So this week (actually like two weeks but who’s counting), we explore the delicacies of Latvia!
I sorta cheated here, the actual recipe I used didn’t require any baking, instead just required a loaf of rye bread, but I still wanted to make this so I made my own rye bread and used that as the baking portion! ….I’m counting it okay?? Also, I don’t particularly like rye bread, and since I don’t typically make things I don’t like to eat, unless requested, I’ve never made rye bread until this project. So hey, learning new things right??
There were some other Latvian things I could have made that would probably fit this project a little better, but I simply did not feel as excited about those! One was “Klingeris” I believe it was called? Its Latvia’s traditional birthday celebration food. Instead of cake, they often make a sort of large spiced bread-pretzel thing. But since the last country I baked for was also a twisty bread thing, and I’ve made a bunch of other twisty bready things in the past monthish (for other occasions), I didn’t feel particularly excited to make another! There was also a savory sausage-stuffed turnover thing, but I pretty much just didn’t want to spend money on sausage, ha! Also I’ve only been attending this potluck/church group thing on Monday evenings for about a month now, and people already expect me to bring some kind of fancy dessert… And I can’t let them all down! Gotta make something on the sweet side!
I read that this Rūpjmaizes kārtojums is an “exclusively Latvian dessert” and that sounded good to me since I’m looking for traditional things to make! Although I didn’t realize until afterwards that cranberries may not be the typical filling in Latvia, and apricots, strawberries and raspberries are more common fruits…ah well. I really liked the cranberries!
So “Rūpjmaizes kārtojums” means “layered Rye bread” and that’s more or less what it is! Its layers of rye crumbs, whipped cream and jam. You let it sit for a a good few hours so the crumbs can hold together a bit better, and flavors all soak into each other. And it was surprisingly good! Rye bread, as I’m sure it is for most people, does not seem like it would go well in a sweet dessert. I don’t even like rye bread as it is, how is it supposed to work well with whipped cream and jam? Well…I don’t know, it just does. I should also mention that the bread crumbs are sweetened and seasoned a bit with sugar and cinnamon, so maybe that’s why.
The recipe I used mentioned that they used sweetened marscapone instead of the traditional filling of whipped cream. I had both on hand, and wasn’t convinced that the required amount of marscapone would be enough, so I made some whipped cream and mixed that with the marscapone, so it still had the nice creamy marscapone texture and flavor, but was nice and light thanks to the whipped cream. I also made me own cranberry jam (well…cranberry sauce) instead of buying some.
I want to attempt to describe the flavor of this to you, because it was quite unique to me. I’m not sure how to correctly convey the lovely flavor combination though but I’ll give it a whirl. Rye bread usually has a strong caraway seed flavor, and is not super sweet, right? So the bread is crumbled up into fine crumbs and then toasted in a frying pan with sugar and cinnamon for about 20 minutes until the sugar and cinnamon are fully incorporated and the crumbs are warm and toasty. I tasted a bite of the crumbs as they were cooling, and I was surprised at how lovely the sweet and spice of the sugar and cinnamon went with the caraway seed flavor. So then you layer the marscapone/whipped cream on top of the crumbs, and then a layer of jam. I think it was the cream layer that helped tie everything together. The bread crumbs have a noticeable spice bread flavor and are a bit dry, and the jam is sweet and tart and chunky, and the cream between them is smooth, mild and refreshing and mellows out the other two, but at the same time, doesn’t detract from the flavor. And the whole thing together is nice, and unique in both flavor and texture.
And now for some current events in Latvia!
-A deteriorating monument in the city of Limbazi, built for 26 soviet soldiers killed in WWII, has been removed on the grounds that it was a public safely hazard, I guess because it was crumbling. I guess Latvians also felt it was a questionable monument, since it was later discovered that some of the soldiers had killed some innocent people, and Latvia has been trying to remove itself from the Soviet legacy. Russia protested to the removal of the monument, but they did it anyway.
