Monday 15 April 2013

Cinnamon-Cardamon Kringel Bread

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 (my favourite is raspberry and redcurrant) 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.

Update: I've written about this recipe for Food 52 and after re-testing it, I've updated the recipe below too.

I've combined the butter & cinnamon sugar for the filling so the layers of the roll stick together - it makes the shaping easier (as you can see below - the full set of new photos is on Food 52).

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)
1 egg

For the filling:
60g unsalted butter
40g caster sugar (or brown sugar)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp fine sea salt (or use salted butter)

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 (this can take some time).

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 in a mixer bowl and stir, then add the yeast and stir again. 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 - 75 minutes until the dough has doubled in size (you could also do this rise overnight).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface then roll out into a rectangle of 30 x 40cm (12" x 16"). Beat the soft butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt together. Spread the mixture over the entire surface of the dough. Roll up from the long side, then use a serrated knife to split the roll lengthways (it doesn't fall apart as much as the pictures - I was trying a different filling technique). 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 25-35 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)

{updated March 2014}
UPDATE 30/11/17: Just adjusted the baking time range as mine baked a bit faster.

Three more posts with cardamon or cinnamon:
Cardamon Orange Pound Cake
Apple Cinnamon Layer Cake
Super Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls


  1. Looks perfect with tea or coffee :-)

  2. Wonderful! I made a similar bread a few months ago, except that I did not use cardammom, what a great addition! I also had a bit of problem handling the dough, should have twisted a few more times. But, it's a fun recipe to make and I intend to re-visit it using your recipe...

    thank you for the inspiration.... and this was a beautifully written post

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  5. marcella cantatore16 April 2013 at 08:48

    Yum! I have seen similar bread but have never made one. Yours looks delicious. I can just imagine sitting around chatting, sipping and hacking! Mmmm - bookmarked!

  6. This looks perfect. I love the thought of slices of it smeared with butter and eaten with a good pot of coffee. It looks so lovely.

  7. Tina @foodfortina16 April 2013 at 11:14

    Ohmygoodness this looks so good, like something from an artisan bakery. Gotta love bread with a hint of spice and sweetness, oh yum!!

  8. Your recipe sounds delicious and your words are enchanting as usual, but it was the mention of Harper High that made me want to comment. I too listened to that podcast (This American Life) and I too can trace back to the moment I heard those words. I was listening to the podcast on a run and it stopped me in my tracks. It seems insane that such a huge problem is so under the radar and makes me wonder what else I don't know about. The police and teachers sound on the podcast like the true definition of "pillars of the community". I would also recommend their Kid Logic episode which has both heartrending and hilarious moments. Hope you feel on more of an even keel soon. Thanks for managing to blog.

  9. Jeni- Emma's Mum16 April 2013 at 13:29

    I tested this for Emma. It was a pleasure to make and was delicious. I was so proud of myself. I took some of it to some friends as a thank you for dinner and they kept having - just one more slice. It was such a hit! I froze some and it defrosts well.

  10. I still haven't got around to making that Ottolenghi recipe, now I have this one too - decisions decisions!

  11. This looks beautiful. I miss being near my Uni friends nearly every day, I don't think I appreciated whilst I was there how special and rare it is to be constantly surrounded by so many friends all the time!

  12. emma, i am reading your post a day after the blasts at the boston marathon. in addition i am visiting my parents in pakistan where violence, the kind that claims lives has become part of the existence of daily life. i find that many times i have cooked pakistani food, it has been on days when something bad has happened in pakistan and this metaphor of memories being woven into the bread is one that i can relate to so well.

    as always, a beautiful post!
    m x

  13. Et voilà, j'ai faim! Ça semble drôlement bon. Super recette.

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  15. So pretty! And I love cardamom in yeast bread.

  16. Aromas and foods can trigger some very strong memories - good and bad, I hope this week isn't as rough and you get to spend more time with good friends eating beautiful bread, this looks delicious in all its forms.

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  20. I think that is also the only 'This American Life' podcast I have listened to. I feel your comment about friends being far away post-university, your words have expressed exactly how I feel. I am much more used to it now and when I see those friends they have more exciting stories to tell but on quiet days I miss that 'community'.

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  22. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:17

    It is - especially with a cup of tea in the morning.

