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All About Polish Mazurka - Mazurek

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Royal Mazurek

Royal Mazurek

© 2008 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Most people are familiar with mazurka as a Polish folk dance, but it is also a country sparrow and someone from Mazur in North Central Poland.

But another and tasty meaning of mazurka, or mazurek in Polish, is a flat Polish cake made with different bases and toppings.

The one thing they have in common is they are rarely over 1 inch in height. Traditionally served at Easter when it is known as mazurek wielkanocny (mah-ZOO-rek vee-el-ka-NAWTS-nee), this pastry now appears at tables year-round. The varieties are seemingly endless and vary from region to region and family to family. They can be made with yeast doughs, crumbly doughs made with hard-cooked egg yolks (known as kruche ciasto Polskie), flaky doughs or layered with torte wafers. Some doughs are almond- or chocolate-flavored. The topping varieties are staggering -- almond paste, dried fruits, fresh fruits, nuts, meringues, poppyseed, pastry cream, and some are left plain.

When the top of an Easter mazurka is frosted, it often is emblazoned with Alleluja or Wesolego Alleluja, which loosely translated is "Happy Easter," spelled out in almonds or icing. Frequently, pussy willow branches (a popular sign of spring in Poland) made of marzipan, or mini chocolate chips and almonds are depicted on the cake top.

It is speculated that mazurek, the cake, was inspired by sweet Turkish desserts, but its origin is uncertain. Russians are also fond of mazurki (plural for mazurek), but they can be entirely different from the Polish form.
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