Thursday, 16 August 2012

polish poppy seed and caramel cheesecake (Sernik kajmakowo-makowy)

As a school child I would go round to my Polish gran's house most days after school and the taste and smell memories of the food she used to cook for us will always stay with me. One of my absolute favourite Polish specialities is sernik, or cheesecake, especially when it contains poppy seeds (mak).

Below is my version of a recipe I found on the Polish language food blog, White Plate. If you live in London or any other area with a large Polish community you shouldn't have any difficulty finding the ingredients. If you can't find the cheese I used, ricotta would be a good substitute or you could try a full fat cottage cheese drained of the liquid. 


Ingredients: Makes approx 12-16 servings
100g Plain cake (e.g madeira cake)
50g biscuits (e.g Rich Tea)
30g butter

1kg Polish Curd/Cottage Cheese (I used this brand which I found in my local Tesco)
5 medium free range eggs
150g caster sugar
1 tbsp corn flour
200g poppy seeds
200g tinned caramel, dulche de leche or similar (I used the tinned Nestle Carnation Caramel)
Few drops of natural rum or vanilla flavouring.
Orange or lemon zest.

For 16 servings: 1 slice 314 calories, 16g fat.
  1. Thoroughly grease a spring form, 30cm diameter cake tin with butter and pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan assisted) or 180 regular oven.
  2. Using a food processor wizz up the cake and biscuits to fine crumbs. Melt the butter then stir into the crumb mixture until well combined
  3. Press the crumb mixture into the base of the tin with a spoon or spatula.
  4. In a large bowl beat the cheese with the sugar for 2-3 minutes until well combined then beat the eggs in one at a time. Use a spatula to bring down the mixture from the sides.
  5. Next beat in your chosen flavouring, the lemon or orange zest and the corn flour then divide the mixture equally between two bowls. 
  6. Add the poppy seeds to one of the bowls and combine thoroughly. Pour this mix onto the biscuit base. The poppy seed mixture should be at the bottom because it is heavier than the caramel layer. 
  7. Next add the tinned caramel to the second bowl of cheese mix and combine well. Finally pour this carefully on top of the poppy seed layer in the tin.
  8. Put the cheese cake in the oven on a low shelf for around 1hr - 1hr 10 mins. The top should be a golden brown and the mixture should still have a slight wobble but be set. Once you have reached this stage turn the oven off, open the oven door slightly and allow the cheese cake to cool down completely in the oven. 
  9. Once the cheesecake is cool enough, transfer it to the fridge and leave it to chill for at least a couple of hours, ideally overnight before eating.

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