This weekend was the first time I hosted both sets of parents (mine and my husband’s) over for dinner. Adam and I have been talking about this for a while but, until recently, our 4-person dining table limited us to inviting them over one set at a time. Our new-ish large table finally presented the opportunity to make this dinner happen. I created a simple menu of various pre-dinner nibbles, an Italian-inspired main course… and a gorka cake. I was so happy to learn how to make one of our favorite family desserts (the black poodle cake being the other)! This also happens to be the most requested recipe by my Healthy and Sane readers but until this weekend I didn’t actually know it. Finally I’m able to share it with you all!!
A little visual queue to wet your appetite…
Ok, I’m guessing you’re now ready to read on. Amiright? In case this is not clear from the picture, the gorka cake (translated as “little hill” … can you see why?) is a pyramid of pasty tubes filled with sweetened sour cherries – all covered in a sour cream cream (same cream as used in the black poodle cake – it’s quite traditional). The result is an amazing combination of buttery crust, sour cherries and slightly sweetened creamy “frosting.” This cake is the reason I’m obsessed with sour cherries!
Quick note: you want the cherries and cream to really soak into the crust so it’s better to start assembling the cake a few days prior to serving. If you decide to make an impromptu gorka, definitely make sure to give it at least 3 hours once it’s all ready. It will still be delicious, I can guarantee that!
Sour cream cream (*I prepared this 48 hours before the party)
- 1.5-2lbs sour cream (low fat ok) Note: You’ll have some leftover cream if you use 2lbs of sour cream but it’s really delicious and versatile (just mix it with fruit – heaven!) and I always would rather have too much than not enough. 1.5lbs should be a solid amount though.
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar (depending on how sweet you want it; note: when you’re happy with the level of sweetness on it’s own, add a little more sugar since it will be balanced out by the sour cherries).
- 1T vanilla extract
Gently mix all the ingredients together.
Refrigerate overnight (preferably – this will allow the sugar to dissolve into the sour cream). If you’re short for time, whisk the sugar in right before pouring over cake, if some lumps remain.
Pastry dough (*I prepared this 48 hours before serving)
- 200 gram (or 14T) butter (cold)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 200 grams (approx. 1/2lb) sour cream (low fat ok)
Cut butter into little cubes, work into flour.
A dough blenderwas perfect for this job!
You want the butter to be almost like large crumbs
Now you’re ready to add sour cream
And work it in, until slowly the dough forms
Divide into 5 disks
Refrigerate for at least several hours, or overnight. You need this dough to be really cold. It will make for easier rolling.
Sour cherries filling
- Approx. 2lbs of sour cherries in light syrup (we used about 2.5 of these jars)
*Note: in Moldova, my mom used to use fresh sour cherries and soak them in sugar until they released some of their juices. Fresh sour cherries are not really available in Boston so we used the jarred variety all year round. I think it’s actually easier- saves you a step!
SO, what you do is strain the cherries from the syrup.
Let it sit there for a bit, shaking occasionally to let the liquid strain. You want the cherries to be as dry as possible so that your dough doesn’t get soggy.
Now that we have all the individual ingredients ready, let’s make cake!!! [I did this 24 hours before the party.]
**Preheat oven to 425*
Working with 1 dough disk at a time (keep the rest in the fridge, until ready to roll), on a floured surface, roll out into a thin rectangle (ideally at least the length of your serving dish)
Tightly line up cherries, single file
Wrap dough around it, just enough to cover it – then roll a bit more (if your dough is really thin, you may even do a double layer of dough over the cherries; this was not necessary with my dough).
Cut off your first pastry ”tube,” gently place on foil lined baking sheet – seam side down.
Oh and don’t forget to pinch the ends – this prevents any cherry juice from leaking out!
Repeat with remaining dough and cherries (ps – any scraps should be placed back into the fridge – combined they should make at least one more tube)! [Leave a bit of space in between each roll on the baking sheet.]
Note: don’t worry if your tubes aren’t exactly the same length – you can custom cut them when assembling the gorka.
Bake for 22-25 minutes, until golden brown.
Let cool to room temperature.
All right, we’re almost there! This is the fun part!!
Count your pastry rolls and determine how to assemble your little hill. Depending on your serving dish, you may be able to do 5-4-3-2-1 (you’ll need 15 rolls) or less. I got 10 good ones (and some scraps) so we started with just 4 on the bottom.
This is fun and easy – line up your rolls, cover with cream – repeat. Visuals…
OMG – I was drooling just taking those pictures… and getting a little giddy at this point!
Let rest at room temperature for 1 hour, then at least for 2 hours in the fridge (preferably overnight).
That’s how you do it (I promise, it’s not hard – I just wanted to be extra explicit with instructions and pictures!). Make sure the rolls are fully covered – you don’t want them to be dry. The cream soaks into them and it’s just heaven. If you have some cream left, reserve it. You may want to add more once some of it is absorbed by the dough (I did this the morning of the dinner – I made A LOT of cream (2lbs’ worth).
What happens with the leftovers? Cut them up, add some cream, mix and… have yourself a lovely snack.
Who’s ready for some gorka?!!