Did you know that the red of strawberries, raspberries, and red currants give two summer months, červen (June) and červenec (July) their name? (Červený is Czech for red.) As berry season begins take advantage of the U-pick bounty and make a classic using piškoty, spongey biscuits made from flour and meringue, as a launch pad for summery desserts that require little preparation and no actual baking.
A few tips: Some of these recipes call for a spring-form pan. The smaller your pan, the more impressive your layers will be! Also, if you can’t find caster sugar, pulse an equal amount of granulated sugar in a coffee grinder. And for those in search of gluten-free biscuits, health food stores carry a variety of alternatives to flour-based piškoty.
Chilled applesauce cake
This cake is a year-round winner but particularly refreshing in the summer; use the small, tart green apples available at the farmer’s market.
1 bag Opavia dětské piškoty
1 kg (5-6 medium sized) apples
200 ml apple juice or water
2 tbsp cornstarch (I used Gustin by Dr.Oetker)
1-2 tbsp sugar
Fresh mint, to garnish
Peel and core the apples and shred into a deep pan. Cook the apples down with half of the juice or water for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you get a chunky apple sauce (POZOR: Never try to speed up cooking by over-mixing your apples! They will get mushy and lose texture.) Add sugar according to taste and the acidity of apples. Dilute the starch in the remaining liquid and add to the apples, simmering for another 10 minutes over low heat. Layer the bottom of a spring-form pan with piškoty, flat side down. Let the apple mixture cool before pouring half of it over the biscuit layer. Repeat until you have a second layer of piškoty and cover with the remaining sauce. Flatten with a spatula and shake a bit to release the air bubbles. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or at least for 3-4 hours. Garnish with fresh mint.
A quicky-and-easy Czech hack for the classic Italian tiramisu (food snobs, move along!). If the butter spread is too rich for your taste, replace one cup with two pieces of Lucina or Gervais.
2 containers butter spread (Pomazánkové máslo)
2 containers cream
2 tbsp superfine/caster sugar (or more according to taste)
100 ml coffee
100 ml rum (or coffee or walnut liqueur)
1 bag Opavia dětské piškoty
Cocoa or shredded dark chocolate, to garnish
Whisk together the butter spread and the sugar. Whip the cream and mix it into the batter. Combine the coffee and rum in a small bowl. Quickly dip the piškoty into the mixture. Line a medium baking dish with a layer of piškoty, flat side down. Cover with cream and repeat until you use up all the piškoty and the top layer is covered with cream. Refrigerate overnight. Sprinkle with cocoa and shredded dark chocolate to serve.
MIXED-BERRY SOUR CREAM CAKE
A beautiful way to behold the season’s berry bounty. Traditionally, this favorite Czech dessert is made with canned fruit and drizzled with the reserved syrup. But fresh fruit makes this simple cake look like it came from the cukrárna.
4 cups of mixed seasonal fruit (e.g. strawberries, raspberries, red currants)
3-4 containers of sour cream (zakysaná smetana)
1 bag whipping cream stabilizer or “smetana fix” (I used Dr. Oetker’s ztužovač šlehačky)
1 container of cream
1 bag of gelatin (I used Dr. Oetker’s cukrarenske žele)
Caster sugar/superfine sugar, to taste
2 bags Opavia dětské piškoty
Clean the berries, rinse and keep cold. Whisk together the cream and the whipping cream stabilizer. Mix in the sour cream and sugar (add more sugar if you are using tart berries). Place a layer of piškoty, flat side down, on the bottom of a spring-form pan and cover with a layer of the mixture. Add the berries and repeat the whole process until you have used all of the ingredients (depending on the size of your spring pan, about 2-3 layers). If you wish to skip the gelatin topping, finish with a cream layer and arrange fruits on it. If you prefer a gelatin topping, finish with the mixture of fruits. Prepare the gelatin according to the instructions and once chilled, pour over the berries. Refrigerate overnight.