|Alternative names||Easter shortcake|
|Place of origin||Poland|
|Main ingredients||flour, sugar, butter or margarine, eggs, icing, candied or dried fruits, nuts|
According to Polish gastronomy coursebooks, typical mazurek is a cake that can be made of one or two sheets of short (or "half-short") pastry or one sheet of short (or "half-short") pastry covered with a sheet of butter sponge cake. The two sheets are "glued" together with a help of a layer of marmalade. In case of one-sheet version, marmalade is skipped or goes on top, under the layer of icing. The top of mazurek is covered with a layer of icing (i.e. sugar icing or fudge caramel cream[a]) or jelly. It is also decorated with nut-based icing or almond-based icing and candied fruits. Traditionally, home-baked mazurek cakes are often decorated with dried fruits and nuts.
Among other versions, often to be found in popular cook books and gastronomy coursebooks is "Gypsy mazurek" (mazurek cygański). A sheet of "half-short" pastry is "half-baked", covered with a layer made of dried fruit, almonds, egg yolks creamed with sugar and whipped egg white and baked again.
Name and origin
The cake's name may have its origins in the Mazur (or Masurian) tribe inhabiting the Mazovia region of central Poland. Another theory says it might originate from the word mazurek (Polish for mazurka), traditional folk dance in triple metre from Poland. A shortcrust pastry, Mazurek is considered one of the primary desserts of Easter across Poland. What distinguishes it from other festive dessert cakes is the abundance of decoration with dried fruit and nuts, its overall sweetness, and chocolate icing, contributing to its prolonged freshness.
Although considered uniquely Polish, almost a seasonal national dessert, the recipe for Mazurek came to Poland most likely from the East, via the spice trade-route from Turkey in the early 17th century.
Appearance and symbolism
Its symbolism is closely associated with the period of Wielki Post (Polish for Lent) thus marking its successful completion. In fact, after a 40-day fast (not a total abstinence from food by any means), which is celebrated in Christian liturgy in memory of the Temptation of Christ, mazurek was supposed to be the rich reward for adherence to faith and tradition. Although today, the religious meaning of mazurek is virtually lost in Poland, the cake is closely associated with the seasonal celebrations nevertheless.
News portal Wirtualna Polska insisted that mazurek cannot resemble any other regular cake. It is supposed to be flat in multitude of varieties, each with different flavour and lavishly decorated. Twelve of them (served side by side, as claimed by the magazine), would not be entirely out of line traditionally.
Mazurek on the List of (Polish) traditional products
The nutty mazurek ("nutty Easter shortcake", pol. mazurek orzechowy) was entered onto the list of Polish traditional bakery and confectionery products for the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MRiRW) on 3 November 2011, described in a particular way. The shortcrust (half-short) base is prepared from ground walnuts, flour, sugar, margarine, small number of eggs and a little bit of sour cream. The frosting is a walnut cream or – according to Polish Food magazine published by MRiRW – icing made of sugar, water and milk powder melted together. The thick layer of icing is spread over baked cake and finally decorated with dried fruit (raisins), almonds and walnuts into a pattern. "Nutty mazurek" is supposed to be considerably flat, rectangular, 20 centimetres (7.9 in) by 40 centimetres (16 in) in size, very sweet with distinct aroma of walnuts, golden or golden-brown in color.
- Fudge caramel cream (Polish kajmak) – a variety of dulce de leche.
- Magdalena Głodek / Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MRIRW). "Mazurek orzechowy – palce lizać / Nutty Easter shortcake-yummy!" (PDF). Polish Food (in English and Polish). Vol. Spring 2014 / no. 1-2014 (68). Agency for Restructuring and Modernisation of Agriculture (ARiMR), with the help of Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. pp. 10–11. ISSN 1232-9541.
- Staff writer (3 April 2006). "Mazurki wielkanocne". Kobieta.wp.pl, kulinaria (in Polish). Wirtualna Polska. Archived from the original on 13 December 2013. Retrieved 13 December 2013.
(Translation: If the tradition is to be followed, there should be 12 mazurek cakes at Easter, each with different flavour.) Aby tradycji stało się zadość, na wielkanocnym stole powinno być ich 12, a każdy o innym smaku.
- Konarzewska, Małgorzata (2011). "3.14. Mazurki". Technologia gastronomiczna z towaroznawstwem: podręcznik do nauki zawodu kucharz w technikum i szkole policealnej. Tom 2 (in Polish). Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Szkolne i Pedagogiczne. pp. 144–146.
- "Liturgical Year Recipes: Mazurek". Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton & Helmut Ripperger, David McKay publishing, New York. Catholic Culture. 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- Patryk A. Nachaczewski (2007). "Babki i mazurki". Interview with Maciej Gadziński. Przewodnik Katolicki. Archived from the original on 15 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013 – via Internet Archive.
- K.T. (2013). "Święta Wielkanocne: Mazurek – skąd taka tradycja i nazwa mazurek?". Miesięcznik Podróże.pl. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Contributing writer (3 April 2011). "Co wiesz o wielkanocnym mazurku?". Serwisy zdrowotne Edipresse Polska S.A. Wiesz Jak.pl Zdrowie. Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Ann Hetzelgunkel (2013). "Mazurka at Polish Christmas Wigilia Meal & Foods". Courses of the Meal / Menu. Polish Christmas. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- Ludmiła Jezierska (2007). "Symbolika świąt Bożego Narodzenia (The Symbolism of Christmas)" (in Polish). Urząd Marszałkowski Województwa Pomorskiego. Archived from the original on 25 December 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2013 – via Internet Archive.
- staff writer (2013). "Mazurek orzechowy". Lista produktów tradycyjnych (woj. kujawsko-pomorskie). Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Warsaw. Retrieved 15 March 2016.