Because of our ridiculously and embarrassingly large collection of cookbooks, we decided when we started this challenge that if we could find an appropriate recipe in one of them, we would use it. For Estonia, thanks to the Hairy Bikers, we were spoilt for choice. Well, sort of. Having three options was less of a treat when we realised that the first was jellied pigs’ trotters (no thank you) and the second was redcurrant semolina pudding (which is probably very nice but not terribly exciting and would also involve finding fresh redcurrants). The third option of kringel, however, appealed to us much more.
Kringel is a pretzel-shaped enriched bread with raisins and chocolates and is mostly served on special occasions. Well, we were having a special occasion of sorts: some friends coming around for a wine-tasting evening, hosted by Pieroth. The wine tasting itself was just OK, with the most notable part being the discovery that our visiting wine rep was actually Estonian! This was slightly nerve-wracking at first, given that we were serving up one of her key national dishes alongside the wine, but she seemed to approve (as did we and our guests), so we must have pulled it off. Because wine and cheese are obviously such inseparable bedfellows, we made a cheddar version of the kringel as well as the traditional sweet one.
For the dough:
40g fresh yeast (or about 16g dried yeast)
1 tbsp sugar
250ml milk, lukewarm
2 egg yolks
400g plain flour
50g butter, melted
For the filling:
100g butter, softened
3 handfuls of raisins
10 tsp (also known as 50g) sugar
For the topping:
150g dark chocolate
1. Mix the yeast and sugar in a bowl. Add the milk and egg yolks, then mix in the flour and melted butter and knead well. Shape the dough into a ball, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 200C. Dust your work surface with flour. Take the dough out of the bowl, knock it back and roll out to a thickness of about 1cm. Spread the soft butter evenly over the rolled sheet of pastry, then sprinkle with raisins and finally sugar.
3. Roll the dough up like a Swiss roll (we did this lengthways) and cut it in half with a sharp knife (again, lengthways). Twist the two strips of dough around each other, lifting each half over the other in turn. Finally, shape the plaited bread into a B shape and transfer to a buttered baking tray. Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.
4. In the meantime, prepare the chocolate topping by melting the chocolate and butter in a bowl over some boiling water. Once out of the oven, let the bread cool down a bit, place on a serving plate and drizzle on the chocolate sauce. (Ash’s top tip: any leftover chocolate sauce makes an awesome hot chocolate if mixed with milk.)
For the cheese kringel, leave out the raisins and sugar and sprinkle the kringel with grated cheddar instead. Add more grated cheese on top before baking. We used roughly 150g of cheddar for this, but use as much or as little as you like. A dash of Worcestershire sauce is another optional extra.
And now for the cheese version…
Well, if even our unexpected Estonian guest thought these turned out OK, we must have managed it, even though the original Hairy Bikers recipe was a little vague in parts. The savoury version did go nicely with the wine, and the sweet version was a very enjoyable dessert. Also, once we’d consulted a few blogs and made sense of the recipe, it was pretty foolproof.
A word of warning, though: this is not diet food! The amount of butter we have consumed through eating these is quite terrifying, not to mention the chocolate and cheese. The things we do for our blog…
Up next: a Latvian breakfast treat.