A Sumptuous Recipe From Nicola Lamb

Posted on 2nd May 2024 by Anna Orhanen

In her fabulous new book SIFT, Nicola Lamb breaks down the essential elements and techniques of the art of baking and shares her best tips and hacks, along with stunning recipes ranging from roasted strawberry Victoria sponge to a salted vanilla and pistachio layer cake. We are delighted to have Nicola share one of the delicious cakes from the book with the readers of our blog. 

Plum and Mascarpone Karpatka

Serves 10-12

Karpatka, aka Polish Mountain Cake, is a choux-based cake that perhaps isn’t a cake at all. Although its origins are unclear, Karpatka seems to be a variation on the mille-feuille or vanilla slice/Napoleon (known as Krempita in Poland), but instead of puff pastry, you get wild ‘n’ wiggly, tender-crisp choux. This choux recipe deviates slightly from the norm in that it has baking powder in the base. This encourages additional lift and a pleasingly irregular shape to the final cake.


2 x 20cm round tins


Choux base

65g whole milk

65g water

65g butter

15g caster sugar

90g self-raising flour or 90g plain flour with

4g baking powder

150g–175g whole eggs (about 3)

3g flaky sea salt (about 1 tsp)

Stewed plums

250g plums, stoned

70g water

60g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod, spent (optional)

5g cornflour (about 1½ tsp)

Mascarpone custard

300g whole milk

1 whole egg and 1 egg yolk (75g total)

60g caster sugar

30g cornflour

2 tsp good quality vanilla extract

250g mascarpone, at room temp


1. For the choux, preheat the oven to 210°C/190°C fan. Make the choux according to the master choux method on page 136, adding the baking powder in with the flour if using plain flour.

2. Line the two tins with baking paper at the bottom only. Spread 200–225g of choux paste in each tin, leaving the top slightly rough and wavy and using a palette knife to help. If you only have one tin, bake one at a time.

3. Bake for 35–40 minutes until well peaked, golden and crisp. Leave to cool completely in the tins on a cooling rack, then remove.

4. For the plums, cut the plums into six. In a small saucepan, combine the plums with 50g of the water, the sugar and vanilla. Heat over a medium heat, occasionally stirring so the plums are well coated. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, reduce the heat to low and cover the saucepan with a lid. Steam for 4–5 minutes. If the plums are still firm, cook for a further 2 minutes. Mix the cornflour with the remaining water to create a slurry, then stir into the hot liquid. Bring to a bubble so it thickens. Pour into a clean container and leave to cool.

5. For the mascarpone custard, heat the milk until simmering. Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolk, sugar, cornflour and vanilla. Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture whilst whisking constantly to temper, then return the custard to the stovetop. Cook for 3–4 minutes over a medium heat until boiling, whisking the whole time. Pour into a clean container, then set aside to cool and gelatinise – make sure you put clingfilm or baking paper on the surface so it doesn't form a skin. You want it to be totally cold and firm before continuing with this recipe.

6. Beat the mascarpone until smooth – it does have a tendency to be a bit lumpy, so you just have to be prepared to work it. Once that’s ready, set aside and beat the custard until smooth and no longer jelly-like. The easiest way to do this is in a stand mixer bowl if you have one.


You can also use your favourite jam in the middle of this! Thanks to Marta Beimin, who makes the most stunning Karpatkas, for inspiring the juicy stewed plums in this recipe!


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