Inspired Sides: forest mushroom soup, sour cucumber soup, apple mashed potatoes, carrots with honey and star anise.
Light Bites and Street Food: pastry rolls with sauerkraut and mushrooms, potato blinis with smoked salmon and soured cream, forest mushrooms with thyme cream on sourdough.
Food For Family and Friends: millet ‘kaszotto’ with wild mushrooms, potato pancakes with mushroom sauce, cabbage parcels with barley and mushroom sauce, pierogi with cheese and potatoes.
High Tea: Sweet Treats and Cakes: pierogi with strawberries, honey and pistachios, Polish apple cake, cherry crumble cake, plum and poppy seed traybake (recipe below!), mini lemon babkas, toffee and cherry cheesecake, Polish spiced Christmas cookies.
Fruit Liqueurs and Flavoured Vodkas: blackberry vodka, spiced honey vodka, Polish plum martini.
As you can see there is a wide range of delicious looking recipes to try, and there is plenty for vegetarians as well as meat eaters. The sweets in particular caught my eye (of course!) and I opted to make the plum and poppy seed traybake.
It is a simple cake, easy to make, but absolutely delicious. A light poppy seed sponge is filled with juicy fresh plums and topped with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. I made a couple of very minor changes to Ren’s recipe, not because I think it needed them, but because I didn’t have any vegetable oil left that hadn’t been used for frying doughnuts so used olive oil instead, and I upped the quantity of orange zest to that of a whole orange rather than just a teaspoon.
The resulting cake is delicious eaten in large slices with a cup of tea, but is also amazing served warm with custard or ice cream for pudding.
Plum And Poppy Seed Traybake
- 225 g (generous 1 cup) caster sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 240 ml (1 cup) light vegetable or olive oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
- finely grated zest of 1 orange or lemon
- 250 g (2 cups) self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 3 Tbsp poppy seeds
- 8-10 ripe plums halved and stones removed
- 2 Tbsp icing (powdered) sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 30x23cm/12x9in baking tray.
Place the sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk with an electric mixer for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the zest and mix again.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and gently fold it in using a metal spoon until it is fully combined. Add the poppy seeds and mix again.
Pour the batter into the lined tray and spread it level. Arrange the plum halves on top, cut side down. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, until the cake is firm and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tin. Before serving, mix together the icing sugar and cinnamon and sift it over the cake.
Wild Honey & Rye can be purchased here, and also in major bookshops.
You can read more about Ren’s journey to publishing her debut cookbook here, and if you would like to see some more recipes and reviews of the book then some of my fellow food bloggers have also written posts:
I was sent a copy of the book to review but was not paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.