Nov 20, 2009


Making proper karpatka has become a bit of an obsession of mine, since I first had a slice sold by an Eastern European lady at the Irene Deli Market, one Saturday a few years ago. The problem with making karpatka, I would soon find out, is the utter lack of reliable recipes found online. When I first started experimenting most of the recipes were in Polish, which left me at the mercy of Google Translate to make sense of them, and which leaves one with delightful instructions such as "use a glass of butter".

Eventually jvdh tracked down a friend with a Polish grandmother, and we swindled a recipe from her. It was a bit of a disaster, with the dough not rising at all - no Carpathian mountains in sight.

The next attempt, from a recipe posted by a Polish blogger who understood a bit of English, fared better. But the creamy filling still eluded me. Last year I had two botched fillings (one which eventually cost me a pot, which I couldn't get clean after the sugary filling started burning), and for my Eastern European dinner party a few months ago I tried a new recipe for the filling, which, even after I'd added some soft whipped cream, still came out tasting like cornflour. For my father's birthday I again made a few changes, most notably filling the karpatka with crème pattiserie. It's not exactly what I want yet, but at this point it's damn good anyway.

Adapted from

125 g butter
250 ml water
125 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 eggs

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a baking dish of approximately 40 cm x 30 cm with tin foil. Butter the tin foil.

Add butter to water, bring to the boil. Add flour and baking powder, stirring to make paste come together. Leave on stove top for another two minutes or so; take care that paste does not burn. Take off the heat, and add the eggs one egg at a time, mixing them in. Spread paste out across the baking pan - it'll be very thin. Try to not have any gaps. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until the dough has puffed up and is cooked through.

Adapted from

300ml full-cream milk
100g vanilla sugar
3 large egg yolks
20g cake flour
20g corn flour
10ml rum
250 ml whipped cream

Mix vanilla sugar and egg yolks together. Add the sifted cake flour and corn flour to form a smooth paste. Heat milk till it reaches boiling point, and then add to the paste - beat in quickly to prevent curdling. Place in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking for a minute or three, until the mixture is thick and glossy. Take off the heat, add rum, whisking again. Leave to cool completely. Then, whip cream, and fold into the crème pattiserie. Refrigerate for a few hours.

To assemble the karpatka, slice the cake in half, spreading the crème pattiserie on the one half and topping it with the other. Sift some icing sugar over the top.


Marie said...

Hmmm. Very interesting. Never heard of it! There is a strong Polish presence here, so if I track down a recipe I'll forward. Yours looks gorgeous..

Marisa said...

I have to agree with Marie here - never heard of this, but sure sounds interesting. It looks like a very mild tasting, homey style pudding - just what the doctor ordered for those days when I'm feeling sorry for myself!

arcadia said...

marie: as jy ooit 'n resep raakloop, laat asb weet. ek is taamlik gelukkig met die koek-deel, maar die perfekte vulsel het ek nog nie gevind nie. en die poolse vrou by wie ek dit die eerste keer geeet het, wil net mooi _niks_ se oor haar resep nie. sug.

marisa: it really is lovely. and nothing beats cake for those type of days.

foodiechickie said...

I had this cake recently and I totally can understand your obsession. But the cake I had was very very moist. I wish I could find this recipe. Been looking.

Monika said...

Thank you! I read this and it made me smile. I am Polish and I do make Karpatka for my English friends and I know how obsessed they are in trying to get the recipe. I tend to make it with them as learning by observation is (in my narrow minded) opinion the best way to remember.
Good luck in trying to find the best solution for you!

paula said...

I'm polish and speak it as well add the butter to the cake mix after the paste has chilled.

I'm not good with creams but i just mix instant pudding with budding which you can buy in a polish store i get the smietankowy one which is the buttery flavor and it comes out setting hard and perfect even better than the originals.

Ingrid VM said...

I am going to try it, I am sure I bought the cake made by the same lady of the Irene market, but I used to buy it in Sunnyside's Fleamarket. I did not know the name until I bought th4e same cake at the Hazelwood foodmarket last week and the searched for recipes on the internet. Die vulsel lyk net anders as op jou fotos.

Anonymous said...

I always have a problem with the cream (it is never thick enough)... Can anyone help me pleasse ? I am always making this for my Polish Boyfriend