What is Sekacz ?

Sometimes called a Tree Cake, the sekacz was introduced and gain popularity during the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the late 14th Century.  It is recognized by the Poles as a regional specialization of the Podlasie region (where Aundrea’s family origniates in the eastern borderland. One of the most incredible desserts to come  from Poland, the sękacz cake (pronounced  seng-kach) is a delicacy that has both a unique shape and taste.

This incredible, extra rich pound cake is distinctive in both taste and shape. The thick, rich batter contains more than 40 eggs making it luscious and long lasting. Ingredients in the cake vary somewhat from bakery to bakery, as some bakeries insist on keeping their recipes a secret, but the numerous eggs that provide the golden brown layers are the key to the rich taste of the cake.

It is easily recognizable for its distinctive conical, pine tree shape  obtained from its manner of baking. The batter is systematically poured in layers onto a rotary spit in an open oven or over or above a very hot wood-burning fire. This painstaking process continues over a period of more than 10 hours. As it bakes, it develops spikey forms that look like branches. The size of the average cake varies from as small as four inches to over three feet. Skilled pastry chefs have created sękacz cakes that weigh more than 100 pounds.

When it is finished, the cake will stand vertically with a hollow center where the baker can place flowers, candy or fruit. As the cake is sliced horizontally from the top, the rings from the layers look like the rings in the trunk of a tree. It can be drizzled with chocolate or icing, but most often is enjoyed plain.

One origin of the cake, according to legend, was in the 16th century when Polish Queen Bona challenged her bakers to create an extraordinary cake for the wedding of her son, Prince Sigmund August. The royal bakers created the cake with the usual ingredients of eggs, butter, sugar and flour while adding other ingredients such as lemon rind, rum and almonds. Because of the ingredients and the labor involved - painstaking turning of the cake on a spit hour after hour - the cake was affordable only to the rich.

For a long time, people ate sekacz only at weddings. Now, however, many Polish bakeries provide them daily. However, the tree cakes are still popular at weddings, but people enjoy them on Christmas, Easter, and birthdays, too.

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