The word mazurek can be a dance and type of music. It’s a surname and also one of the traditional Easter cakes in Poland – although it will seem more like a tart to American readers. Let’s take a look at Mazurek (Polish Easter Pastry).
Mazurek starts off with a shortbread-like crust, which may be topped with a layer or combination of layers consisting of fruit jam, dried fruit, a thick caramel, chocolate, or nuts. Like so many foods in Poland, the tarts are beautifully decorated, in patterns, a pussy willow design (a symbol of spring and used in places of palms on Palm Sunday), or with “Wesolego Alleluja” (Happy Easter) piped in meringue or chocolate ganache.
I got to sample several mazurki when we lived in Poland. This is the first year, I’m trying my hand making Mazurek (Polish Easter Pastry) for our tradition of hosting an afternoon tea party on Easter Day.
I’m making a rectangular one with a caramel topping, decorated with piped chocolate ganache, sliced almonds, and dried apricots. My second mazurek is egg shaped, topped with Nutella (actually the Jif brand of chocolate hazelnut spread because I find it less runny). The egg shape I’m decorating with pastry cutouts, white ganache piping, and Tic-Tac mints to create a pussy-willow branch.
The sweet, shortcrust dough is very dry and a little challenging to roll out. If you’re pressed for time, or want to involve children in the process, you might substitute purchased sugar cookie dough (something easy to find in the USA). Slice it, pat it into the pan, and finish according to the recipe instructions. I don’t think anyone will be any the wiser, and you’ll avoid a lot of purist pastry hassle.
Mazurek makes a beautiful centerpiece for your Easter table, and when it’s time to slice into it, you’ll have a delicious dessert!
A decorated tart for Easter
- 2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup butter (150g) butter
- 7 tablespoons (80g) sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 – 2 tablespoons milk
- heaping 1/2 cup (150g) jam, preferably sour, such as plum, marmalade, or black currant
- 1 can Dulce de leche (400 or 500g), or can sweet condensed milk
- almonds, chocolate, dried apricots for decoration
- If using a can of sweet condensed milk, it should be cooked in a pot of water on a low heat for 3 hours. (The can MUST be covered by water the entire time), this will caramelize the sweetened condensed milk
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C)
- Combine the flour, butter, and sugar until uniform
- Add in the egg and milk, work the dough until it comes together; it will be crumbly, I used a food processor
- Form into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap
- Refrigerate for at least one hour
- Roll out the dough, directly on parchment paper to a rectangle, slightly larger than a 9 x 13 inch pan (my Polish pottery dish was 10.5 x 12.5 inches or 26 x 32 cm)
- Trim the dough to the size of your pan
- Place the dough, on the parchment, into the pan
- If you’re making a free form shape, such as an egg, roll out the dough on the parchment, use two round shapes, one larger than the other to get the rounded top and bottom of your egg, trim using straight lines between the two arcs to create your egg shape, move dough on the parchment to a baking sheet
- Roll the dough you’ve trimmed off into long ropes, use these to create a edge around your pastry, dams to hold in the filling, cut out a rabbit or chick for decoration, small items will brown more quickly
- Spread jam on the dough
- Bake in a preheated oven until golden brown, approx. 25 min, cool
- Spread with dulce de leche or caramelized sweetened condensed milk and decorate as desired
Now that you know what a typical Polish mazurek is like, in my next post, I’ll tell you about a another variation on this pastry.