Recipes and images from Polska: New Polish Cooking by Zuza Zak (Hardie Grant Books, $45, hbk).
View our Readable feasts review and more recipes from the book here.
My perpetually young-at-heart great auntie Krysia was my grandma Halinka’s younger sister, who lived in Olsztyn, not too far from the magical, meandering lake district called Mazury. She’s been making this potato pie for years, therefore the quantities and instructions she gave to me were ‘lots of marjoram, lots, lots’ and ‘a good amount of bacon, but not too much’. Here, I give you my interpretation of this delicious, family recipe.
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas 4) and liberally grease a 900 g (2 lb) loaf tin.
Grate the potatoes as finely as you can. If the potatoes are watery, then you will need to squeeze out some of the excess water. Place the grated potato in a large bowl.
Fry the lardons or bacon bits in a frying pan over a medium heat until they release their fat and turn crispy then set aside on a plate. Add the oil to the frying pan over a medium heat and fry the onions for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and continue to fry for 2–3 minutes. Allow both to cool for 5–10 minutes before adding to the grated potato.
Beat the egg whites until soft and fluffy and then add the egg yolks and beat together until combined. Stir the eggs into the grated potato mixture, then add the flour and cream.
Add the marjoram and season the mixture with a large pinch of salt and both the peppers (be liberal). As the bacon is salty you need only add 2 pinches of salt, however, if you were to make a vegetarian version and substitute the bacon for mushrooms, then you may want to add a little more.
Tip the mixture into your prepared dish - the depth of the babka needs to be at least 8 cm (3 in) - and bake in the oven for 50–60 minutes. It is ready when the top is golden and crisp.