As easy as pie? I don’t think so. You gotta blind bake the base, wait for it to cool, assemble the fillings and, as Jamie Oliver would say, “whack it in the oven” for a second time. Ciasto drożdżowe doesn’t roll off the tongue, but as Nigella Lawson would say, it’s “a doddle”. It should be “as easy as ciasto drożdżowe“. A tough one to say smoothly but this bread-like cake is as easy as …well, not pie.
Ciasto D (it’s also hell to spell) is like the Polish version of the French brioche but baked in loaf tin and can be a lot sweeter. The store-bought ones tend to be crusted with kruszonka (crumbles made from shortcrust pastry). Baking your own means you can be sure it’s made from pure butter. And the scent will have everyone thinking you’re a star baker.
The traditional recipe calls for fresh yeast which is very easy to obtain in Poland. If you’re a free-style baker, then this is your baby. It also suits the Polish “na oko” (by the eye) approach – which translates to whatever quantities look right based on the eye’s judgement. In the Dobra Kuchnia (Good Cuisine) book published in the 1980’s for the then modern PRL housekeeper, the recipe says, for 1 kg of flour, you can use anything from 150-300g butter, 50-100g yeast and 6 to 12 egg yolks. Baking doesn’t get any more free-style than this. I like the bitter yeasty taste so I’m heavy-handed with it.
The following recipe is given by a good friend. Works every time. You can wolf down half-a-loaf in a go but my guess is, it’s still less damaging to the waistline than all the sugary mazurek lying around during Easter.
Dough starter: Gently warm up 250ml milk and 1 tsp sugar. Remove from heat, add 50g yeast, 1 tbsp flour. Allow to rest till the mixture froths and bubbles.
Mix 500g flour, 4 egg yolks (sometimes I forget the yolks but it still works), ½ glass sugar (you know you’ve been in PL long enough when you start measuring ingredients using a glass), a pinch of salt. Add in the starter. Melt 150g butter, add to flour mixture when cool. Throw in raisins or dried fruits (optional). Knead. Cover for 20 mins. Grease a loaf tin (and coat with coconut shavings – optional). Transfer the dough into the loaf tin. Let it rise for about 2 hours. Whack it in the oven (200C) for about 30 mins. It’s a doddle.