In May this year, it was our turn to host the annual Eurovision Party. This involved lots of themed eating and drinking whilst watching the delayed broadcast on SBS. Denmark was the host country so for a main course I made the utterly delicious Venison Pie with requisite EU stars on top. I also made a sweet yeasted Danish Christmas Kringle for dessert but didn’t post the recipe at the time, preferring to save it until the festive season.
roast figs sugar snow
The recipe is from Diana Henry’s book ‘roast figs sugar snow‘ which I picked up on a remaindered table several years ago. I love this book for so many reasons. It’s all about Winter cooking, something we don’t have an awful lot of here in Brisbane. They say the grass is always greener or in this case the snow is always whiter. I love nothing more than to flick through the pages and read about rich, hearty recipes full of seasonal produce that you are never likely to see here and dream of dark days, snow on the window pane and warming dishes in the oven. I also like the slightly eccentric way the book is divided into groups of ingredients rather than the traditional entrée, main, dessert. In ‘Ripe & Ready’ you can find recipes for Fondue Savoyard alongside Russian Curd Cheese Pancakes w Plum Compote and in ‘Apples In The Attic’, West Country Pot Roast Chicken w Apples & Cider vies for attention with Peasant Girls in the Mist. There is a lovely introduction at the start of each chapter, explaining inspiration for the section and background about many of the recipes.
But the reason I love this book most of all is in the title itself. Sugar Snow. In the preface of the book, Diana quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘Pa came in, shaking the soft snow from his shoulders and stamping it from his boots. ‘It’s a sugar snow’, he said.’ In primary school I read a few of the Laura Ingalls Wilder novels about her prairie homesteader life in the late 19th Century and have since re-read the entire series. This quote is from Little House in The Big Woods and goes on to explain how the sap from the maple trees is boiled and then thrown onto the clean, fresh snow to become a maple toffee. I remember that section very distinctly from my primary school days. It seemed so exotic that you could boil syrup to throw onto snow. I was delighted to see that the same story had stayed with someone else all of these years and inspired a book title.
My Kingdom For A Cranberry
You can get many different versions of cranberries in Australia but what you cannot get is a fresh cranberry. They are native to North America which for the most part prevents them from being imported here. They are freely available in the UK and the last time I visited the USA, they were positively taunting me in huge bags at bargain basement prices. There are one or two wholesalers who sells frozen cranberries but not one of them responded to my enquiries. Therefore, I had to be imaginative with my filling. The original filling includes dried cranberries (sweet) and fresh cranberries (tart). I substituted the fresh cranberries for Middle Eastern barberries I had bought for Ottolenghi’s Lamb Meatballs.
You should be able to get barberries at most Middle Eastern Grocers. I also added an apple to give bulk. Despite the substitutions, the Kringle proved very popular. Though it may look sweet, it is not overly so, due to the sweet tartness of both berries.
Danish Christmas Kringle w Cardamon
(adapted from Diana Henry)
- 2 x tspn dried yeast ( 2 x 7g packets)
- 2 x tbsp caster sugar
- 75ml warm milk
- 250g plain flour
- 90g butter, melted
- 20 cardamon pods, seeds crushed
- pinch of salt
- 1 x medium egg, beaten
- 90g butter, softened
- 4 x tbsp brown sugar
- 30g slivered almonds
- 1 x small green apple, peeled & roughly chopped into small medium dice
- 20g barberries, soaked in 1 cup of warm water
- 20g dried cranberries
- 1 x egg, beaten
- 15g flaked almonds
- 3 x tbsp white or raw sugar
- 50g icing sugar
- lemon juice and water (optional)
- Mix yeast with 1 x tspn sugar and add some of the warm milk. Cover and leave in a warm place for 15 minutes to activate the yeast so it is frothy.
- Place the flour, salt, crushed cardamon seeds and rest of the sugar into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture, melted butter and beaten egg. Gradually bring the flour into the centre and start to combine, adding remaining milk a little at a time (you may not need it all – the dough should be soft but not too sticky).
- Mix the dough and then knead well for a few minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, loosely cover and set aside in a warm place to allow the dough to double.
- Discard any excess water from the barberries and combine all filling ingredients together in a different bowl and set aside.
- When the dough had doubled (normally around an hour), knock it back and roll out on a lightly floured surface into a strip measuring approx 85cm x 10cm. Spread the filling down the centre then fold in the two long side on top of one another so you have a long parcel.
- Lightly butter a baking sheet and place the dough on it. Shape the ends around to form a pretzel shape and tuck the ends underneath. If this is too difficult, form into a circle and seal the ends to each other. Cover lightly and allow to prove whilst the oven heats to 200c.
- Brush the top of the Kringle with beaten egg and sprinkle with flaked almonds and white/raw sugar. Bake in oven for 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown.
- When cool, dust with icing sugar or, mix icing sugar with a little water and lemon juice to create a thing icing and drizzle over the Kringle.
Serves 10 – 12
I think this goes best with some pouring cream to cut through the tart flavours but you may have other ideas. Ice cream is perfectly acceptable but I would draw the line at custard, despite the fact I enjoy it, it’s just not right for this dish.