Polish Papal Cream Cake (Kremówka Papieska)

Polish Papal Cream Cake or Kremowka Papieska
Barbara Rolek
Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Refrigerate: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Servings: 9 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
464 Calories
26g Fat
49g Carbs
9g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Amount per serving
Calories 464
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 26g 33%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 106mg 35%
Sodium 236mg 10%
Total Carbohydrate 49g 18%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 9g
Calcium 82mg 6%
*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 cream cake is comprised of a sweet pastry cream that is layered between flaky puff pastry. It was renamed papal cream cake, or kremówka papieska (kreh-MOOF-kah pah-PYESS-kah), when it was learned St. Pope John Paul II loved it. It is somewhat similar to a French napoleon, but kremówka is topped with a dusting of confectioners' sugar instead of royal icing. Using store-bought puff pastry means this dessert comes together somewhat easily, ready for any holiday, special occasion, or simply when you need a sweet finish to a Polish-inspired meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 sheets puff pastry dough (1.1-pound package), thawed
  • For the Pastry Cream:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 large egg yolks (beaten)
  • Confectioners' sugar​, for garnish

Steps to Make It

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

Bake the Puff Pastry

  1. Gather the ingredients. Heat the oven to 400 F.

  2. Roll out each piece of puff pastry slightly to blend the seam lines, keeping it 1/4-inch thick (try to keep it a rectangle when rolling).

  3. Without cutting all the way through, lightly score one of the pastry sheets into 9 even sections. This is just a guide to be used when cutting and serving the cake later.

  4. Sandwich each puff pastry sheet between 2 pieces of parchment paper and 2 cooling racks. This will keep the pastry flat but still flaky as it bakes. If you don't have 4 cooling racks, bake the sheets one at a time.

  5. Bake 15 minutes, then remove the top rack and the top sheet of parchment paper.

  6. Replace the top rack and continue to bake until golden and crispy throughout, 2 to 5 minutes. Cool completely.

Make the Pastry Cream

  1. Gather the ingredients. Prepare a bowl of ice water.

  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, cornstarch, and egg yolks to a boil, stirring constantly with a wire whisk.

  3. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to boil 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to get into the corners of the pan.

  4. Take the pan off the heat and plunge it into the ice-water bath or, if there are lumps, strain it through a sieve into a pan or heatproof bowl set in ice water.

  5. Do not chill the pastry cream. It will be poured hot over the baked puff pastry.

Assemble the Kremówka

  1. Using a 13 x 9-inch pan as a mold, place the layer of cooked puff pastry without the scored lines in the bottom of the pan.

  2. Pour the hot pastry cream over it and then place the scored piece of baked puff pastry on top.

  3. Refrigerate until set. When ready to serve, using the prescored marks as guides, cut into 9 pieces. Dust each piece with confectioners' sugar.

  4. Serve and enjoy.

How to Store

Cover and refrigerate the leftovers, and enjoy the cake within three to four days. Keep in mind the pastry will soften and, if kept too long, it can become soggy.

Tips

  • To thaw puff pastry, place the package in the refrigerator overnight, or put it on the counter until the dough is still cold but pliable enough to unfold without the seams tearing. If it has softened too much, place it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until firm.
  • If you like a thick layer of filling, make a double batch of the pastry cream.
  • Use the leftover egg whites in another recipe like a meringue torte.
  • A very similar Polish dessert is karpatka, or Polish Carpathian Mountain cream cake, whose uneven top layer dusted with powdered sugar looks like the rugged mountainous terrain of the Polish Highlands. Two Eastern European desserts similar to kremówka are Serbian krem pita and sampita which, in the latter case, is filled with meringue.

History Behind the Name

Karol Wojtyła, who later became the cardinal of Kraków, then Pope John Paul II, and now St. Pope John Paul II, would often stop at his friend's father's bakery to purchase one or two cream cakes after school. This is where his love affair with the dessert began, and it became so well known that the cake was renamed.