In the Winter Book of A Taste of Slovakia series, which I’m planning to publish later this year, there will be a chapter on Slovak wedding and our most popular wedding cakes. To bring you the best from the field, I joined forces with Jana, a skilled baker who creates all sorts of cakes and tortes for her friends and their special occasions. Her recipe for Punčové rezy will be included in the book together with photos I took while she was making an assortment of cakes for a birthday party.
Some of you may know Punschkrapfen – a classic Austrian dessert laced with rum and glazed with pink fondant. We borrowed the idea from our southern neighbours and created Punčové rezy. There are quite a few recipes for this cake circulating on Slovak cooking websites – and among professional bakers. I tried many, with varied success, and have finally arrived at my own creation that doesn’t use shop-bought fondant or any food colourings.
Punch-Soaked Sponge Slices
For the sponge:
- 6 medium size eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 6 heaped tablespoons cake flour
- a pinch of salt
- a small jar of jam to spread on baked sponge
For the punch:
- 100 ml redcurrant syrup
- 100 ml water
- 50 ml dark rum
- 3 cloves
- cinnamon stick
For the icing:
- 150 g powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons redcurrant syrup
- Line a baking tray of 39x29cm (≈15x11in) with baking paper. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until smooth and fluffy. In a different bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Spoon by spoon, add the flour into the yolk mixture and stir gently in between the additions. When all the flour is incorporated, gradually spoon in the whisked egg whites, folding them gently into the batter.
- Transfer the batter into the baking tray and level with a spatula. Bake in the oven preheated to 180°C for about 15 minutes, or until the sponge turns golden brown on the surface and the skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Take out of the oven and let cool down.
- To make the punch, put all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat, stir well, cover with a lid and let stand for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cover the sponge dough in the baking tray with a large enough wooden board and turn it upside down. Now you have the dough on the board with the baking paper on top. Remove it carefully and discard the paper. Cut off the rough edges, then cut the dough lengthways into three parts. Take away the middle part and chop or tear it into small pieces together with the cut-offs. Place in a mixer and pulse. Transfer the crumbled sponge into a large bowl.
- Remove the cloves and the cinnamon stick from the punch. Pour it onto the crumbled sponge and stir well. Let soak for a few minutes. In the meantime, spread the jam on the two remaining parts of the sponge. Distribute the punch soaked crumbs onto one part and cover with the other, putting it the jam side down. Press lightly to even all three layers of the cake.
- Now is the time to make the icing. Put all the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir well until you achieve a slow-dripping consistency. Apply on the top and the sides of the cake. Don’t worry if some of the icing runs down the sides, the sponge layers will absorb it as you store the cake in a cold place overnight.
- The next day, use the butter knife to return any unabsorbed icing back onto the sides of the cake. Only cut as many slices as you need to serve. The rest of the cake can be stored in a cool place for up to a week.