Vegan Polish Cake With Strawberries

June 13, 2022
Growing up, summer meant this Polish cake was around. At the beginning of the season, my mom would top it with the first strawberries, later on, there were cherries and currants and plums towards the late summer. I can't tell why this cake is a perfect summer dessert, but it is. The soft and cloudy structure of the yeast cake melts in your mouth, and the fruit has a lot of room to shine. Then it's all topped with a perfect crumble. For a long time, I believed yeast cake couldn't be made vegan, but then with a surge of vegan chefs and restaurants in Poland, that was debunked as a complete misconception.

Vegan yeast cake rises evenly and is almost impossible to ruin. If you're new to baking with yeast and/or intimidated by the idea, it's also a great place to start. Yeast can be intimidating, but once you start to understand it, and give yourself (and this cake) time, you'll be making this summer favorite all season long!

Yeast cake needs time and a warm environment to rise, so prepare it on a day when you have plenty of time to enjoy making it. It's alive with the yeast, so be in tune with what the batter is communicating! The temperature of the milk is crucial: cold milk will kill the yeast, but so will steaming hot. I always test it with a finger. It should feel warm, but not too hot to touch.

Kneading the dough in a food processor with a hook attachment is the easiest and most time-efficient, but I saw plenty of Polish home cooks doing it by hand! It is quite a workout, so the cake tastes even better at the end!
polish cake with strawberries

Vegan Polish Cake With Strawberries

Recipe Type: Sweets
utensils YIELDS 1 cake
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  • 1 8g package dried yeast
  • 4 cups GF or white flour
  • 1 1/2 cup almond, oat or soy milk (warmed, not too hot)
  • 2 sticks vegan butter (melted and cooled)
  • 1/3 cup cane sugar
  • salt
  • For the crumble:
  • 1/2 cup GF or white flour
  • 1/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 stick vegan butter (cold)
  • 1 quart strawberries (depitted and halved)
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Directions

1. In a food processor bowl or a mixing bowl combine 3 1/2 cups of flour, sugar, warm milk and yeast. Knead for 2–4 minutes.

2. Add salt and knead for one more minute.

3. Pour melted vegan butter into the mixture and knead for 3 more minutes. The dough should be shiny, elastic and form a ball. It should easily come off the mixing hook and the bowl.

4. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl, clean the remaining bits of the batter and rub the bowl with oil. Place the dough into the oiled bowl to rise. Cover with a kitchen towel, beeswax wrap or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot in the kitchen. The dough has to double the size. It could take from 40 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on the humidity, and the outside temperature.

5. In the meantime prepare the crumble. Break the cold vegan butter into small pieces and rub it together with flour and sugar. It should be grainy with chunks and pieces of different sizes. Work fast, you don’t want your butter to melt. If it’s getting too warm you can place the crumble with the bowl in the freezer, and work through it again just before baking the cake.

6. Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a large baking dish with parchment paper. 

7. Take your yeast dough out of the bowl and stretch it on the baking dish. It will feel silky smooth and extremely pleasant!

8. Make holes in your dough with your fingers, placing strawberries into little holes. This way they will make gooey, fruity, juicy puddles once the cake bakes. Top with crumble. 

9. Place into the oven and bake for 40–50 minutes. Check after 35 minutes with a toothpick. Inserted into the cake it should come out clean. 

10. Let it cool on the rack. Once the yeast cake has cooled down you can slice it and enjoy it. It tastes best the day it’s made, fresh, moist, light and fruity, the essence of the summer on a plate! Enjoy!

Also by Ula: Late-Summer Raw Vegan Cheesecake

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Photo: Ula Czumaj


Ula Czumaj
Ula was born on the verge of summer, and that must have predestined her to always balance between places, ideas, and hobbies. Having been living a nomadic life for the last five years, she’s been infusing with different tastes, lives, cultures, languages and cuisines and lets that ooze in her writing. A lifelong yoga student, who loves sharing her passion as a teacher. Originally from Mazury, Poland, she shares her time between Canada and Europe. She can be easily bribed with a cup of genmaicha or cat snuggles.

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