  23. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:19

    I love cardamon in these sort of things - I haven't used it a huge amount in baking generally but I'm really into it and yeasted doughs at the moment. I hope you enjoy making it if you do - do tell me know how it goes.

  24. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:20

    I need to make another one - I've run out of the ones I made testing!

  25. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:21

    I hope you enjoy making it if you do - I love shaping it, it's a beautiful dough to work with.

  26. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:22

    Ooh I bet it would be good with the flavour of coffee. Shame I'm useless at making coffee and it makes me go a bit funny (though I can drink gallons of tea and it never does anything, humph).

  27. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:22

    I'm really into slightly sweet breads at the moment, it's all I want to eat. Glad you like it.

  28. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:25

    I was trying to write about the adults and how inspiring and strong so many of them were but I couldn't get it right. It's bittersweet how often tragedy brings out human kindness and compassion that doesn't always exist. I'll have a look at the other one soon.

  29. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:26

    Ta ma x

  30. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:27

    I'm making the Ottolenghi one for my cookbook club on Monday - really looking forward to trying it again. Will tell you how it goes on Wednesday!

  31. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:28

    It's funny, isn't it - you just don't realise that it's unusual to have your friends around 24/7. Though it was exhausting at times. Going to see one of my closest friends from uni in Edinburgh in the morning though - so excited!

  32. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:34

    The Boston blasts were shocking - I saw them come through on twitter and couldn't tear myself away. I did think that it's the sort of size thing that happens all over the world regularly, as you say in Pakistan, and it doesn't get the same coverage and has become daily and normal (I guess almost like the shootings in that neighbourhood above, it becomes a sad part of the fabric of life). I always think using your hands and making food is so helpful when shocked or sad about something.

  33. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:36

    Merci Marina!

  34. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:38

    It's such a good spice for it. I wonder why it works so well with the yeasty breads - must be something in the flavour? Not sure.

  35. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:39

    It's funny how some foods collect memories more than others - this one seems to be like a magnet. I'm going to Edinburgh to spend the weekend with a friend in the morning, so that'll be lovely :)

  36. poiresauchocolat18 April 2013 at 20:43

    Same - I don't know much else about it. It's the quiet conversations, the ones where you've caught up and said all that needs to be said and are just discussing and recollecting and planning and questioning and being silly that I miss most - they're the type you can generally only have with a close friend. Though I am lucky to have a close uni friend who lives across the street from me and we do get to spend lovely time together.

  37. will certainly do so...;-)

  38. Andrea Paola Baul19 April 2013 at 12:10

    My family and I, too, love cinnamon. But unfortunately there's no way I can get cardamon here in the Philippines.
    How does cardamon taste like? What other spices come closest to its taste?

  39. poiresauchocolat23 April 2013 at 13:08

    Hmm, I'm not sure how to describe the taste - it's not really like anything else. Perhaps you could just use more cinnamon? It'd still be delicious.

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  49. this bread is so gorgeous! It is officially on my to-do list. :)

  50. Looks scrumptious! Can you make this bread with dried yeast?

  51. poiresauchocolat8 May 2013 at 15:21

    I hope you get time to try it, Sarah!

  52. poiresauchocolat8 May 2013 at 15:22

    I've only ever made it with dried fast action yeast - perhaps look on your packet to check what type it is? They usually tell you how to use it in different recipes.

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  55. I've just made this, and it is brilliant! Mine turned out a bit like your first one - the chubby edition.

    Love the flavour combination of cinnamon and cardamon, this will be a new staple!

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  64. thenaturalmetropolitan.com14 September 2013 at 21:26

    Great recipe for autumn. Reminds me of Swedish cinnamon rolls. Thanks for the inspiration to make it.

  65. So pleased you enjoyed it!

  66. Lovely! I want to make this for my family at Christmas...I've only got ground cardamom; do you know offhand what amount I should use in place of the pods? Thanks!!

  67. Is there a print button that I am missing to print the recipe? Thank you.

  68. So sorry it's taken me forever to reply - it must have slipped the net. I'm afraid I've never used ground cardamon for this so I'm not exactly sure but I think I'd start with 1/2 tsp.

  69. I'm afraid I don't have a print button at the moment. I might look into creating one actually. I guess the easiest way at the moment would be to paste it into a word document?

  70. Sliced this up and froze after day two. Later on it was revived as some killer french toast.

  71. French toast is a great idea, I haven't tried that. Thanks for telling me!

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