These beautiful little Serniki Migdałowe Polish Almond Cheesecakes popped up on Facebook recently. They’re mini-cheesecakes, individual servings that resemble a head of cabbage or a flower bud.
Their architectural look is so appealing, as is the taste! A step-by-step video from Smaczny.tv made them seem like something very doable, so long as you can read the ingredients in Polish.
I think I’ve managed to do just that. (Click on Serniki Migdalowe above to hear the pronunciation. It was requested that I let readers know how to pronounce Polish words, and I was terrible at phonics in 3rd grade, so rather than writing it phonetically, you get an audio recording. It will be a good chuckle for the native Polish speakers in the crowd!)
Two things became very apparent to me as I began assembling this dessert:
The folks are Smadzny.tv are professionals. Everything they’ve done is perfect! The circle of dough is a perfect circle, the filling texture is ideal. The good news is that mine are not perfect and the end product is still very attractive and delicious.
The second thing that crossed my mind was that sometimes, Polish cooks and American cooks go about things very differently to wind up at the same place — the yeast dough in this case.
I often use a dry yeast packet as this recipes uses. I would normally dissolve the yeast in warm (110 F) liquid (in this case the milk and melted butter) and a little bit of the sugar to be sure the yeast is active.
I’ve written this recipe as closely as I can to the video. The yeast is one of the last things to go into the dough. It goes in after the flour and before the melted butter. Adding the butter at the end was unusual for me too. It took a lot of kneading to incorporate the butter, but it did have the added benefit of greasing the bowl in which the dough was to rise. Something that’s usually an extract step.
I’m so intrigued by these little sernik bundles that I will make them again. Maybe a little almond extract next time?
Maybe try parbaking and freezing them. You see, in 2019, I’m planning to cook a large meal at the church where I work as a fundraiser for an after-school program the church operates. It will be dinner for 60 – 100.
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Tickets will be pricey, this is a fundraiser after all. So the meal needs to be interesting and special. I’d like to do a Polish menu, but I worry that Polish food isn’t that well-known in this part of the country and not everyone is as adventurous, who am I kidding?
Most people are not as adventurous as Ed and me when it comes to food. I think these serniki might be safe enough and special enough to qualify if I can find a reasonable way to make 100 of them along with several other courses. I’ll keep you posted –Serniki Migdałowe Polish Almond Cheesecakes for the masses.
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Beautiful individual little almond cheesecakes wrapped in leaves of a sweet yeast dough
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup milk
- 4 cups flour
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 packet dry yeast
- 7 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 1/4 cups Twarog, farmers cheese
- zest of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup finely ground almonds (almond meal)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 egg beaten for egg wash
- thinly sliced almonds for garnish
- powdered sugar for garnish
- Add 3 egg yolks and salt to a bowl, whisk to combine
- Stir in 1/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Add milk
- Stir in flour, lemon zest, and yeast
- Add melted butter and knead until uniformly incorporated
- Cover, let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes
- Preheat oven to 375 F
- Combine twarog, orange zest, and ground almonds
- Stir in sugar and vanilla
- Add 1 egg yolk
- Divide dough into 12 equal portions
- Roll each piece into a circle approximately 6 inches wide
- Take 1/12 of the filling (approximately 2 tablespoons), shape it into a ball and place in the center of the dough circle
- Make four cuts in the dough from the edge, almost up to the filling, at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00.
- Dip your fingertip in water and lightly moisten the outside edge of the dough
- Fold one petal up on the filling, securing the edges at the bottom of the dough
- Repeat with the three remaining petals, the filling will just peek out of the center
- Use your hands to round out the bottom of the bundles
- Place on a parchment line baking sheet
- Brush with beaten egg
- Press a few almond slices into the sides of the dough petals
- Bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown
- Cool, dust with powdered sugar
My health food/farmers market style store had tubs of farmers cheese, but I opted for ricotta because it was cheaper and closer to the quantity I needed. I figured once I added all the other things, any difference would not be noticeable. But the texture of the mixture was a little runny, so I popped it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up and make it easier to form a golf ball shape for the filling.
I warmed a bit of lingenberry jam, put a spoonful on the serving plate and gave it a smear to add a bit of color to this yummy but beige dessert.