Back in the day…when I lived in a neighbourhood of towering white gums and was surrounded by original worker’s cottages (mine was a blacksmith’s and the kitchen had a quaint slope to it)….I enjoyed the company of my neighbours. Next door was 102 year old Mrs Jones and her son Tom, two doors up was a grumpy foul mouthed old lady who used to kick my dogs, a doss house was next door that was frequented by wannabe musos who’d strum their guitars late into the night fueled by joints and coopers ale. We’d have conversations across our fences munching on figs that came from an ancient old tree or stand out on the road chewing the fat as the sun slid down over the hill.
Easter_Sernik
Across the road lived Anna, a middle aged blonde lady that spoke with her polish accent in the front of her mouth. One Easter we had a gathering in my backyard.  Anna, marched across the road, as that was the only way she seemed to know how to move. In her hand she carried a cake…”Here is something for you, this is what we have for Easter in Poland”

The Sernik is also know as the Viennese Cheesecake in Poland it isn’t Austrian and has be known by this moniker for hundreds of years in Poland.

POLISH EASTER CHEESECAKE

The taste of Anna’s Sernik has never left me. We’ve both since moved on and I across a continent. However the beauty of heart made food gift…it never leaves you. I never got the recipe from her instead though have sourced one from the Examiner. It comes from Agi Graczyk, a Pole who now resides in LA as a personal chef.Polish cheesecake “sernik”

  •     2.5 lbs ricotta well drained of any residual liquid
  •     6 free range eggs, separated
  •     1/2 cup unsalted butter, soft (preferably organic)
  •     1 cup raw cane sugar
  •     1 Tbsp potato starch – try arrowroot as a substitute
  •     2 tsp baking powder
  •     1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  •     pinch of salt
  •     1/4 cup raisins soaked in 3-4 Tbsp good rum, then drained (save the rum)
Using a food processor, combine the cheese and butter into a coherent mass. Use a  kitchenaid or food mixer beat egg yolks and sugar together until light and creamy, saving 1 Tbsp of sugar for the egg whites. Add the eggs with sugar into the cheese mixture along with potato starch, vanilla extract, drained raisins and baking powder. Mix well.In a separate bowl beat the egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, adding the remaining sugar at the last minute along with a pinch of salt. Gently combine the cheese mixture with the egg whites. It should take you about 5 minutes. You do not want to mix it rapidly, as that will deflate the eggs and your cake will end up dense and flat.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grab a 9-inch round baking pan, grease its bottom and sides with a little butter and dust with a touch of flour. Pour the batter into the form and insert into your hot oven. Bake for 40 minutes and check the cake. If it’s getting too brown on top, cover it with a piece of tin foil. Bake another 10-20 minutes. Turn off the oven, crack open its doors and let the cake sit inside for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the cake and let it cool on a rack inside the form.

When cool, dust the top with powder sugar for decoration, or top with chocolate ganache as in the photo above

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Chocolate ganache

  • 3 oz dark chocolate (70% coco)
  • 2 Tbsp reserved rum
  • 3 Tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp agave nectar (or honey)

In a double boiler slowly melt the chocolate and gently combine it with all the ingredients. Make sure the water in your pot is only gently simmering (not boiling) and it does not touch the bowl you’re melting the chocolate in. When the chocolate becomes silky and smooth, let it cool for a few minutes and them carefully distribute it all over your cheesecake. Store the cake in a refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight before serving.

 

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