Polish open-faced sandwich (zapiekanka) from scratch

Polish open-faced sandwich (zapiekanka) from scratch

Before kebabs, pizzas and other fast foods came to Poland, the poles were already familiar with standing by a van, eating fast food after a night out. Zapiekanka is a polish open faced sandwich with melted cheese, mushrooms and ketchup. In its original version. There are several varieties. I’ll be making the original version, but from scratch. Like, the best zapiekanka you’ll ever have!


Making sourdough from scratch:

To make a sourdough, you need a sourdough starter.

How to make the sourdough starter?

  • Rye flour (you can use wheat flour, but I prefer the flavour of rye in the final product)
  • Water
  1. Mix a tablespoon of flour with two tablespoons of water in a container of some kind (like a glass). Keep the glass in a hot environment, like close to a radiator or on top of the refrigerator that is usually warm
  2. Second day, give the mix a good shake
  3. Third day, add a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of water. Stir.
  4. Fourth day, add a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of water. Stir.
  5. Fifth day, add a tablespoon of flour and a tablespoon of water. Stir.
  6. Sixth day, you’re ready to use the starter. It should smell really sour. If you’re not used to the smell, you’ll think it’s spoilt. It’s not. Well, technically it is, but it’s supposed to be. You can keep it in the refrigerator and feed it once a week. Fresh water and flour.

Step One to making sourdough bread

  • 25 g of starter (see above),
  • 65 g of fresh water,
  • 65 grams of wheat flour
  1. Use 25 grams of your starter, and stir it with fresh water and wheat flour in a large bowl.
  2. Cover it, and let it get started in a warm place. If you don’t live in a warm country, a trick is to turn the oven on lowest possible (say 40 degrees celsius), and then turn it off. Place the bowl in there and close. The oven will cool down but it will still be somewhat warm in there long enough for the sourdough to start going.
  3. After about 9 hours, your sourdough should really be all bubbly and smell all sourdoughy. Smells “bad”? That’s good. Smells “good”? Well, could be bad because it hasn’t really been sour enough, but could also be good because you’re not used to the “bad” smell. Don’t let me confuse you… Just leave it for 9 hours in a hot place, and you should be good.

Step Two to making sourdough bread


  • 150 grams of the sourdough from step 1
  • 250 grams of cold water
  • 300 grams of wheat flour
  • 100 grams of rye flour
  • 10 grams of salt
  • 0,5 grams of fresh yeast (to help the dough a little. You can do without yeast, but it will take longer. I’ll explain in a moment)


  1. Take everything you made in step 1, and stir in water, wheat flour and rye flour.
  2. Leave to rest for 1 hour
  3. Mix in salt, and knead the dough in a machine for 15 minutes, or by hand if you’re strong.
  4. Cut the dough into two pieces.
  5. Fold the pieces as seen in the video. Basically, flatten it out, fold in the sides and the top, like an envelope. Then turn it over, so that the other side (the smooth side) of the envelope faces you. Then, roll it out into a thick snake, using your hands, not a rolling pin. Do it with both pieces of dough.
  6. Place the dough snakes on a baking tray
  7. Let them proof in room temperature for 2 hours, if you used a little yeast in them. If you went all natural sour dough, no yeast, then let them proof for 10 hours in room temperature. If you made it all the day before and you used some yeast, then leave them in the refrigerator over night for 12 hours.
  8. Turn your oven to 250 degrees celsius. Make sure it’s really hot before you open it! Really, really hot! Like, have it on for 30 minutes to be on the safe side.
  9. Make sure there’s a tray on the bottom of the oven, also getting all hot.
  10. Put the loafs into the oven, and immediately through in some ice on the bottom tray (not the one with the breads on it). Close quickly! The ice will melt, it will lower the oven temperature temporarily, and it will make the air in there moist, all things good for your loafs.
  11. After about 30 minutes, the brad should have a nice color. When it’s getting a nice color, open the oven about 25%, and leave the loaves in there for another 10 minutes. It will give them a really nice crust.
  12. Now take out the two bread loafs, and place them on a rack to cool. It’s important to let the bread cool before you cut it, because if you cut it open right away, steam will come out of it which means it will get all dry on the inside.
  13. After about 30 minutes, your bread is ready to be eaten.

