Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kremówka Papieska :: Papal Cream Cake

Back in 1999, during a visit to his old home town of Wadowice, Pope John Paul II mentioned that he was very fond of the cream cake (or kremówka) that, as a child, he and his friends in school would buy from one of the bakers in the town's market after putting their money together.   The next day the entire town was arriving with kremówka, suddenly renamed Kremówka Papieska, the "Papal Cream Cake.

I have been meaning to make this cake for a couple years now, ever since running across the story and recipe at European Cuisines!  With the Beatification of Pope John Paul II coming up on May 2nd, Divine Mercy Sunday, I am finally going to try it out and thought I would share the recipe now, in case any of you would like to prepare it this weekend as well.

Kremowka Papieska - Papal Cream Cake
Source: European Cuisine

For the cake:

8 ounces butter
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons water
3 egg yolks
A pinch of salt

Grease 2 - 8" or 9" baking pans, coat with bread crumbs and set aside.  Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender.  Beat the egg yolks into the water: mix into the flour. Mix well. Divide in halves and spread/press each half to completely cover the bottom of one of the baking pans. Bake for approximately 30 minutes in a medium-low oven (325F / 160C): remove and let cool. Remove from pans when cooled.

For the custard cream:

2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
A pinch of salt
6 egg yolks

Scald the milk and vanilla. In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, salt, and egg yolks. Stir until very well blended (ideally, whisk to make sure there are no lumps). Add milk gradually. Cook over low flame, stirring constantly, being careful to scrape bottom of pan.

Bring to a boil and continue boiling for 3 minutes. Pour cream into a bowl and let cool. Stir occasionally until cold.

When the custard cream is cold, spread over one of the layers of baked pastry. (If the custard is at all runny, put one baked layer back in one of the baking pans and then do the spreading.) Top with the second baked layer. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Cut and serve (possibly with thick whipped cream on top, if you like)

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ 

I also recently ran across another variation that looks a little simpler to make, using frozen puff pastry for the dough:

Polish Papal Cream Cake

2 sheets (1.1-pound package) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1 recipe Easy Pastry Cream (see below)
Confectioners' sugar


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out each piece of puff pastry slightly to blend the seam lines. Without cutting all the way through, lightly score each pastry sheet into 9 sections. Sandwich each puff pastry sheet between two pieces of parchment paper and two cooling racks. This will keep the pastry flat but still flaky. Bake 15 minutes, remove top rack and top sheet of parchment paper. Replace rack and continue to bake until golden and crispy throughout, about 15 more minutes. Cool completely.

If you like a thick layer of filling, make a double batch of Easy Pastry Cream.

Using a 13x9-inch pan as a mold, place one layer of cooked puff pastry in the bottom of the pan. Pour hot pastry cream over it, and place second layer of cooked puff pastry on top. Refrigerate until set. When ready to serve, using the prescored marks as guides, cut into 9 pieces. Dust each piece with confectioners' sugar. Refrigerate leftovers.

Easy Pastry Cream

2 cups milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt
5 tablespoons cornstarch
6 large egg yolks (See these leftover egg white recipes.)


In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, cornstarch and egg yolks to a boil, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Reduce heat slightly and continue to boil 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to get in the corners. Take the pan off the heat and plunge it into an ice-water bath or, if you have lumps, strain it through a sieve into a pan or heatproof bowl set in ice water.

If not using the pastry cream hot as in Polish Kremówka Papieska, place a sheet of plastic wrap on the surface of the pastry cream which is cooling in the ice-water bath, and top the plastic-wrapped surface with a layer of ice cubes. Leave the ice cubes in place until the cream cools. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ • ~ 

And yet another variation can be found at Cafe Galicja, which is located in Pope John Paul II's hometown of Wadowice, Poland!

Additional recipes, to honor Pope John Paul II, can be found in the archives, as well as recipes for Divine Mercy Sunday
Pin It


  1. That video made me giggle with delight and shed tears all at the same time. While we certainly do love Pope Benedict, oh, how we miss this dear Holy Father! We are definitely making this to celebrate his beatification! In the video, the narrator said it had a shortbread crust and a puffed pastry topping but the recipe calls for puffed pastry on both ends. I wish someone from Poland could tell us which is more authentic.

    1. Hello Charlotte, I'm Polish. The traditional kremówka is a vanilla custard (egg yolks, milk, whipping cream, butter, sugar, vanilla, 3 Tbsp potato starch, 1 Tbsp flour) between two sheets of puff pastry.
      The best kremówka I ever baked was from this recipe:
      Please note: on the right top you can change the language from Polish to English.
      Smacznego! It means Bon Appetit in Polish :)

  2. I loved the video too!

    As for the crust, I am not sure! The link near the bottom of the post, to Cafe Galicja, will take you to a recipe page at a Cafe in Wadowice, Poland. It looks very similar to the first recipe (from European Cuisines) with the addition of a little vinegar. The Cafe also uses vanilla pudding mix in their recipe for the custard filling.

  3. I would love to try out that first recipe! Can any more experienced persons tell me, when it says "bring to a boil", I assume that involves raising the heat? I've never done a custard and I don't want to ruin it...

  4. Bring to boil means that you continue heating it until it starts bubbling. Since this is a custard, I would do this slowly over low or med-low heat, constantly stirring to prevent lumps from forming. Once it starts to boil (bubble) turn the heat down to the lowest setting and mix for another 1-3 minutes (depending on which recipe you decide to use).

  5. Oh, my goodness!!! Thank you for this, Jessica! This Sunday is not only Divine Mercy and the beatification of PJPII, but also my boys' First Holy Communion AND my little girl's 4th birthday. I have been trying to decide what kind of cake I would do for them. This cake will be perfect for the boys I think!

    As always you are fabulous.

  6. we are doing a little get together to celebrate the beatification with some friends. we were trying to come up with something polish and yummy to make and this sounds perfect.

  7. Charlotte asked about which recipe was more authentic...while I was in college I visited Wadowice and was served "Pope Cake" that was flaky pastry on both the top and bottom...hope that helps. :-)

  8. On the first recipe, when you say to "coat the bottom of the pan with breadcrumbs" what are you referring to? The recipe doesn't call for breadcrumbs - and I've never seen them being used that way, but I've never done much with pastries. Could you clarify?

    1. The recipe is from European Cuisine and they suggested using breadcrumbs when preparing the pan. It was the first time I've ever used breadcrumbs - I usually just grease and flour cake pans, or using a Baking Spray.

      You can read more about using breadcrumbs at Baking911:
      Butter the pan (nonstick or not), getting into all of the fluted parts and including the center tube. Then dust the entire buttered surface with fine, dry bread crumbs (the kind you can buy in a cardboard can at the supermarket or you can make yourself). Include the center tube in the dusting, too, by turning the pan on its side and slowly rotating it while you drizzle crumbs on the tube from your fingers. Invert the pan and shake out excess crumbs. Then fill and bake; when you turn the pan over, the whole cake drops right out, pretty as you please.

  9. I plan on trying this soon! Found this when I was looking up things about JP2 during the canonization but haven't had time due to college obligations..... thanks for the video and post! :)

    PS if you're looking for a blog to follow check out - 2 catholic kids just starting out our blog! and if you have any advice about getting our blog out there we'd love it :)

  10. I just made this but used a different recipe - a polish one from a pastry chef in Warsaw. It turned out wonderfully well. There are some great tips via youtube as well. ( some in Russian but the visuals are all you need)