Polish Carpathian Mountain Cream Cake (Karpatka)

Karpatka cake recipe

 Darius Dzinnik / Getty Images

Prep: 60 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Refrigeration: 60 mins
Total: 3 hrs
Servings: 9 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
480 Calories
40g Fat
25g Carbs
6g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Amount per serving
Calories 480
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 52%
Saturated Fat 25g 124%
Cholesterol 143mg 48%
Sodium 131mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 6g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 116mg 9%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 181mg 4%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake recipe is known as karpatka. It's a peasant version of the more refined kremówka, which is made with puff pastry.

Karpatka is made with the same type of dough used to make cream puffs and éclairs, known as pâte à choux in French. When dusted with confectioners' sugar, the dessert takes on the look of the craggy, snow-capped Carpathian Mountains, hence its name.

In addition to a custard filling, karpatka can be filled with easy pastry cream.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray

  • 1 cup water

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour

  • 5 large eggs

  • 1 cup pastry cream, or easy pastry cream

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, or potato starch

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

  • Confectioners' sugar, for garnish

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this Karpatka cake is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation.

Make the Dough

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Lightly coat a 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray and then line it with parchment paper.

  3. In a medium saucepan, bring water, 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter, and salt to a boil.

  4. When the butter has completely melted, remove from heat and, using a wooden spoon, add 1 cup flour all at once. Return to stove and stir over low heat for 2 or 3 minutes or until dough cleans sides of pan and forms a ball.

  5. Remove from heat and stir in eggs one at a time, beating well, either by hand or with an electric mixer, after each addition. The batter should be smooth and glossy and cling to the spoon.

  6. Pour dough into prepared pan, but don't smooth it out. You want the finished top to look like a rugged mountain. Bake 30 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven and pierce the top all over with a skewer and bake another 10 minutes or until top is golden brown and dry.

  8. Remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

Make the Filling

  1. Gather the ingredients for the filling.

  2. In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar, cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons flour to a boil, stirring frequently.

  3. Reduce heat and continue to cook and stir until thickened like pudding, at least 2 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

  4. Place in an ice water bath to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

  5. Make sure the filling is completely cool before beating in 20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) softened butter.

Assemble the Cake

  1. Split the cooled pastry in half horizontally.

  2. Place the bottom half back in the clean baking pan and pour the cooled filling over, spreading evenly.

  3. Top with the other half of pastry, and refrigerate until cold.

  4. When ready to serve, cut into rectangles with a serrated knife and dust heavily with confectioners' sugar to look like snow on a mountain top.

Tips

  • This cake is best eaten on the same day. Since it is a custard-type filling, it should be kept refrigerated and will keep for up to 2 days—just know that it will become mushy the longer it sits.
  • You cannot freeze Karpatka, so enjoy every bite while it is fresh.