Hello, all! Welcome back to those of you following, and welcome to those who are visiting for the first time!
This week we’re visiting Estonia!
Now this is a country I knew next to nothing about, other than it’s location, but all I had to do was do an image search on Estonia (I’m a visual person) and I was fascinated! And then ended up doing more research. Estonia is so interesting! And like really beautiful???
Here are some fun facts about Estonia!
1. Estonia has one “official” capital, Tallinn, but it actually has more than one recognized capital, known for other things, depending on the time of year! The city called Tartu is the “cultural capital”, Parnu is the “summer capital.”
2. About 50% of Estonia is covered in forests.
3. There are only about 1.3 million people in Estonia…that’s like half the population of Chicago!
4. Estonia could pretty much be called E-stonia, given that they are one of the most wired countries in the world. All schools are connected to the internet, you can sign documents online, even political voting can be done online.
5. Estonia has a 99.8% literacy rate. And most people are at least bilingual. The official language is Estonian, but people may also speak Russian, German, Finnish and/or English.
6. Estonia actually has over 2000 islands, most of which are uninhabited, but some still hold traces of old Viking culture.
7. Estonia has this really cool old folk song culture and has more historical folk songs on record than any other country, with 133,000 songs recorded. They are known as the “singing nation” and have a song and dance festival that attracts thousands.
Ok, I’ll stop there with the Estonian facts, the place is just so interesting! Add it to my already long list of places I want to go…If you’d like to learn more about Estonian culture and stuff, check out >>this site<<
This week, I’ve made an Estonian Kringle! “Kringle” comes from an Old Norse word “Kringla” which means “ring” or “circle.” This is a kind of braided bread, shaped into a ring. It is actually pretty simple to make, and looks fancy and tastes good! It’s traditionally made for birthdays or celebrations. I celebrated a day off work. That was my celebration.
I actually made two of these, one with the traditional cinnamon filling, and one with a pumpkin cranberry filling, because I am definitely one of those people who takes part in the pumpkin craze every time fall comes around. And I haven’t made anything with pumpkin yet this year, so I thought this would be a good time to start! 🙂
I was kind of excited about making this bread when I saw the pictures, and was hoping for some complicated braiding technique with lots of layers and stuff, but…it’s actually very simple. Which is probably actually good…it doesn’t take hours to make. That’s actually the thing I dislike the most about making breads; I get too impatient at all the rising times! This Kringle only has one rising time, for an hour, and the filling is extremely easy to make, so it’s not too bad!
Basically, to make this pretty bread ring, you need to roll out the dough, spread the filling, roll it up into a log, and then slice the log in half starting an inch or two from the top end, then twist the halves together, making sure the layers are facing outward. Shape into a ring and bake!
When researching this recipe, I saw that sometimes this bread has cardamom in the dough. I couldn’t find many recipes that actually called for cardamom, and the ones that did, I wasn’t super satisfied with. So I looked at the average amounts of cardamom and added that into the recipe I ended up using. I did not add any cardamom to the pumpkin kringle I made, and instead decided to add some ground cloves and nutmeg into the dough.
To make the traditional cinnamon filling, you mix butter, sugar, and A LOT of cinnamon. You can also mix in some ground almonds, but I decided to leave that out. For the pumpkin filling, I sort of made up the ratios. I used maybe 1/2 c. of pumpkin puree, 2 tbsp of butter, and maybe 2 tbsp of cinnamon (the traditional recipe calls for 3), and, I don’t know, a few tablespoons of sugar maybe? I sorta just grabbed some fingers full and dumped it in. Oh, and I think I sprinkled a bit of nutmeg in there too. I think next time I would cut back on the cinnamon, it kind of overpowered the pumpkin. Once I spread the pumpkin mixture over the dough, I sprinkled some dried cranberries on top. (Next time I might chop the cranberries a bit so they’re not quite a chunky. They kind of hindered getting a clean cut when slicing the roll in half.)
SO PRETTY RIGHT?!?!
Ok here are some pictures of the pumpkin one…
And of course, here are a few current events in Estonia, but I’ll do less than usual, since I already gave a buncha fun facts earlier!
-Estonia, like America, is also going through a Presidential election. However, Estonia, unlike America has FIVE possible candidates, and they had one round of voting already, and guess what. NONE of them got the required amount of votes, so….they still don’t have a new president yet. I just….Can we do that in America??? I am not satisfied with our two-party system, nor either of the candidates for this election, is it possible to just NOT elect either of them?!? IS IT?!?!!
-Estonia is now offering e-residency, which you can acquire for €100, which offers “a government-issued digital identity and the opportunity to run a trusted company online, unleashing the world’s entrepreneurial potential.” Basically, from my understanding, they’re offering digital “residency” to foreigners so they can start and run businesses in Estonia from their own locations, but using Estonian banks, hoping to boost Estonia’s economy. Since the Brexit, they have apparently had many UK nationals applying for this program.
Alright! Here is the source for the recipe I used >>HERE<<. I altered it slightly, so the recipe I’m posting is my edited version. If you’d like the pumpkin version, read the note at the end for those ingredients 🙂
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup lukewarm milk
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 15 g fresh yeast (1 envelope active dry yeast)
- 1/8 cup (30 g) melted butter
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup (50 g) softened butter
- 4 or 5 tbsp sugar
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 3 tsp grounded almonds, optional
- In a medium bowl stir fresh yeast with sugar. Stir in the lukewarm milk and then add the egg yolk and melted butter.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour, salt and cardamom. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and start mixing until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Once the dough mostly comes together, dump it onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a minute or two until it holds together. Give the dough the shape of a ball. Sprinkle oil onto a clean bowl, place the dough and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rest for about 1 hour at room temperature (warm space) until doubled in size.
- While the dough rises, whisk together the butter with sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a floured surface, using a rolling pin roll the dough to a rectangle of about 18×12 inches.
- Spoon the cinnamon filling over top (keep about 1 tbsp of the filling for the end), spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1/2-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the almonds over the cinnamon filling, if using. Roll up the dough lengthwise, and using a sharp knife, cut down the center of the roll, starting 1/2-1″ from the top end.
- Start braiding the two pieces, trying to keep the open layers exposed so the cut ends remain on top. Pinch the ends together and form a wreath.
- Transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the wreath with the left cinnamon filling.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. For the last 10 minutes you can reduce the oven temperature to 180 C (350 F). (I forgot to turn the oven down for the last 10 minutes…)
- Serve it warm as it is or with your favorite topping.
**If you would like to make the pumpkin kind I made, use the same recipe, but replace Cardamom with nutmeg and ground cloves. And here are the approximate amounts for the filling mixture:
-1/2 c. pumpkin puree
-1 tbsp cinnamon
-2 tbsp butter, softened
-3 tbsp sugar
-1-2 handfuls of dried cranberries, chopped.