Zosia Ciesielska’s Tort Galaretkowy

This recipe for a Strawberry Jelly Cake is from my father’s cousin, Zosia Ciesielska, in Krakow. She was a founder member and chair of the Sybir Association there, and how I found her is another story!

Cake base

Determine the size of your cake.  The proportions below are given per 1 egg. The standard round cake tin has an 9 in (approx. 23 cm) diameter – 4 or 5 eggs are recommended.  Six to seven eggs would be required for baking in a 10-inch tin.

Ingredients per 1 egg:

  • 40 g granulated sugar
  • 30 g plain flour

A few drops of lemon juice; may add a quarter of a teaspoon of baking powder.


  • preheat the oven to about 150°C
  • prepare the cake tin: grease with butter or margarine and sprinkle with flour
  • separate the eggs
  • add 2-3 drops of lemon juice to egg whites and beat until stiff.
  • add sugar in  small quantities
  • once sugar is all mixed in, start adding yolks, one at a time, while still beating
  • finally add flour in small quantities, mixing well with a large spoon (not beating anymore)
  • when all flour is mixed in, pour the batter into the prepared tin
  • after about 5 min, raise the oven temperature to 180°C and bake for about 30-35 min. Check with a toothpick – if it comes out dry, the cake is ready.
  • switch off the oven, open the door, and leave the cake in for about 15 min.
  • take the baked cake out, take it out of the tin and cool. When cold, cut in half horizontally.


Although we call it a strawberry cake, other fruit could be substituted, such as soft peaches or good quality tin peaches, for example.  The quantity of fruit depends on the size of the cake. Get lots just in case! Strawberries have to be washed, hulled and drained; tin peaches have to be drained.


Prepare two packets of jelly (for 500 ml water each), using a little less water than recommended (this is hard to describe – experimentation may be needed!). Cool down, stirring. Once it is cool enough, place the bowl in the fridge for a difficult to describe amount of time!  Keep checking – at least an hour or so.  The consistency should be still fluid, but not liquid. If it becomes too hard, you can put the bowl in a larger one filled with hot water to soften.  Note: if cake base is small, use less jelly accordingly.


Split the cake in two. On one half (the inside part), spread a little more than half of the whipped cream, then cover it with fruit, pressing into the cream. Cover with the other half of the cake (again, inside into the cream). Cover the top with the reminder of the cream, and cover it with fruit in a pretty pattern!

Now comes the tricky part.  If you have an adjustable plastic ring, place it over the cake; otherwise use the ring from the tin in which the cake was baked. Make sure there are no gaps between the wall of the ring and the edge of the cake; by the same token, the ring’s diameter should not be smaller than the cake’s!  Spoon the partly hardened jelly overtop, smoothing it nicely. DO NOT REMOVE the ring! Put the whole thing in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours. (If you thought that the jelly may have been too runny when you covered the cake, check the fridge to see whether it is not seeping out. May want to put the cake on the cookie sheet just in case.)

Once the jelly is hardened, use a sharp, thin knife to gently separate the jelly from the ring and remove the ring.  Depending on the size of the cake, you can make a small circle in the middle and cut slices as flower petals (see pics).  If the cake is smaller, just cut the wedges from the centre.

Tillie Curran (Cykowska)

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