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Kringle is the Danish word for "pretzel," the configuration in which thecoffee cake of the same name was originally made, but oval has been thefavored shape for about the past eighty years. It's an exceptionally fine coffeecake, made of many feathery layers of danish pastry, usually filled with choicepecans, shaped into a large, flattened oval, and baked to a flaky golden brown.The final touch is a drizzle of white icing. The result is so splendid it defiesdescription. Danes believe good luck will come to those presented with kringle on their birthday breakfast tray.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water (95 to 110 degrees F)
1/4 cup lukewarm milk (95 to 110 degrees F)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 2/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 large egg white
2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon water
1. Mound 6 tablespoons of the butter onto each of 2 plates and set aside to soften. Shape one mound into a ball, center it on a sheet of waxed paper, and cover with a second sheet of waxed paper. Using a rollingpin, push and roll the butter out into a smooth 8 X 6-inch rectangle. Set in the refrigerator. Repeat the process with the other mound of butter. Chill until cold, about 30 minutes.
2. Dissolve the yeast in the water in a large mixing bowl. Let proof until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add the milk. Stir in the sugar, salt, lemon extract, and egg. Add the flour, 1/3 cup at a time, to form a stiff dough.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it feels very smooth, about 5 minutes. Add extra flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Shape the dough into a flattened disk and wrap completely in plastic wrap. Refrigerate along with the sheets of butter until the butter is sufficiently cold.
4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out into an 8 X 12-inch rectangle. Peel the waxed paper from one of the chilled sheets of butter and center the butter lengthwise on the dough (so that the smaller rectangle of butter is centered atop the larger rectangle of dough). Fold the short end of the dough one-third of the way over the rectangle, then fold the opposite end over on top to cover completely. Starting with the short end of the folded envelope of dough, repeat the 2 folds in the opposite direction. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5. Return the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out again into an 8 X 12-inch rectangle. Peel the waxed paper from the remaining sheet of cold butter, center it lengthwise on the dough, and fold up in both directions exactly as before. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 12 hours.
6. For the filling, cream the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a medium-size bowl. Stir in the flour and egg white, mixing into a smooth, soft paste.
7. Cut the chilled dough in half crosswise, for 2 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 piece out into a 20 X 6-inch rectangle. Spread half of the filling lengthwise down the center of the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border on each side, and sprinkle 1 cup of the pecans on top. Fold the long side of the dough over to the middle to cover half the filling. Moisten the edge of the opposite side with water and fold over the filling, overlapping the dough to seal.
8. Place the filled dough on a nonstick baking sheet, seam side up, and shape it into an oval ring. Moisten and press the ends together to seal. Flatten the dough evenly with your hand, maintaining the oval shape. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Roll out the second piece of dough, spread with the remaining filling and pecans, fold up, shape into an oval ring on a second baking sheet, and cover. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
10. Bake the coffee cakes, one at a time, for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.
11. For the icing, combine the confectioners, sugar and the water in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
12. Remove each coffee cake to a wire rack to cool. Drizzle with the icing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 2 coffee cakes
New York-Style Charlotte Russe
Made of a layer of light sponge cake smeared with raspberry filling and topped with a big mound of stiffened whipped cream, Charlotte Russe is kid bliss! But this dessert is simply too good for kids of any age to pass up. Grown-ups will appreciate a drizzle of fruit liqueur.
3/4 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1/4 cup cold water
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons water
About 1/4 cup Raspberry Filling (see page 117), seedless raspberry jam, or sieved raspberry preserves
Whipped Cream Topping
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1/3 cup superfine sugar
6 maraschino cherries (optional, for garnish)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease six 10-ounce custard cups or ramekins and place them on a baking sheet.
2. Prepare the cakes by sifting the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium-size bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat the egg yolks in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually pour in the cold water, then slowly add the granulated sugar, mixing until completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extract, if desired. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and sift in the flour mixture. Fold with a rubber spatula.
4. In a medium-size mixing bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar with clean beaters until stiff and shiny peaks form. Thoroughly fold into the yolk mixture.
5. Divide the batter equally among the cups and smooth the tops evenly. Place the cups into the oven on the baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes, until the centers are springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cakes to room temperature in their cups on a wire rack.
6. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon syrup. Combine the granulated sugar, lemon juice, and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil for 1 minute and remove from the heat. Allow to cool to room temperature.
7. When both have cooled sufficiently, brush the cakes with the syrup to glaze and spread a thin layer of raspberry filling over each.
8. For the topping, combine the gelatin and water in a heat-resistant dish. Set aside for 5 minutes, then heat in a microwave oven at full power for 30 seconds to liquefy. Set aside until cooled to room temperature but not yet set, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vanilla.
9. Whip the cream using an electric mixer at medium speed, gradually adding the superfine sugar. When thickened, scrape in the gelatin mixture. Continue to beat to form stiff peaks.
10. Spoon the cream equally over the cakes, shaping the top of each charlotte into a peaked cone with a metal spatula. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
11. Garnish with a maraschino cherry perched on the tip of each cone, if desired.
Yield: 6 servingsThe Neighborhood Bakeshop. Copyright © by Brian Jacques. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.