With three big events on the Catholic calendar yesterday I had a hard time deciding which to celebrate. It was the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, for whom I have great fondness, the feast of Divine Mercy, for which I have great devotion, and the beatification of our blessed Pope John Paul II. Hmmm...which to celebrate?
Well, I ended up praying the prayers of the Divine Mercy throughout the day, preparing an Italian meal (which covered St. Joseph in my mind) and enjoying a wonderful a Polish dessert, supposedly the favorite dessert of Pope John Paul II. It was a full and complete day. ;-)
This dessert is one that will be an annual treat on October 22 the new feast day of our beloved Blessed John Paul II. What a treat to look forward to -- like a giant cream filled pastry. Yum! I used the "easier" of the two recipes found at Catholic Cuisine and it turned out just wonderful (but I am wondering how that other one would turn out...might have to do a test run). With just the purchase of a box of puff pastry and cooking a quick pastry cream, the entire dessert was finished. Just a few hours of chilling is all it needed (and it's just as tasty this morning, so don't worry about those leftovers!). I'm not certain how authentic this recipe is, as the video at Catholic Cuisine states the cream cake has a shortbread crust and a pasry top, but it was a delicious attempt at this ethnic dish.
I struggled with the pronunciation of this heavenly treat, but after watching the video at Catholic Cuisine it seems the pronunication is: Krem'-ōf-ka Puh-pes'-ka -- not as complicated as it looks.
I am posting the recipe just as Jessica posted it at Catholic Cuisine, but just so you know I did not bake the pastries with a baking rack on top. I did, however, push them down lightly with a large spatula (just to push some of the air out) halfway through the bake and at the end. My total bake time was 25 minutes. Also, I pulled the pastry out of the freezer and while it thawed, I cooked and chilled my cream -- kind of backwards, but it worked. After the pastries were baked and almost completely cool, I spooned on the chilled cream. Because the cream was set, it didn't run and didn't require the use of the sided dish as a mold, I just plated it on my serving platter and chilled it for several hours before serving. The whipped cream and strawberry are optional, but special.
Polish Kremówka Papieska
2 sheets (1.1-pound package) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1 recipe Easy Pastry Cream (see below)
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out each piece of puff pastry slightly to blend the seam lines. Without cutting all the way through, lightly score each pastry sheet into 9 sections. Sandwich each puff pastry sheet between two pieces of parchment paper and two cooling racks. This will keep the pastry flat but still flaky. Bake 15 minutes, remove top rack and top sheet of parchment paper. Replace rack and continue to bake until golden and crispy throughout, about 15 more minutes. (See my note above on this technique.) Cool completely.
If you like a thick layer of filling, make a double batch of Easy Pastry Cream. (I made one recipe)
Using a 13x9-inch pan as a mold, place one layer of cooked puff pastry in the bottom of the pan. Pour hot pastry cream over it, and place second layer of cooked puff pastry on top. Refrigerate until set. When ready to serve, using the prescored marks as guides, cut into 9 pieces. Dust each piece with confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate leftovers. (I chilled my cream and spooned it on almost completely cooled pastries. I pulled the pastry out of the freezer and while it thawed, I cooked and chilled my cream -- kind of backwards but it works.)
Easy Pastry Cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons cornstarch
6 large egg yolks
In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, cornstarch and egg yolks to a boil, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Reduce heat slightly and continue to boil 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to get in the corners. Take the pan off the heat and plunge it into an ice-water bath or, if you have lumps, strain it through a sieve into a pan or heatproof bowl set in ice water.