– This I found interesting: The Russian minorities in Latvia are feeling excluded after Latvia passed a law that you must be fluent in Latvian to be a citizen. Latvia has small pockets here and there of ethnic Russian populations, and those people tend to only speak Russian, even though they have lived in Latvia most or all of their lives. Some may be citizens and others may not, but they feel that they have lived and been successful in Latvia thus far without speaking Latvian, that this law is kind of humiliating and makes them feel like outsiders or invaders. But on the flip side, Lativan is the only official language of Latvia, and it is the only country where Latvian is spoken, and the govt wants to protect the language, and make sure all it’s citizens can speak it, as well as make sure any Russian influence is kept to a minimum.
-and since I didn’t know much at all about Latvia, I looked up some facts about Latvia. So here are some fun Latvian facts! -Latvia produces more female models per capita that almost any country in the world. Only Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania and Denmark rank higher. -Latvia’s current flag design has been in use since 1280. – The creator of denim jeans was from Latvia. -Around 20 per cent of Latvia is protected. There are four national parks, 42 nature parks, 260 nature reserves, 355 nature monuments, seven protected marine areas, 24 micro reserves and a biosphere reserve. Also 54% of the country is forest, and 10% more is bogs. -all these facts are from this site.
Aaaaand for the recipe sources! For the rye bread, I used this recipe [HERE], and for the assembly, I used this recipe [HERE]. I’m editing it a bit for the whipped cream I added in. For the cranberry jam, I just used a basic cranberry sauce recipe and used slightly less water. I’ll pose the dessert recipe first, and the bread recipe second. I’m sure you could use whichever rye bread recipe you like the best.
Latvian Layered Rye Bread Dessert
10 slices coarse rye bread (about 350g in total), slightly dried and crust removed
250g mascarpone cheese
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 bag cranberries (plus whatever ingredients you like to use in your cranberry sauce)
- Grate slices of bread on a hand grater.
- In a non-stick pan, mix breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cinnamon, and toast the mix on a medium heat for 20 minutes. Some lumps might appear as the sugar slightly melts. Keep stirring and breaking any lumps with a spatula. Set to cool.
- Mix mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons sugar, and vanilla sugar.
- Whip the heavy cream until fluffy and holds stiff peaks.
- Fold the whipped cream into the marscapone mixture until well combined.
- Divide the breadcrumbs in 3 parts, two of which are equal and one is slightly smaller in size (we’ll use it for topping).
- Divide the mascarpone mix in two parts. Divide the cranberries into two parts as well.
- NOTE: I used a medium glass serving bowl to assemble the layers in, however, I believe this is usually made in a square pan, like a baking dish, so you can cut it into slices to serve. I would probably recommend an 8 or 9″ square dish.
- Put one part of the breadcrumbs on the bottom of your bowl/dish. With a spatula or spoon, gently spread the mascarpone mix over them. Spread one part of the cranberries over the mascarpone mix to make a thin, even layer.
- Repeat with bread, mascarpone, and cranberries. Top the dessert with a thinner layer of remaining breadcrumbs.
- Cover the bowl and set it in the fridge. Chill the dessert for 5 to 10 hours.
- 3cups all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2(1/4 ounce) packages active dry yeast
- 1tablespoon caraway seed
- 1tablespoon salt
- 1⁄3cup molasses
- 2tablespoons butter
- 1tablespoon sugar
- 3 1⁄2cups rye flour
- cooking oil
- 2cups water
- In large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, salt, cocoa, yeast, and caraway seed.
- Heat and stir molasses, butter, sugar, 2 cups water and 2 Tablespoons oil until warm (about 110°-115°F).
- Add to dry mixture.
- Beat at low speed on electric mixer 1/2 minutes, scraping bowl.
- Beat 3 minutes at high speed.
- Then by hand, stir in enough rye flour to make a soft dough.
- Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead till smooth (about 5 minutes).
- Cover, and let rest 20 minutes.
- Punch down dough.
- Divide in half.
- Shape into 2 round or oval loaves on greased baking sheets.
- Brush with small amount of cooking oil.
- Slash tops with knife.
- Cover; let rise until double (45-60 minutes).
- Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove from baking sheets, place on racks to cool.