Every year for Christmas I make traditional Polish gingerbread cake, and every year the day before Christmas, my girls and I curl up in my bed and read Christmas stories while waiting for our gingerbread cake to bake. Except that I’ve “upgraded” my grandma’s recipe, by using a cake mix and some spices! Now it’s so easy to make, that it leaves me more time for doing what’s most important; reading about Santa and playing the pet vet with my kids!

Because let’s face it, even though baking is a great winter pastime, sometimes in the mists of last-minute Christmas preparations its good to have a shortcut recipe, as I like to call them. And with a couple of tricks, a boxed cake can taste just like a secret grandma’s recipe!

And if you’ve never heard of “Piernik” aka, The Gingerbread Cake, it’s a traditional Polish Xmas cake, made with lots of spices and dark honey. In some families, it’s filled with a sweet prune filling, and in others it’s covered with chocolate ganache. My version is easier, and it involves much less preparation. Which is perfect with these little monkeys.

Now, I don’t use the prune filling ( although it’s pretty good) and I don’t make a chocolate ganache, instead I choose the simplest solution, that my kids love, which is decorating my cake with melted milk chocolate. Honestly, the reason why they can’t wait for the Piernik to be baked, is because they can’t wait to help me decorate it: that is, lick all the chocolate!

That’s why we read and play in my bed. Because it’s their second favorite thing to do ,on a snowy afternoon, after they’ve already played outside, and right after licking spoons fool of chocolate! Actually, to be completely honest, they always love playing in my bed, gathering their stuffed animals and pretending it’s their little vet clinic! Ever since my bedroom makeover, my bedroom is more of a mom sanctuary, but when I do let them in, they’re making the most of it!

So here’s what you’ll need for our gingerbread hack

Piernik (The Gingerbread Cake)

  • Yellow box cake mix
  • 2 eggs (as stated on the package)
  • Milk instead of water ( amount as on the package)
  • Oil ( amount as on the package)
  • 3 table spoons cacao powder
  • 1 1/2 table spoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  • Frozen cranberries
  1. Add your spices to the dry mix. Then follow the instructions of your box cake, just replace the water with milk, and add the apple compote. Bake as indicated.
  2. Once the cake has cooled down, melt chocolate chips, and pour the chocolate generously over the cake. decorate with frozen cranberries. Once you’re ready to serve it, use a knife that was dipped in hot water (otherwise that cake might crumble, because of chocolate cracking).

Now, I’m not saying you have to curl up in your bed while you’re making your Piernik, but then again, why wouldn’t you?

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