Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Baltic Christmas Day 13 - Kanēļmaizītes

Today on Day 13 of 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas we are joined by Ilze Ieviņa! Ilze has previously contributed to the series with her post on the Rīga Christmas market, and today joins us with a favorite recipe from the Latvian sweets table...

Kanēļmaizītes – a Latvian Christmas Treat

The English-speakers know them as cinnamon rolls and love to top them with icing. The Swedes call them kanelbulle and have set aside a day (the 4th of October) for celebrating this sweet roll. The North Germans have crossed them with croissants and named them Franzbrötchen.

We Latvians certainly have no claim to the invention of the cinnamon bun, but over the centuries kanēļmaizītes have become a staple of our national cuisine. They are especially beloved around the Christmas time when they can be found on the table at almost every house. The typical Latvian way of making cinnamon rolls is simple and sticks to the basics. There is no glaze or icing, no special spices aside from the cinnamon. Likely it's this down-to-earth approach that in my very subjective opinion makes them taste better than any of their cousins across the globe.

* This recipe is adapted from my favorite Latvian cooking site Četras Sezonas.

Step 1: making the yeast dough
1.5 oz. fresh yeast (2.5 US cake portions)
1¼ cups warm milk
approximately 4 cups wheat flour
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. oil (I use sunflower or grapeseed)

Crumble the yeast in a small bowl, add one teaspoon sugar & one teaspoon flour followed by two tablespoons of warm water, and mix well. Leave the mix in a warm place to “wake up” the yeast. This will take 10-30 minutes. You'll know that the yeast is ready when it starts to form bubbles and rise.

Meanwhile heat up the milk. When the yeast is ready, transfer it to a large bowl and add the warm milk, as well as sugar and salt. Mix well. Stir in the flour with a spoon to make the dough then continue kneading with your hands.

After you have kneaded for a few minutes, add the oil (this also helps to get that dough off your hands). If the dough becomes too sticky, you can add a bit more flour.

Finally, roll the dough in a ball and leave it in a warm place to rise for around 2 hours.

The resulting dough will suffice for two pans of cinnamon rolls. It also makes a great base for Latvian pīrāgi, thus I usually make one pan of each.

Step 2: making the kanēļmaizītes
yeast dough
butter, softened

Take around half of the yeast dough and roll it out in a large rectangle. Butter the surface and sprinkle generously with cinnamon and sugar.

Starting from the edge of the longest side of the rectangle, tightly roll the dough. Cut the roll in approximately 0.6 inches large pieces (as thick as your thumb) and place them on a sheet of baking paper.

If you wish, you can add a dollop of butter on top of each cinnamon bun before baking it.

Bake at 400°F / 200°C for approximately 15 minutes until golden brown.

P.S. Despite being someone who prefers precise measurements in her recipes, making kanēļmaizītes is an exception. The amount of butter, cinnamon and sugar is entirely up to you but you will need at least a tablespoon of each. You can also replace cinnamon with poppy seeds to create another Latvian specialty.

Experiment, have fun and enjoy the fantastic aroma and taste of Latvian Christmas!

Ilze is a social researcher and an intercultural trainer, a mom and a blogger. Originally from Latvia, her path of education brought her to Northern Germany where she met her future husband and decided to stay for a little longer. Ilze blogs about her adventures in expat life, as well as trilingual and multicultural parenting at Let the Journey Begin. She can be found on facebook and Instagram

Thanks for joining us today on 24 Days of a Baltic Christmas, and we hope you’ll return tomorrow for a foray into the world of ancient Baltic artifacts...

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