I saw sękacz for the first time tonight; this many layered cake, resembling a tree or crazy big mushroom, is both dessert and an impressive centerpiece. We stopped by a new pub (more on Piwna Stopa in another post) this evening, and found out it was the owner’s birthday. He was having a BBQ on the back patio with family and friends and insisted that we join them. I can tell you this man is in the right business, he has the gift of hospitality.
We joined them in a toast to the birthday boy, with some homemade cherry liqueur for the ladies and vodka for the men — too bad guys! 😉 Our host promptly fixed plates of food for us, even though we had just come from dinner, so I’m really glad that we logged over 26 miles on our bikes today and that we skipped dessert at the restaurant.
The sękacz was on the serving table. As you can see from the photo, it’s very tall, at least two feet with so many finger-like branches sprouting from the trunk. From across the patio, I wasn’t sure what it was, bread? a giant smoked cheese from the mountains? So I had to ask. It was the birthday cake, a traditional cake from the Eastern part of Poland dating back to the Middle Ages. Sixty eggs went into the batter, and as you might guess, it takes hours to make, definitely a labor of love.
You start by building a large fire. A long wooden spool is set up on a spit fireside. The cake batter is dripped over the hot spool and is built up layer after layer after layer, with the drips becoming the tree branches. The cake, when you break off a branch, as the kids had been doing, shows rings just like the growth rings you’d see on a tree.
I’m sorry to say I can’t comment on the taste. We didn’t stay long enough for the cutting of the cake, and I don’t know our host well enough to start snapping off pieces of his cake like the the kids had been doing. I’m sure it was wonderful, and I have the urge to try doing this someday.