a disclaimer: i am not posting a recipe for this so Zuza can bake the cake herself. baking with fresh yeast is not for everyone, as there isn’t any other more unpredictable and moody ingredient than yeast. plus, i enjoy baking for friends.
as Zuza lives about 40min away from where I live, we try to take turns in visiting each other. so you know, it’s fair (especially that we both don’t drive). once, i made this yeast-leavened cake, filled with sweet cottage cheese and candied citrus peel. she loved it, to my great surprise, as the cake is far from sophisticated. its delicate, fluffy consistency contrasted with grainy and milky curd cheese somehow works though, giving the eater a feeling of homeliness and comfort. maybe it’s merely the fact that i grew up in Poland, that for me the smell of freshly baked yeast loaf or cake, is the quintessence of home. perhaps it’s arbitrary, and for someone who grew up elsewhere the smell of home would be something completely different.
nonetheless, this braided, fluffy, sweet loaf-like cake has been a success every time i made it, and so i decided to share it with all the yeast bakes lovers out there. i am not gonna lie: this cake is quite labour-intensive, as it requires kneading the dough for about 10 minutes; it will put your patience on trial, as there are extended waiting times throughout the process of cake making; and it might force you out of your comfort zone, at least for those living in the UK: as far as i know, fresh yeast is not sold in the supermarkets here. the only places i could find it being sold, were Polish shops. oh well, sometimes it’s good to discover the unknown territory.
ZUZA’S FAVOURITE SWEET COTTAGE CHEESE AND CANDIED PEEL CAKE
for the cake
540g wheat flour
80g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
20g fresh yeast (or 10g dry yeast)
75g butter, melted
for the cheese filling
500g curd cheese
1tsp vanilla extract
90g candied peel, chopped
for the icing
juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
4-5 heaped tablespoons icing sugar
1 egg, beaten
How to make?
1. Make a yeast starter. Crumble the fresh yeast in a small bowl, add 1tbsp of sugar, 1/4 cup of lukewarm milk (not too hot!), and stir until the yeast dissolves. Add 3tbsp of flour, stir again and set aside, preferably somewhere warm, for about 15-20 minutes or until the mixture doubles in size. If you are using dried yeast, simply mix it with flour before proceeding to making a cake.
2. Mix flour with doubled in size yeast mix, caster sugar, salt, lukewarm milk, and eggs. Work the mixture with your hand, and when loosely joined, add melted butter. Knead the dough with your hands, in a bowl or on the pastry board, for about 10-15 minutes or until it stops sticking to your hand. The well-kneaded dough should be elastic, but still soft.
3. Place the dough into a bowl sprinkled with flour (to prevent the rising dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl), cover with a kitchen towel and set aside, somewhere warm, for 1,5-2h to prove. The dough should double in size during this time.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the cheese filling. Chop the candied peel, until the pieces are rather small. Add the curd cheese and mascarpone to a bowl, and mix it with chopped candied peel, vanilla extract, sugar and egg. Mix everything with your electric mixer, until you get a smooth mixture. If the cheese filling is too runny, you can add 1-2tsp potato starch.
5. Prepare two loaf tins. Grease them with butter and sprinkle with some flour. Set aside.
6. When the dough has doubled in size, transfer it to a floured pastry board and punch once or twice. Divide the dough into two parts. Roll out each part into a rectangle, approximately 30x20cm big. Spread half of the cheese filling on each of the rectangles and roll into a shape of Swiss roll.
7. Flatten your rolled cake a bit and make three cuts lengthwise, but without cutting one of the ends through (one of the ends should hold the rolled cake together). Now, make a braid with the three parts of the cake. Once braided, move the cake into a baking tin and set aside for 40 minutes to proof again. Repeat with the second part of the dough.
9. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
9. I had some leftover dough and filling, and I used it to create some mini versions of cakes. Always better to get creative, than waste!
10. When the cakes have risen, brush them with an egg beaten with milk. Place in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes.
11. While the cakes are still baking but almost ready, make the icing. Add lemon juice and icing sugar to a bowl or a big mug and beat them quickly with your electric mixer until smooth. If the icing is not thick enough, add some more icing sugar.
12. Decorate the cakes with icing when they are still warm. All done! Enjoy!