Polish Cake Recipe – Pani Walewska
This Polish Cake is a combination of soft shortbread cake layers, tart jam, crunchy meringue and roasted walnuts that will have you fall in love with this meringue cake forever.
But, if that alone doesn’t do the trick, the thick layer of creamy custard in the middle sure will. Cold, out of the fridge, with a hot cup of coffee this Blitz Torte – type cake is a dream!
I created this delicious cake as a play on the Polish Pani Walewska cake, a polish dessert that has smitten my whole family ever since the first time we tried it.
The multiple times that I have made it, with small tweaks each time to perfect it I was getting such rave reviews I knew I had to share it here on the blog.
What is Pani Walewska Cake
This Polish Cake is named after a beautiful noblewoman and a mistress of the Napoleon Bonaparte, or so the story claims. The original Pani Walewska cake is made with all the same things you see in my cake, but with currant jam and almond flakes instead of walnuts.
Substitution for Plum Butter or Black Currant Jam
The black currant jam is a bit hard to find in the stores around here, so I replaced it with tart plum jam.
If plum butter or currant jam is something that’s hard to find where you live, feel free to replace it with tart cherries, raspberries or any other tart jam, or berry.
Pani Walewska or Blitz Torte
If you’ve never had any cake like this, but are looking for some reference, this cake closely resembles the German Blitz Torte, which is made almost identically, but without any jams or berries.
Components of the Polish Cake
If you have made my Plum Butter Pirog (tart base, plum butter, walnuts, and meringue) then you already know how to make this cake half way.
Each cake layer is basically a mini Plum Butter Pirog, which is then sandwiched with a modified Napoleon Cake custard.
The crunchy, the tart, sweet and creamy come together so well in this cake. Try this Polish Cake, you’ll love it!
Other Festive Cakes to try:
- Prague Cake – Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Custard Buttercream
- Esterhazy Cake – Almond and Hazelnut Cake layers with Custard
- Ferrero Rocher Cake – Hazelnut Cake with Nutella flavored buttercream.
- Best Napoleon Cake – this one is our family’s favorite!
Polish Cake Recipe - Pani Walewska
This Polish Cake is a combination of soft shortbread cake layers, tart jam, crunchy meringue, roasted walnuts and sandwiched with buttercream custard.
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1.5 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar, granulated
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream, boiling hot
- 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips
- 2 cups plum butter (tart)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or slivered/sliced almonds
- 1 cup raspberries (optional)
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar, granulated
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 4 oz butter, unsalted, room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F with the rack centered. Line a 10-inch round springform or baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper (for easier removal and cleanup) and set aside. Gather all the ingredients needed for the cake.
Make the meringue
In a bowl of a mixer fitted with a whip attachment combine the egg whites, sugar and salt. Whip for about 15-20 minutes or until very shiny, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted up from the meringue.
Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Or just use a gallon sized ziplock with a snipped end. Set aside. Alternatively, you can just spoon the meringue.
Make the Pirog Cake Layers
Make the dough: Combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Add sour cream and smooth with a whisk again. Next, add the butter and whisk until combined. Now add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and mix until dough forms. Divide the dough into 2 or three equal pieces (depending on how many layers you prefer).See bottom of recipe card for notes.
Assemble the cake layers: Spread 1 piece of dough per pan, into an even layer. Top with 1/3 of the plum butter, then pipe or spoon 1/3 of the prepared meringue on top keeping 1/2 an inch away from the sides of the baking pan as the meringue will expand while baking.
Now sprinkle 1/3 of the chopped walnuts.
Repeat the above steps 2 more times, to make 3 cake layers total.
Bake the Cake Layers: Bake the prepared cake layers for about 40 minutes. Check the oven at about 25-30 minutes, if the meringue is browning too quickly, tent the baking pans with a flat piece of parchment paper and continue baking for another 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then remove the cake layers with the removable bottom and allow to cool completely. Be gentle as the cake layers are very fragile and crack easy.
Meanwhile, make the Custard
Heat the milk in the microwave or in a medium saucepan until boiling.
Meanwhile, mix egg yolks, sugar, flour and a couple tablespoons of milk in a bowl until smooth. Now, add hot milk into the egg yolk mixture 1/2 a cup at a time, while whisking continuously.
Pour the mixture back into the sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring constantly. Cook 2-3 minutes past boiling. Remove from heat and put through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any clumps. Add vanilla and stir.
Allow the custard to completely cool - to speed up this process, spread the custard in a large, rimmed baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap, touching the custard to prevent a film from forming.
In a mixer bowl whip 4 oz of butter until fluffy and pale in color. Add the custard in 3-4 additions, whipping after each.
Transfer the custard to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the Ganache
Combine the boiling milk with chocolate chips. Allow to sit for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
Assemble the Cake
Put a dab of frosting onto the serving platter or board. Carefully slide the first cake layer off the bottom of the springform on top and press to adhere.
Pipe the Custard filling in dollops all over the top of the cake, staying about 1/3 inch away from the borders of the cake.
Top with the second cake layer.
Sprinkle the berries on top.
Drizzle with the ganache.
Refrigerate the cake for at least 8 hours for the cake to be stable.
Follow this rough order when making the cake -
- Prep: Turn the oven to 350F, line the baking sheets, get all of your ingredients out.
- Make the meringue (whips for about 15 minutes). If not using a stand mixer, reverse steps 2 and 3, making the dough first and the meringue second.
- Use this time to make the dough for the cake (I do this with a whisk, by hand, without a mixer to save time).
- Assemble cake layers for baking - (the dough, plum butter, meringue, and walnuts in a baking sheet) and bake for 40 minutes. Then allow cooling.
- Meanwhile, make the custard. Transfer the cooked custard into a flat, large baking sheet, cover with shrink wrap and allow to cool. Combine with whipped butter and transfer to a piping bag with a round piping tip.
- Right before assembling the cake, make the chocolate ganache.
- Assemble the cake. If making a 3 layer cake, this is best done in a cake ring lined with an acetate strip.
- Refrigerate for at least 12 hours for best results. Pictured cake was cut into 4 hours after assembly, so it could've been more stable.
Cake Size options:
This cake can be made in 3 different sizes (baking time stays the same)
- two 10-inch round pans;
- three 8-inch round pans,
- one 12in x 16in baking sheet, then divided in half, for two cake layers.
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I’m a little confused about the steps. Do I place raw dough into a pan, then spread jam and then pipe meringue and then bake it all together? Won’t the jam seep and mix into the dough?
Yes, that is exactly how you do it. I use a thick plum butter that doesn’t seep out. Any thicker type jam will also work.
This is quite confusing, so sorry, but just don’t know how to follow it.
Hi Nik, are there parts that you have questions about? This isn’t a beginner’s type of cake, so it might be too many steps for a novice, but if you bake often this shouldn’t be too confusing. let me know if you have any questions.
I’ve made this cake 2nd time and when I mix my custard with butter it clumps up … what I’m doing wrong ?
Most likely the temperature of your butter and custard are different. They need to both be room temperature in order for them to form a smooth custard. Also, add the butter into the custard in portions, not all at once.
Yes, I put custard in a fridge for cooling
My butter was room temperature, I whipped butter added custard slowly in 3-4 portions . Whipped just a bit .
I’ve decided to warm it all up again til texture was smooth . Put in a fridge again
Hopefully it will work …
Love this cake !
Thank you for your fast reply;)
Madame Waleska was e misters of Napoleon Bonaparte not his mother!!!!!!!!!!
And you’re absolutely right about that! Just fixed it, not sure what happened…