For Easter this year Bryan and I packed up the dog and headed to his parents. Since we didn’t get a chance to see his extended family over Christmas we invited them over for an “Easter Eve” dinner. Laid back, dish to pace, some drinks, good times. When we were in the planning phase Bryan said that it would be nice if his grandma was still capable of making her placek (basically a traditional yeasty coffee cake) but once you get up there in years, spending the whole day in the kitchen can be a titch much. He said how difficult and time-consuming it was but it was oh so tasty. Always up for the challenge, I had him dig out his family recipe for me to check out. The only difficulty that I saw in it was it called for a small yeast cake, which Wegmans doesn’t sell. After some Googling and guess work I decided two yeast packets/5 tsp of active dry yeast was the way to go. We had Good Friday off of work and decided that we would use the day to make placek and kolacky cookies. So “early” Friday morning I got up and started making the placek. The first part took about 30-40 min to make (the yeast needed to do its thing). Next it was popped in the fridge for 6 hours of rise time. I had never heard of a cold rise before since yeast loves warmth. The internet claims it’s to give the dough more of a yeast-y flavor. 6-ish hours later Bryan punched down the dough (his favorite part), I fashioned it into loaves/put them in bread pans, and Bryan made the crumble for the top. We spread the crumble on top of the dough and left it to rise again. We headed out to a brewery for dinner with friends, trusting the yeast to do its thing. Several brews and tasty eats later, we headed home. The yeast had been a bit lazy so we put it in the oven while we got it up to temperature. Amazing what a bit of heat will do! While the bread cooked I got to work on the cookies. I used the recipe I found on Elsa Cooks. The dough came together quickly and we let it chill while the bread baked. When timer went off the bread came out looking perfect! We rolled out the cookie dough and while I cut it into circles, Bryan added the jam and sealed them shut.
*TIP* if you need to cut out a circular shape and don’t want to invest in a circle cookie cutter, use a glass or jar
20 minutes later and Bryan was dusting them with powdered sugar and, with the exception of a few that had unsealed during cooking, they were done! After some quality control testing we agreed everything was tasty and came out wonderfully!
Flash forward to Saturday. We are about 15 minutes from Bryan’s parents’ house when he looks at me and says did you pack the cookies and bread? Turns out they were sitting patiently on the counter waiting to be packed. If we turned around to get them we would get back to his parents’ with only an hour until family started arriving. Oh nos! Everyone had been told about the placek and was impressed and looking forward to it. Super oh nos.
We kicked into crisis mode. I hit Pinterest hard and found a few placek recipes. I made up an emergency grocery list and Bryan power shopped while I walked Seneca around the block. When we got to his parents’ house the baking frenzy started! There were some initial issues figuring out how to make his mom’s mixer from the 70s work (how do the beaters attach?) I did a mix of this recipe I found on Delicious Inspiration and what I could remember from Grandma Mary’s recipe. Not having the 6 hours to do a cold rise I added some extra sugar to give the yeast a bit more to feed on and put it in the oven, set to warm. We quickly put together the cookie dough. The mixer couldn’t completely handle it so I had to knead it by hand a bit. We put that in the fridge. Two hours later, we finished making the cookies. They turned out very well and very tasty 🙂 Also, hot jam is sort of like molten lava. People started arriving, bread was rising, and Bryan’s dad hit the kitchen to cook up the pierogi. When dinner was served we put the placek in to cook. Soon some wonderful smells started to come from the kitchen. After dinner we nervously checked on the bread and it all looked good! We took it out and tentatively cut a slice. Then took a bite. Very hot but very tasty!!! Before we knew it the cookies and the better part of two loaves were gone! Success! We are dessert rock stars.
And the best part, when we got home on Sunday we still had our own stash of kolacky and placek!