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Polish Placek – An Enriched Sweet Bread

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This sweet bread is topped with buttery crumb topping for a delicious treat.  Bake it as a loaf or as a round for an extra special treat with your coffee or tea.  It is an Easter time tradition, but is great all year long.

first slice of crumb topped placek being lifted out of round cake-like loaf

     This sweet treat is part bread and part coffee cake.  It is a perfect addition to your breakfast or brunch menu.  It is fabulous on its own fresh, but with a smear of butter or jam it is great for several days.  It is an Easter tradition in many places, but there is no reason you can’t enjoy a slice any time.  A batch makes two loaves (or cakes) so enjoy one now and freeze one for later!

    With Easter right around the corner, I knew I wanted to do something fun and a little different.  With this year’s Easter Open House being a brunch theme, I had the perfect venue to serve lots of coffee cake!

    Nana’s family is Polish, so I thought it would be fun to try out another fun Polish recipe.  The lemony babka from I made last year around Easter was so fun, I knew there had to be more delicious Polish recipes that would fit the bill.

mixer beating butter next to bowl of bubbly sponge ready to be mixed in.
Bowl of bubbly sponge next to creamed butter mixture

   There were quite a few fun versions of Polish placek out there.  All started with a rich yeast dough, full of butter and eggs. Then they are topped with a crumb topping called Kruszynki.  Most were baked in loaf pans and they all looked delicious.

    I found a recipe on a Polish parish’s website that was from a newspaper clipping dated March 17, 1966.  This is Mrs. Mary Lipinski’s recipe of 124 Colt Street, city unknown.  It seemed like Mary might know a thing or two about placek, so I knew this would be the recipe I would go with.

pans of placek dough next to bowl of crumb topping.

    The first time I made it, I followed the recipe to a “T.”  That is always a great place to start, especially when it comes to baking.

      That was a really large recipe, meant to yield 4 loafs.  Which is a lot of placek, even for my big family of eaters.  So this time I decided to make some tweaks and shrink it down a bit.

     Below is the original recipe in case that is what you are looking for.   I baked it in 12″ cast iron skillet and a 9″ one as well.  However it was intended to be baked in either 4 9×5″ loaf pans, 4 9″ round cake pans, or a combination of the two.

one loaf shaped cake and one round cake on cooling rack

Polish Placek Coffee Cake – Big Batch Recipe

Makes 4 loaves or 1 12″ and 1 9″ round (Serves 32)

Part 1 Ingredients
  • 2 cups scalded milk, lukewarm
  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
Part 2 Ingredients
  • 1.5 cups softened butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
Kruszynki (Crumb Topping):
  • 1.25 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients in the part one list.  Cover with a towel and let rise for a half hour.
  2. In your mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar and beat until completely combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating between each addition.  Add flour, salt and vanilla and mix until just combined.  
  3. Stir together the yeast mixture and the butter mixture until if form a soft (and very sticky) dough.  Place in greased pans and let rise until doubled in size.  Don’t let them rise over 3/4 of the way up the pans, so they don’t go over while baking.
  4. In a small bowl, mix sugar and flour for crumb topping.  Use a fork to cut the butter into the sugar, flour mixture.  Sprinkle over dough.
  5. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes for loaves and 35-45 for cast iron skillets.  Mary says not to over bake them because the dough will get dark. 

Placek History and Pronunciation

It seems like the word placek just means cake in Polish.  It is pronounced “plah-sek.”

I am not sure how original this is to Poland itself, but it seems a lot of American cities with large Polish population have a history of placek.  It is often served at Easter time.

I suppose that is why almost every recipe you find makes a TON.  I suppose the grandmas doing the baking are expecting a crowd.

Luckily they do freeze well, so I guess if you are baking some you might as well bake a lot. Then you can have an easy treat later.

slices of streusel topped buttery slices of placek coffee cake bread ready to eat

Most recipes include golden raisins in the dough.  You can add them in while you are mixing it up.

I am not surprised as my Polish babka recipe also included raisins. My family is mixed on being raisin fans, so I opted to leave them out this time.

You can also add nuts to the crumb mixture.  Walnuts seem to be a popular addition, but again I opted to leave them out this time.

slice of butter crumb topped placek bread with butter spread over it.

Things to Know Before You Start

This bread essentially rises three times.  There is the sponge, the proofing and the final rise.

So it does take a little time, but that equals flavor! If you want to spread it out, you can chill the dough after the proof.

Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put the proved dough in the refrigerator for up to three days.  Let it come back to room temperature, then put it in your prepared baking pans.

The dough is more of a thick batter.  It will not come into a ball like regular bread dough.  It should get kind of smooth and elastic as the gluten is worked, but it will remain sticky and loose.

You can mix in all of the flour by hand, but you will thank yourself if you use a mixer.  It makes getting the gluten developed a lot easier!

More crumb topped coffee cake recipes

Great-great-grandma’s dutch apple cake recipe has been in my family for generations.  It is a simple cake topped with apples and plenty of golden topping.  It is great as a coffee cake at breakfast, for an afternoon treat or as a simple dessert.

Use fresh or frozen peaches to make all of your breakfast dreams come true. Peach coffee cake is perfect for tea time too. It’s an old fashioned recipe that will quickly become a an all time favorite.

Yield: 24 Servings

Polish Placek

slice of butter placek coffee cake with crumb topping

This sweet bread is topped with buttery crumb topping for a delicious treat. Bake it as a loaf or as a round for an extra special treat with your coffee or tea. It is an Easter time tradition, but is great all year long.

Prep Time 5 hours
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 5 hours 40 minutes

Ingredients

Sponge

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 pkg) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup flour

Dough

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • dash nutmeg
  • zest of lemon or orange (or 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract)
  • 2 1/2 cups flour

Crumb Topping

  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour

Instructions

Sponge

  1. Warm the milk to about 105°F. It should be warm to the touch, but not so warm you couldn't keep your finger it in.
  2. Pour into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar and yeast, let sit for about 15 minutes. It should by foamy and active.
  3. Stir in the flour and let sit until about doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  4. During this time pull the butter and eggs out of the refrigerator for the dough if you haven't already. 

Dough

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar until it's light and fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  3. Stir in the salt, nutmeg and zest or extract.  
  4. Add 1 cup flour, beating until combined.  Add sponge and remaining flour. Beat for 5 minutes.  The batter should be smooth and elastic, but still sticky.  It is more of a stiff batter than a ball of dough. 
  5. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel.  Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 - 2 hours. 
  6. The proofed dough can be left covered and refrigerated for up the 3 days at this point. (Just allow it to come to room temperature again before proceeding.)

Crumb Topping and Baking

  1. Grease 2 9x5-inch loaf pans, 2 9-inch round cake pans, or one of each. Punch down the proofed dough and put half in each pan.  Using damp or greased fingers, press the dough to the edges of the pan. 
  2. Cut together the crumb ingredients until they are crumbly and well mixed. Sprinkle half over each part of the dough.  Press lightly to affix to the dough.
  3. Cover and let rise until they are risen almost to the top of the pans, about 1 1/2 hours. 
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake 35-40 minutes.  They should be golden on top. 
  5. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack until completely cool. 
  6. Store in airtight container at room temperature or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.
  7. Serve slightly warmed or at room temperature with a spread of butter or preserves. 

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

24

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 101mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 4g

All nutritional information is estimated and will depend on the exact ingredients you use.

Did you make this recipe?

I'd love to see it! Share a picture on Instagram or Pinterest and tag me @carleecooks to let me know how it went!

slice of butter placek coffee cake with crumb topping

Share with your friends!

Adam

Monday 17th of May 2021

I made this bread and it didn’t turn out well. What did I do wrong? It is very crumbly and the loafs sunk in the middle.

Carlee

Wednesday 19th of May 2021

It's hard to guess. I'm wondering if maybe it was overproofed?

Andrea Nine

Friday 13th of March 2020

What a fun bread! I love the touch of lemon zest and nutmeg in it! Have a wonderful weekend stay healthy my friend!

Carlee

Thursday 19th of March 2020

It all comes together so well to make the perfect cake/bread hybrid! Thanks, Andrea!

Edmond G. Belanger

Monday 18th of July 2016

What a post

Carlee

Monday 18th of July 2016

Thanks!

Unknown

Friday 6th of May 2016

In the instructions for part 2 it mentions adding cream. It is not listed in the ingredient list. Please clarify.

Carlee

Friday 6th of May 2016

I meant it as a verb. I changed it to say beat so there isn't any confusion! Sorry about that! I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Julie's Lifestyle

Monday 18th of April 2016

Hello Carlee, we are so happy to have featured this recipe at our Monday Cooking and Crafting with J&J! Have a wonderful week. :) Julie xo

Carlee

Monday 18th of April 2016

Thank you so much, Julie!

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