bread dough

homemade bread

Polish ketchup


  • 2 kg of tomatoes (with the green stem on!)
  • 1 small onion
  • A dash of white wine
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • Rapeseed oil
  • 1/2 dl of apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 dl of sugar
  • Two pinches of salt
  • About 10 Sichuan pepper corns (they have a tingly feeling to the tongue, and make the ketchup more exciting)
  • 1 corn of allspice


  1. To make the tomatoes easy to peel, remove the green stem (but save it!), and put the tomatoes into boiling water for about 1 minute. Prepare a bowl with ice cold water, ice and salt. The salt will make the water reach bellow zero if you’re lucky. Now drop the tomatoes into the bowl of ice water. The peel will come right of, you can peal them with your fingers.
  2. In a dry pan, fry the Sichuan pepper to release flavours.
  3. Finely chop onion and garlic
  4. In a mortar, crush the fried Sichuan peppers and the allspice.
  5. Pour some oil into a large saucepan, and heat it up on medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic. Let it fry for a couple of seconds. Then add a dash of white wine.
  6. Add the roasted and crushed spices.
  7. Peal the tomatoes and put them into the saucepan. Crush them up a little, and cover with a lid. Let it simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes.
  8. Now it should all be soft. Use a hand mixer to mix it all upp into a sauce.
  9. Run the sauce through a sieve, and drag a spoon along the inside of the sieve so that you get out all the juices and the most fine pulp. Don’t forget to scrape the bottom of the sieve to really get the fine pulp into the saucepan.
  10. Now you have a fine and smooth sauce in the saucepan. Let it boil gently until it reduces by about 50-75%. So less than half of the sauce should be left. Now it’s thicker and more flavoursome.
  11. Add vinegar, sugar and salt. That’s the thing with ketchup, it’s full of sugar, vinegar and salt, and that’s what makes it ketchup.
  12. Put it into a squeeze bottle and keep it in the refrigerator. It will firm up when cold, so don’t worry if it’s too liquid as is.

Fried mushrooms and mushroom butter


  • 500 grams of dark chanterelles (or light chanterelles or completely different mushrooms if you prefer that)
  • 150 grams of butter
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • A handfull of chives


  1. This step isn’t necessary but it simplifies things and make it all more tasty. Let the mushrooms dry for a couple of days. Just place them on a cloth and wait. You know when you fry mushrooms and first they start boiling in all the liquid they release? You won’t have that. If you refuse to dry them, then one trick is to fry them in a pan before you add butter, and let them dry up in there. Anyway…
  2. 50 grams of butter into a hot pan. Let it melt until it no longer makes a sizzling sound
  3. Add all the mushrooms, and stir. Let fry for a few minutes. Like 5.
  4. Put half the mushrooms into a chopper/mixer, add 100 grams of fresh butter, a pinch of salt, some freshly ground black pepper and a handfull of chipped chives. Mix. Mix until it’s all mixed up into a chunky mushroom and chive putter paste.
  5. Place the butter paste on some plastic film, and roll it tightly into a butter sausage. Place in refrigerator to firm it up, and to let the butter suck up all the flavours.
  6. Ok, you’re done with the butter. Can be used any way you want. I’ll use it on the zapiekankas.
  7. For the other half of the mushrooms, just add salt and pepper, and they’re good to go

mushroom butter

Making the zapiekanka with all these ingredients

  • Half a loaf of bread
  • Fried Mushrooms
  • Mushroom butter
  • Cheese (one that melts nicely, like a good Swiss cheese)
  • Ketchup
  1. Cut the bread in half along the short side of the bread. Like, you’ll have two somewhat flat and long pieces of bread.
  2. Spread a lot of mushroom butter on them.
  3. Add thick slices of cheese
  4. Top with friend mushrooms
  5. Into a hot oven for a few minutes until the cheese has melted
  6. Take out your open sandwiches, all melted and nice, and top with chopped chives and a lot of that good ketchup you made.
  7. You have yourself a zapiekanka! Drunk poles eat it in the evening from zapiekanka stands and who can blame them?