Braided Estonian Kringel

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.

Braided Estonian Kringel

Estonian Kringel

Ingredients:

  • 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

Instructions:

  1. Mix the lukewarm milk along with the yeast, sugar, melted butter and egg yolk. Leave for 10 minutes to activate and bubble.
  2. Add the sifted flour and salt to the yeast mixture, then knead the dough and shape into a ball.
  3. 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!)
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Whisk together the softened butter, sugar and cinnamon for the filling.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown.
  11. Take out of oven and let cool for 30 minutes.
  12. Dust the finished pastry with confectioner’s sugar for a pretty finish.
  13. Enjoy!

Braided Estonian Kringel

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