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Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you. We're looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and michiganradio.org. We'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

Cake, shortbread, or pastry? Mazurek is all that, and more

As part of our Your Family Story series, we’re collecting recipes that have been passed down within families. Send in your mother’s, grandfather’s, or cousin’s famous recipe for goulash, pozole, dumplings or any dish that your family has enjoyed.

We’re collecting recipes until midnight tomorrow. We’ll publish all the recipes. The winner will be chosen by the Changing Gears team. They’ll collect a grab bag of public radio goodies. Share your traditional family recipes here, and tell us a little bit about the story behind the dish.
Today, Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard shares this recipe for Mazurek:

My father’s family, which is of French descent, has been in the United States for many generations, settling primarily in Massachusetts. But my mother is a first generation American. Her family came to the United States around 1905. Her father hailed from what was known then as Byelorussia --- present day Belorus, sometimes also called White Russia.

My mom learned European dishes from her mother and New England recipes through my dad, so we enjoyed a varied menu at home. I’ve always heard my mother say what a good cook my grandmother was. But, I didn’t know until this year that my grandmother was co-owner of a bakery in Grand Rapids. The Northwestern Bakery stood on Leonard Street, although the building is no longer there.

Each Easter, my family gathers for brunch, and Mazurek (pronouncd mah-ZUR-eck) is always the last dish that is served. We sit over coffee and tea and enjoy this dense, rich pastry, very much like a soft shortbread. My mom was always the Mazurek baker, until she offered to teach me. She also shared the recipe with my brother, who baked the Mazurek that you see above.

Want to add Mazurek to your repertoire? Follow this recipe.

For the shortbread base:
2 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg, beaten
3 Tbsp cream or half & half

Sift the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. In a separate small bowl, mix egg with the cream. Add it to the flour mixture. Mix lightly (it may be a little sticky). Spread the mixture in a buttered glass or ceramic pie dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until baked, but not brown.

1/3 cup almond paste (more, if desired)
1/3 cup raspberry jam
1/3 cup apricot jam
candied fruit, if desired

Allow the base to cool until slightly warm. Spread the almond paste on the base (thin it with a little milk if needed to make it pliable). Decorate the top with the apricot and raspberry jam — you can create quadrants with each flavor, and separate them with almond paste borders, or drop the jam in spoonfuls. Add candied fruit if desired.

Mazurek keeps well in the refrigerator for about a week; you may also freeze it. Warm it briefly in the oven or microwave if desired, but take care not to melt the jam.

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