Metrový koláč is a classic Slovak dessert we like to make at Easter time. The exact translation into English would make it a One-Metre-Long Cake, and although the cake is not quite as long as the name suggests, it does provide enough goodness for a big family, as well as plenty of guests.
This Easter, again, the Covid-19 pandemic will prevent us from sharing the table with people outside of our nuclear families, but Metrový koláč will be there just the same. To make the dough, we use two baking tins (30x10x5)cm, similar to those for a Sweedish almond cake. If you can’t get them in your country, the traditional 2lb loaf tins (900g) are a good replacement.
To make the cream filling, Slovaks use Zlatý klas powder mix, which is basically vanilla flavoured cornstarch.
For the dough:
- 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 250 g (1 cup) powdered sugar
- 8 tablespoons warm water
- 10 tablespoons oil
- 250 g (1¾ cups) fine pastry flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 heaped tablespoon cocoa powder
- margarine or lard for greasing the tins
For the cream:
- ½ litre milk
- 40 g (6 tablespoons) Zlaty klas or cornstarch
- 1 sachet vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 250 g butter
- 150 g (¾ cup) powdered sugar
For the icing:
- 200 g cooking chocolate
- 100 g margarine
- Grease the baking tins and dust them with flour. Make sure all the little ridges are greased and dusted thoroughly.
- Mix the egg yolks with the sugar until fluffy. Spoon in the water, stir gently, then spoon the oil into the mixture. Stir again and add the flour with the baking powder. Mix until smooth.
- Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Spoon by spoon, fold them into the base mixture until it is light and airy.
- Pour half of the mixture into one pan and level out with a spatula. Add the cocoa powder to the other half of the mixture and mix until smooth. Pour into the other pan and level out.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, place the baking pans on a baking sheet and put in the oven. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cakes come off the sides of the pans. A tester (toothpick or skewer) inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean. Take the pans out onto a cooling board, let cool for 10 minutes, then turn each pan over to gently ease the cake out.
- Take the butter out of the fridge and cut it into a mixing bowl to let it soften. Meanwhile, pour the milk in a saucepan and stir in the cornstarch. Add the vanilla sugar/extract, place over a low heat and slowly bring to the boil. Stir all the time until the mixture thickens. Set aside and let cool down, stirring now and then to prevent the skin forming on the surface.
- Add the powdered sugar to the softened butter and cream together until fluffy. Spoon by spoon, stir in the vanilla mixture. Put aside.
- Cut the cakes into slices about 1cm thick. Take one slice at a time, spread the vanilla cream on it and stick to another one, alternating the pale and brown (cocoa) slices to create a long cake. It’s advisable to make it into two shorter ones for better storage in the fridge. Spread the remaining cream on the top and the sides of the cake.
- Break the chocolate into a small pot fitted over another pot with simmering hot water. Add the margarine and let melt together, stirring gently until smooth. Let cool down slightly until the chocolate icing is just the right consistency to pour over the top of the cake. Lift the icing with a long, flat knife as it comes dripping down the sides, and smooth it evenly all around the cake. Let set at room temperature, then store in the fridge.
- To serve, cut at an oblique angle to create an alternating pale and brown pattern on each slice.
Happy Easter to everyone, stay safe and healthy!