🇪🇪 Estonia: Kringel

There are many versions of this famous holiday dish, but the Estonian Kringel features raisins, almonds, and powdered sugar to assure it is the perfect dessert on your table!

When I was growing up in Estonia, Kringel was traditionally served as a dessert during the holidays. Many versions of Kringel exist – some people make their Kringel savory by adding ingredients such as ham and cheese in place of the cinnamon-sugar mixture, while others add apple slices, chocolate (or vanilla) sauces, or maple syrup to make it even sweeter. Whatever the filling, your Kringel should come out fluffy and buttery! I always loved it as a birthday cake as the recipe results in plenty for everyone. Eating it with some coffee or tea guarantees that you will enjoy your Kringel! Head isu (bon appétit in Estonian)!”

– KRISTJAN PRIKK, AMBASSADOR OF ESTONIA

🇪🇪 Estonia: Estonian Kringel

Prep Time 3 hrs
Cook Time 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 5 tsp active dry yeast (if using fresh yeast, then 1.8 oz)
  • ¾ cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup slightly warmed milk
  • 6 ½ cups all-purpose flour sifted. (Use slightly less for a moister dough; slightly more for a drier dough).
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch saffron threads soaked in warm liquid beforehand (you can use ¼ cup of the milk already in the recipe for soaking)
  • 4 eggs room temperature
  • 1 ¾ sticks butter softened

Between Layers of the Dough

  • 1 stick butter melted
  • 2 cups raisins soaked in water for at least 3 hours (they keep the Kringel moist)
  • sugar
  • cinnamon

For Basting the Top of the Kringel

  • 2 eggs beaten

Toppings

  • powdered sugar
  • sliced almonds or other nuts

Instructions

  • If using fresh yeast, combine the yeast with approximately 1-2 teaspoons of sugar into a small amount of warm water, then mix it with the warm milk. Sift the flour into a bowl, then add the milk-yeast mixture. Add salt, cardamom, saffron, and the rest of the sugar.
  • If using dry yeast, let it activate in a bowl with water and sugar per manufacturer’s instructions, then add warm milk, salt, cardamom, saffron, and the rest of the sugar. Add in sifted flour.
  • Mix in the eggs one by one, then add the softened butter. Knead the dough until it clumps and easily pulls away from the bowl and hands. Shape into a ball and let it rise in a warm place (in the bowl under a towel) for 1.5-2 hours.
  • Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately ¼ – ⅜ inch thick and roughly 25 x 15 inches.
  • Spread butter on the bottom two-thirds of the dough lengthwise.
  • Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl and spread an even, thin layer on top of the buttered portion of the dough.
  • Top the dough with the soaked raisins.
  • Fold the unbuttered top third of the dough onto the middle buttered third.
  • Then roll over to cover the final buttered third.
  • Cut the resulting three-layer dough lengthwise into three strips, placing them so the cut surface is face-up.
  • Braid them together (keeping the cut surfaces facing up). You can try pinch the cut surfaces together so that the raisins, sugar and cinnamon stay between the layers. Start braiding from the middle out towards each end. When braided in this way, the ends of the braid stretch thinner than the middle part, thus forming a more symmetrical Kringel.
  • Fold the braid in a circle and let sit in a dry place and rise for 30 minutes.
  • Baste with beaten egg (it gives the Kringel a nice, glossy surface), sprinkle with sliced almonds or other nuts if desired.
  • Bake at 395°F on the middle rack of the oven for 30-35 minutes until the Kringel is brownish-golden on top. In the case of a very thick Kringel you can check if it's done by inserting a toothpick in the center after removing the Kringel from the oven. If the Kringel is properly done, the toothpick comes out clean (without any dough sticking to it). If the toothpick doesn’t come out clean, then bake a further 3-5 minutes.
  • Allow Kringel to cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar (hot Kringel melts it too quickly).
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