The Fresh Loaf

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Piernik - Polish Honey Cakes

dstroy's picture

Piernik - Polish Honey Cakes

 I made a traditional Polish Piernik (Honey Cake) for the holidays this year and it came out as nice as I remembered them being from childhood. The whole house smelled like Christmas when I was baking too - so many fond memories!  

I used my grandmother's recipe - here is a photo of my grandma Irena's instructions written over 30 years ago:
It says:
Mix 15 dkg (150g) of butter or margarine with 35 dkg (350g) of heated honey (it should be liquid, not boiling, but warmer than room temperature).
While mixing, add 6 egg yolks and 40 dkg (400g) of sugar.
Then add 2 tsp or 2 tablespoons (depending on how spicy you like it) of ground pumpkin pie spices
         (I didn't have officially labeled "pumpkin pie spices
         so I added about 1 Tablespoon of a mix of ground
         ginger, cloves, and cinnamon).
Pour in 1 cup (250 ml) of dark beer.
Then add 3/4 kg (750g) of flour mixed with 15 g of baking soda.
Add dried fruits and nuts (as much as you like and what you like- my mom would usually add 2 cups of predominantly raisins and candied orange peel but this year I opted for straight honey-cakes so I skipped the fruit). The traditional fruits and nuts include: raisins, walnuts, almonds, candied orange peel, dried apricots, figs, dates and so forth)
At the end add stiff foam from 6 egg whites. Mix carefully- so the batter is "light and airy".
Divide into several bread-baking pans, greased with butter (about 3 standard loaf pans, or you can make the miniature loaves and they make super gifts) and bake about 1 hour at 350 deg F
You can keep piernik at room temperature for weeks! Some claim it gets better with time. In old time traditional Poland they used to bake piernik when a girl was born, then bury it underground to preserve it and eat it at her wedding. These days it is a traditional Christmas time treat. 
In my opinion it is better to go easy on fruits and nuts. In Poland people think - the more of fruits and nuts, the better is the piernik, but I just love the taste of the honey cakes and it's especially tasty with some cream cheese for a snack.


Kollin's picture

Thank you looks delicious! 

Mebake's picture

It looks so delicious, Dorota! 

So, it can survive burial for 16-20 years?! 

Thanks for sharing this old recipe with us.


dstroy's picture

I suppose if it were wrapped well Mebake - though I suspect there's some source of such tales spawning stories about "dwarf bread" that could break teeth too. ;)

We just finished off the last of the cakes this morning and it was starting to dry out a bit - but I suspect it would last much longer had it been wrapped in foil or something rather than just sitting on the counter as it had for the past 4 or 5 days.

dabrownman's picture

all those fruits and nuts would make it a fruit cake with honey.... and so much harder to slice too!  .Great childhood recipes from grandma are hard to beat.   The honey cakes  look terrific.

isand66's picture

Beautiful!  Thanks so much for sharing this family treasure.