Grandma Felicia’s Polish Cake

September8

I am writing this as part of the Canadian Food Experience Project which began June 7 2013.  As we the participants, share our collective stories across the vastness of our Canadian landscape through our regional food experiences, we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity through the cadence of our concerted Canadian voice.

My Dad was a first generation Canadian.  He was born in Poland and raised in what is now called the Czech Republic.  He arrived in southern Saskatchewan (approximately 75 miles south of Moose Jaw) with his Mom Felicia and his little brother.  His Dad had settled a couple of years before, undoubtedly because of having seen the notice below:

Every person who is the sole head of a family and every male who has attained the age of 18 years and is a British subject or declares his intention of becoming and British subject, is entitled to apply for entry to a homestead. A quarter-section may be obtained as a homestead on payment of an entry fee of $10 and fulfillment of certain conditions of residence and cultivation. To qualify for the issuing of the patent, the settler must have resided upon his homestead for at least six months of each of three years, must have erected a habitable house thereon, and must have at least 30 acres of his holding broken, of which 20 acres must be cropped. A reduction may be made in the area of breaking where the land is difficult to cultivate on account of scrub or stone.

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They settled in the community known as Limerick.  My Grandma cleaned the homes of other families while Grandpa continued to work their land and build their little farmhouse.  At the same time, my Dad and Uncle attended a one room school house where the most difficult task was learning to speak English.  When the Second World War was declared, the brothers enlisted in the air-force, eager to defend their new country.  My Dad survived the crash of his aircraft in Europe.  My Uncle never did make it overseas, haven been killed when his training plane crashed into a hill not far from Moose Jaw.

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Her stove looked a great deal like this but is less ornate.

As time went on, my Grandma moved into a house in “town” where she grew geraniums on every window sill and white lace curtains floated in the breeze.  She had a big old stove that took up most of her kitchen.  It would be filled with coal in the morning and then sticks of wood would be added as the day went by.  The beautiful appliance included a cistern where water could be heated and held.  A pot of soup or stew could be placed on top and brought to a rapid bowl and then moved to a cooler area of the cook-top to simmer the morning away.  I can distinctly remember the amazing tastes of Grandma’s potato soup, prune dumplings served with melted butter and cinnamon sugar and freshly killed chickens fried in boiling lard- producing the crispest and juiciest chicken I have ever tasted.

Baking was more problematic as the oven had one temperature and could not be adjusted or moderated.  But she stilled managed to produce the most delectable bread, buns, apple pie, poppy seed roll, thimble cookies and this, her prized cake that we simply callPoli sh Cake.  When Sister #3 was researching the origin of the recipe for a cookbook that she is writing, she found that similar cakes had Jewish origins, so she has surmised that Grandma must have obtained the recipe from a Jewish neighbour in Poland.

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Acquiring this recipe was a task in itself as Grandma did not write any of her recipes down.  My sister-in-law observed Grandma making this cake on one visit and took notes while trying to get Grandma to be as specific as possible.  Years later, Sister #3 took those notes and started recipe writing and testing.  Here are the results:

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Grandma Felicia's Polish Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Eastern Europe
 
Ingredients
  • Filling
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ⅓ cup cream of wheat
  • 6 tbsp Icing sugar
  • ½ cup soft butter or margarine
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1 tsp rum extract
  • Raspberry jam
  • Cake
  • ¼ cup soft butter or margarine
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of soft honey
  • 1 medium sized egg
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • Sift 2½ cups flour
Instructions
  1. Method
  2. Boil milk then add cream of wheat stir 3 – 4 minutes being sure not to burn it.
  3. Cover and set aside to cool.
  4. Line 2 round pans 8 or 9” cake pans with parchment paper cut into rounds to cover the bottom.
  5. Mix cake ingredients together until dough is smooth but sticky.
  6. Flour a surface and rolling pin and roll cake out a bit maintaining round shape.
  7. Bake in 350ºF oven for 15 minutes or until light brown.
  8. Beat cream of wheat, sugar and butter until creamy.
  9. Add egg and rum extract and beat until stiff.
  10. Cut each cake into three layers.
  11. Take first layer of cake and top with ⅙th of the cream of wheat mixture.
  12. Add a thin layer (2 tbsp) of Jam. (I melt the jam in the microwave to make it easier to spread).
  13. Take the second cake place it on top of the jam mixture.
  14. Repeat with cream of wheat mixture and jam till all layers are added.
  15. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.
  16. Taste best if made a day ahead.

My Grandma Felicia lived in her sparkling little house until she was in her 90s.  She picked peas in her garden a few days before she passed away.

Kath’s quote: “Throughout history, the Poles have defended Europe. They would fight, and – between battles – they would eat and drink.”-E. de Pomiand

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Love-that is all.

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posted under Desserts
5 Comments to

“Grandma Felicia’s Polish Cake”

  1. Avatar September 15th, 2013 at 10:31 am The Canadian Food Experience Project: Round Up Four Says:

    […] at Food Musings from Winnipeg, Manitoba is a descendent of ” a little Polish lady named Felicia who […]


  2. Avatar September 15th, 2013 at 4:22 pm Colleen @ The Food Blog Says:

    This looks delicious! If you make it a day ahead, do you leave it in the fridge or at room temperature? Thank you for sharing.


  3. Avatar September 16th, 2013 at 7:47 am Kathryne Says:

    Colleen, Everything was left at room temperature in those days because refrigerators were not the same size as they are today. I remember that my Grandma had a special place where these special treats were left. It was a little pantry under the stairs to the attic. It was a wee bit cooler there then the rest of the kitchen. My siblings and cousins knew that we had to be very, very good for that pantry door to be opened up for us.


  4. Avatar September 28th, 2013 at 3:05 pm A Canadian Foodie Says:

    Sounds like we grew up in the same era, but my grandma was born in the US – her family came through plymouth rock in 1729 – the wood burning oven, the gardening, the stamina for really hard work into her 90’s. LOVED her to death. Maude. She even had a cold space on the stairs leading to the attic, too.
    So enjoyed reading the memories, this post and have copied the recipe. It sounds not so sweet, but really delicious.
    :)V


  5. Avatar October 1st, 2013 at 2:49 pm Redawna Says:

    What a fantastic post Kathryne! Loved your telling of how your grandparents came to Canada. And what a labour of love to recreate this recipe.


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