Kliņģeris (Latvian yellow bread)

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Overview
This is traditionally made for celebrations like birthdays, names days, holidays etc. It is usually served with a dusting of slivered almond and icing sugar and twisted into a pretzel-like shape after being braided. When not needed for a big celebration, it can just be braided and baked like a loaf. I prefer to make 2 smaller ones than one giant one, unless I was catering for a crowd, which is something we hardly ever do (especially during a pandemic lockdown, which is why I’m typing up recipes!!). Another option is to use ⅔ for the main Kliņģeris and use the rest to make a braided loaf (main picture).

This one was slightly undercooked

There are many variations of this out there – most families would have their own version. We never really did much with these, so I’m starting!! Some are more bread-like, others have different fruits, or soak the fruits in alcohol, but I prefer a sweeter bread with less fruit. That said, do what you like! (Apologies – mine in the side photo is a little undercooked!)

Time
This needs 3 opportunities to rise, so it’s a slow morning’s worth of work where most of the time is spent waiting. Allow 3-4 hours to make one of these.

Ingredients
¼ cup warm water
1 ts sugar
2 TB yeast
500ml warm cream
7-7½ cups of flour (3½ at the start, then another 3½-4 later)

250g softened butter
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks

¼ cup boiling water
½ ts saffron, crumbled

1 orange, juiced and zested
1 lemon, juiced and zested
½ ts ground cardamom
½ ts salt

1 cup raisins (more if desired, other fruits can be used)
½ cup flaked almonds

Equipment
A stand mixer is really helpful, but this can all be done by hand.

Method
1 – Combine warm water, sugar and yeast in a cup. Leave 10 minutes to bubble up.

2 – Crumble saffron into ¼ cup boiling water. Leave to steep.

3 – Combine warm cream with yeast mixture. Add 3½  cups of flour and mix well. Leave to rise for 30 minutes.

4 – Whip the butter and sugar with the eggs (I use a stand mixer).

5 – Add the risen dough. Mix again.

6 – Add zest, juice (about ½ cup total), saffron with water, cardamom, salt and raisins. Mix thoroughly.

7 – Add remaining flour, mixing as you go. Mix until the dough is smooth. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled.

8 – Knead on a floured bench until smooth and elastic.

9 – Prepare a large baking tray, or 2 normal ones. Line with Glad Bake.

10 – Divide the dough in 3. Roll each piece into a long, tapered strand. Place 2 over the third to make an asterisk, then braid towards each end. Twist into the pretzel shape, tucking the ends in. Place a glass or jar in the ‘holes’ so that they won’t close up. (If using 2 trays, simply braid one and leave it in a long log.)

11 – Brush with eggwash and scatter with flaked almonds. Leave to rise again.

12 – Preheat oven to 180° C

13 – Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown. Turn off the oven and leave for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on tray; dust with icing sugar to serve.