Monday, March 18, 2013

Easter Fragrances

Wesolego Aleluja! (Happy Easter)!

A traditional Polish Easter celebration is very fragrant.  Beautiful pink and purple hyacinths are partnered with stately Easter lilies and their spring perfumes reach every room.  The dining room table, hidden beneath grandmother’s delicate, snow white lace and linen tablecloth showcases a traditional butter lamb, and is heavy with all the heritage Easter dishes which we enjoy decade after decade, generation after generation.  The scents of chocolate, vanilla, yeast, almonds, rum, candied fruit, reach every corner of the room.  We take great comfort in this traditional setting which changes so little over the years.

Our menu has been pared down over time.  We just can’t eat as much, nor do we want to.  But the core dishes are always there:  classic clear Beet Soup (Barszcz, pg 29 in Polish Classic Recipes), Vegetable Salad (pg 22), spiral ham slices, two or three varieties of the best kielbasa

we can find at our favorite Polish deli, the classic garnish called Cwikla – which is chopped beets with horseradish (pg 49), Polish dill pickles and occasionally deviled eggs. 

Except for the Barszcz, which is sipped hot from fine china tea cups, the rest of the meal is served at room temperature.  For dessert, we often have a light, fluffy and citrusy cheese cake (see pg 61 of Polish Classic Desserts), a beautifully decorated mazurka (as on pg 13) and maybe a yeasty tall Baba.  A very nice rum Baba recipe follows.

These are many of our favorite flavors.  These are many of our favorite foods.  And even though we may prepare them during the year separately, when placed together on the same table once a year at Easter, it becomes magical and incredibly fragrant.

Rum Baba For Easter
Serves 10 to 12

½ cup butter, or margarine, melted
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons milk
Grated rind of one orange

1 cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup light rum

Batter:  place all ingredients in a bowl, beat for 5 minutes with a mixer at medium speed.  Pour into a well buttered 8-inch fluted ring pan and bake at 350 °F for 45 minutes.  Check to see if done by inserting a toothpick into the middle – cake is done if toothpick comes out dry.

Syrup:  mix the sugar to water in a heavy pot cook over medium heat until it  turns into a heavy syrup.  Mix in the orange juice and rum.

Remove the warm cake from the pan onto a serving platter and immediately pour the syrup slowly over the top, letting it run down the sides.   Cool completely before slicing.

No comments:

Post a Comment