After having been fortunate enough to do some traveling in Europe, I’m absolutely fascinated by European desserts. While I love all things bright and colorful, often there’s just something gorgeous about a more organic, handmade pastry. I came across the idea of a “kringel” while browsing for unique dessert inspiration. This is an admittedly Americanized version that features a braided dough filled with cinnamon, sugar and ground walnuts.
I absolutely love the classic flavors in this kringel, but I also look forward to trying the more traditional Estonian version sometime soon! A close friend of the family who happens to be Estonian tells me that kringels are somewhat like chicken soup–every family has their own recipe. A more traditional recipe would likely feature amazing flavors such as cardamom and saffron. Stay tuned for that version! In the meantime, enjoy this cinnamon sugar-y goodness.
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
- 15 g fresh yeast, or 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1/8 cup melted butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 cup softened butter
- 4-5 tablespoons sugar
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
- Mix the lukewarm milk along with the yeast, sugar, melted butter and egg yolk. Leave for 10 minutes to activate and bubble.
- Add the sifted flour and salt to the yeast mixture, then knead the dough and shape into a ball.
- Put the dough into a lightly greased bowl, covered with saran wrap and set aside in a warm place. Let rise until doubled in size (about one hour). (This winter has been SO cold that I couldn’t find a warm place in my apartment. I pre-heated my oven to 150 degrees, then turned it off and put the bowl in there to rise. Worked like a charm!)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Whisk together the softened butter, sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
- Dust work surface with flour and roll the dough out to a rectangle of approximately 9 x 11 inches, with a thickness of 1 centimeter.
- Use a pastry brush to spread the cinnamon filling onto the dough, covering the entire surface. Reserve approximately 1 teaspoon of the filling to brush at the end.
- Roll the dough tightly into a log. Use a serrated knife to cut the log in half length-wise, leaving one edge uncut for a few centimeters. Twist the two halves together, keeping the open layers exposed outward.
- Once twisted, form into a circular shape, tucking the ends to hide them. Transfer to a buttered baking sheet. Brush the outside with remaining cinnamon/butter mixture. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over the dough.
- Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown.
- Take out of oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Dust the finished pastry with confectioner’s sugar for a pretty finish.