Some sources would have it that the kremowka (pronounced 'krem-ohv-kah') is derived from the French mille-feuille, created in the seventeenth century by the chef François Pierre de la Varenne. The emergence of a similar type of cake on Polish territory coincided with various regional, diverse versions of the delicacy. For example the napoleonka in Warsaw is the same dessert as the kremowka is in Krakow and the rest of Poland.
In the south in particular, a certain Karol Wojtyla would visit his local bakery for a taste of its cream puff pastry. In his own Marcel Proust-like moment, it was on a 1999 visit to his home town that the boy who became pope John Paul II remembered with nostalgia his schoolboy days in the market square. In a similar fashion to what Proust’s fond memories did for the madeleine, Wadowice’s bakeries remain popular for the pope’s favour. It is said that the recipe for the kremovkas that Karol Wojtyla so enjoyed has since been lost, since the bakery had kept it a secret. Since there are many ways to prepare the cake today, here’s one from my auntie, a native of Krakow.
Readymade pastry sheets
... and for the cream:
600 ml milk
4 egg yolks
150 g sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla flavoured sugar
70 g malted wheat flour
50 g potato starch
200 g butter
Small glass of whatever liquor you prefer
Bake the pastry in an oven preheated to 220 degrees Celsius for around fifteen minutes
Once removed from the over, cut across the pastry into two parts
Heat two-thirds of the milk, add the egg yolks, wheat flour and potato starch, normal sugar and vanilla-flavoured sugar
Use a mixer, and slowly add the hot milk, until the cream thickens
Allow to cool
Melt the butter and add into the cream until it thickens again
Pour the cream over one part of the cake; use the other part to cover, and allow to cool in the refrigerator for an hour
Sprinkle with powdered sugar
Your papal delight is ready to be blessed with a bite!
Image: (cc) Kremówka facebook page