Monday, 15 April 2013
Every time I make this bread, two memories pop up.
The first time I tested this idea, I was listening to the radio online. Someone had linked to the programs - I think on twitter - and I'd clicked though, curious. As they describe, "We spent five months at Harper High School in Chicago, where last year alone 29 current and recent students were shot. 29. We went to get a sense of what it means to live in the midst of all this gun violence, how teens and adults navigate a world of funerals and Homecoming dances." It's split into two halves: Part One and Part Two. Guns and gun crime weren't even on my radar as a child or teenager. I know nothing else about the show but the programs have stayed with me.
It's not just the words or their lives that have stayed with me, but the way I felt, listening quietly as I wove the dough together. It's as if I entwined my heavy heart into the recipe and I can't disentangle the strands.
Then, before I went out to Switzerland a few weeks ago, a few of my friends came to stay to celebrate a friend's birthday. I'd made the bread a few times in the weeks after listening to the radio and I wove it together again, taking the series you see below, the morning everyone was arriving. I ran out of time to bake it and had to throw it into the fridge to rise overnight. We ate it for breakfast the next day, hacking off slice after slice as we drank our tea and chatted.
I miss having lots of good friends in Oxford. All but one of my friends from university have moved away and are spread out over the UK. I miss the community of university, even though I know it wasn't as rosy as my memory tells me. It was so good to spend that weekend talking for hour after hour after hour - to get past catching up on the basics of our new lives and onto other stories, onto childhood memories and new questions.
So now the bread is infused with two very different - but both strong, both emotionally evocative - memories.
Tip dough out onto a floured surface / Coax into a square / Roll out into a rectangle / Smear with butter and sprinkle with sugar and spices/
Roll up from the long side / Cut carefully into two / Weave the strands together, cut side up / Pull round into a circle, weave the ends together and seal.
This recipe started with Ottolenghi's Chocolate Pecan Krantz Cake. As I mentioned in that post, I wanted to try a cinnamon roll version using the shaping technique but changing the recipe. When I got around to making it, I added cardamon and I decided to try and loop it around into a circle.
My main problem was trying to get the baking right - the first time I underbaked the loaf and I slightly burnt the edges twice. In the end I settled on a high starting temperature then a decrease for the rest of the baking time, which seems to work well.
After making a few versions, I saw a very similar idea on Pinterest and discovered that the loaf has a name and a history. It's called a kringel and it comes from Estonia. I first saw the pictures from this post, which I followed to this one.
Every time I make it, it looks a bit different - here's a blurry picture of my first loaf. The other reason the two photos above look a bit different is that I was experimenting with spelt flour. Both of the times I tried spelt, the dough was wetter and didn't rise as much. I think I prefer the texture of the loaf made from normal bread flour, though that might just be because it's what I'm used to. The photo below shows a slice of both loaves - the spelt is on the bottom (the normal one is only part of a slice). I might fiddle a bit more with the spelt version - I do quite like the flavour.
This bread has become one of my favourite breakfasts. I particularly like it toasted with some salted butter. Sometimes I even add a slather of jam or marmalade.
The past few weeks have been a bit rough and I know a few things have been a bit erratic (especially replying to emails and posting on time). Hopefully things will calm down now I'm back in Oxford and I'll get back into a rhythm.
Cinnamon-Cardamon Kringel Bread
(no specific source but owes general sweet bread knowledge to Peter Reinhart and Signe Johansen)
For the dough:
250ml whole milk
75g unsalted butter
450g strong white flour
70g caster sugar
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
10 green cardamon pods
7g fast action yeast (normally 1 packet)
For the filling:
60g unsalted butter
40g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Take the butter out of the fridge for the filling to let it soften. Put the milk and butter for the dough into a small pan and heat over medium until the butter has melted, then turn up and scald (bring just up to the boil). Pour into a bowl and pop into the fridge to cool. Crush the cardamon pods with the side of a knife and remove the seeds, then finely grind the seeds. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cardamon and yeast in a mixer bowl and stir. Beat the egg up lightly in a bowl. Once the milk has cooled to body temperature, add it and the egg to the bowl. Stir until you have a shaggy dough then put on the machine and knead with the dough hook for 4-5 minutes until the dough comes away from the sides and passes the windowpane test. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise for about 45 minutes until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch the dough down on a lightly floured surface then roll out into a rectangle of 30x40cm. Stir the sugar, cinnamon and salt together. Spread with the soft butter then sprinkle the sugar/cinnamon/salt mix over the top. Roll up from the long side, then use a serrated knife to split the roll lengthways (it doesn't always fall apart as much as the pictures). Transfer to a sheet of baking parchment (I forgot to do this during the photo series above - if you do too, just carefully lift it onto the paper later). Weave the two strands together with the cut side up. Bring the ends together then press together to make a ring. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 30 minutes until puffy (if you press it with a finger, it should make a dent). You can also place into the fridge overnight to rise slowly - take out to warm up ten minutes before baking.
While it rises, preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Use the parchment to shift the ring onto a tray. Put into the oven and bake for ten minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160C/320F. Bake for 30-40 minutes until the ring is risen, deep brown and sounds hollow when knocked. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Keeps fresh for a day, toasts for a few days, freezes well.
(Makes one large loaf)
Three more posts with cardamon or cinnamon:
Cardamon Orange Pound Cake
Apple Cinnamon Layer Cake
Super Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls