Thursday, February 21, 2013

Today, dear ones, I give you Swedish Kringle, and Russian meteorite fragments. 
The image of the fragments is to be appreciated for their preciousness, and the utterly charming presentation:  Ponder the little areas delineating the bits... does each rectangle signify a single day's collection?  Why is there a square drawn in the center of the left-hand rectangle?  Has that fragment been lent to an Aunt?  And this person, this wonderful person, who in their appreciation for these tiny star scraps, has further framed them, with a decorative double line scrabbled on the precision and regiment of the graph paper!  I could kiss this person; perhaps even if they were a scientist!

The Swedish Kringle came to me from the library, and it is a gift worth sharing!  The recipe is adapted from Pat Sinclair's cookbook Scandinavian Classic Baking, published by Pelican, 2011.  If you are at all keen to bake, acquire her marvelous book
I have made her Desert Sand Cookies, and Rhubarb Cake with Lemon Butter Sauce.  All are lovely.  Rhubarb, by the way, is beautiful plant, and a delightful way to mark time:  I planted it 5 years ago, and it has yielded but two crisps and this cake.  You feel, with rhubarb (it is delicious, also, in a salad, chopped crosswise as for celery) like you are preparing a dish in the Carl Sagan apple pie way. 
Swedish Kringle
adapted from Pat Sinclair's Scandinavian Classic Baking.
This recipe has three components: a pate brisee type crust, a pate a choux middle layer, and a simple confectioner's sugar icing.  It makes two Kringles; don't worry, you will be able to find someone to eat the second one! It can be made entirely with your hands and hand tools- making this is a quiet and tactile joy.
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup cold butter (salted is fine, but if you use unsalted butter, add a 1/4 teaspoon of salt)
1 tablespoon water
Mix this as for pie crust, with very little handling: rub or cut the butter into the dry ingredients, then add the water and mix until it comes together.  Divide this into two pieces, and shape them (by rolling, or patting) into two rectangles 3 inches wide and 10 inches long.  Place them about 5 inches apart on a baking sheet.
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter (either salted or unsalted, but add a pinch of salt if you use unsalted butter)
1 cup flour
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
Heat the water and butter in a medium saucepan until the liquid is boiling.  Add the flour; mixing briskly, cook this paste for about a minute.  Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes- it's too hot if you can't touch it.  Add the eggs; one at a time, beating energetically after each addition.  I use a stout and sturdy wooden spoon.  Lastly, stir in the almond extract.
Spread this fragrant paste over the two crusts, dividing it more or less evenly.  Don't spread it quite to the edge; leave a little margin of crust.  This puff paste will puff up, and then fall upon removal from the oven- the center will be the consistency of a dense custard.
Bake these pale oblongs at 350 degrees farenheit, for 50 to 60 minutes. Let them cool on racks while you make the icing.  Do not frost them when they are too warm; the icing will melt right off.
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract- or vanilla, or a mix of the two
a smidge of salt
2 to 3 tablespoons heavy cream
Mix the sugar, butter, extract, and salt together well- add the cream, a tablespoon at a time.  When the icing consistency is suitably spreadable, spilt it between the two Kringle, covering the tops evenly.

-with sweet regards, until our next meeting.