Pusedle Palacinky Torta
Pauline used to make palacinky and sometimes floating islands, those meringues in a vanilla custard sauce made famous in the 1960’s by Julia Child. For special occasions Pauline occasionally made this recipe, a towering stack of thin Slovak pancakes layered with strawberry jam and crushed nuts, baked in a meringue. The finished cake looks somewhat like a Baked Alaska.
I found a crepe cake recipe in the Joy of Cooking cookbook, said to be an old colonial recipe originally from the Norman French. In this version the cake is sprinkled with sugar, warmed and then doused with rum before serving. Variations on line include a chocolate crepe cake with a chocolate meringue icing, but the meringue is not baked (it is much neater looking than my messy one with jam oozing out).
A savory variation is in Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook, Gȃteau de Crépes à la Florentine. Unsweetened crepes are layered with a spinach and mushroom mixture, and then baked in the oven covered with a cheese béchamel sauce.
Pauline’s daughter, Diane, recalled this meringue encased pancake concoction from her childhood. I haven’t been able to find it in any of my hundreds of cookbooks, or on line. In fact I wasn’t able to find it in Pauline’s handwritten cookbook either. I reconstructed it from her recipes for palicinky and for meringue, and put them together.
- Palicinky (you will need at least 15 eight inch Slovak crepes, which are a little sturdier than French crepes)
- Strawberry Jam – about ¾ cup
- ½ cup crushed walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds
- Meringue (recipe below)
- Place a cooled crepe in a cake pan greased with butter and dusted with sugar
- Spread a thin layer of jam on the crepe, then cover with another crepe
- Cover the second crepe with a thin layer of walnuts
- Repeat the crepe/strawberry jam/crepe/nuts layers until all crepes are used, ending with a crepe on top
- Cover the entire stack with meringue
- Bake at 225 degrees for 1.5 to 2 hours
Serve the cake warm or cool. The meringue creates a mysterious, fragile shell, so take the whole cake to the table to serve. When cut open, your guests will see the surprise of pancakes inside.
- 4 egg whites
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Red food coloring (optional)
- Whip the egg whites together with the tartar and vanilla until soft peaks
- Continue whipping and sprinkle in the sugar, one tbsp at a time
- Whip until stiff peaks
You will only need about half the meringue recipe to frost the cake with. With the rest, I made little meringue shells. Place dollops of meringue onto a parchment covered cookie sheet. Use a spoon to make an indent in each shell. Bake them with the cake, and when cooled, fill the hollow with whipped cream or ice cream and serve for dessert. I sprinkled mine with crushed candy cane (not a good idea to sprinkle them on before baking, I found out: they melt and become chewy).