On this blog, I have already included a number of Latvian recipes that I have made many times over the years: for example Klingeris (Latvian Birthday Cake) and Kaposti (Latvian Sauerkraut). I remember a number of people commenting on the fact that I didn’t put saffron into my Klingeris. Why? Basically because the recipe handed down to me from my mother did not include saffron.
Well, today I used a new recipe that DOES include saffron. The internet author says: “If baked in loaf form, it is known as Dzeltenmaize (yellow bread). If formed into a pretzel shape, it’s called Klingeris”. Well, I will vary from that opinion in that my Latvian Birthday Cake will always be made without saffron.
Dzeltenmaize is often served at Easter which is why I made it today, in readiness for the upcoming weekend. It came out pretty, light and airy in texture and quite delicious! Time consuming – yes. But no way around that when working with yeast dough.
I changed a few things from the original: with the addition of the first cups of flour, I used a Danish Bread Hook. And for the final kneading of the dough, I used the bread hook attachment with my industrial strength (!) Kitchen Aid mixer. They both did a great job.
2 tbsp. active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups light cream
6-7 cups flour, sifted
2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temp.)
1 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1.5 cups raisins (rinsed and dried)
1/2 tbsp. Spanish saffron (0.5-0.7g)
1 egg (for egg wash)
raw almonds, slivered or sliced (unsalted; need not be toasted)
1. PREP: Grind saffron using a mortar & pestle until it is powder, and add a few drops of boiling water. Chop up butter in a bowl, and let it come to room temperature (or warm for 40 seconds in the microwave). Add water to raisins and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain water and lay raisins on paper towels to dry. Pre-warm oven to approx. 120 degrees and then turn OFF the heat.
2. Warm a 1/4 cup of water to approx. 100 degrees. Add it to a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add 2 tbsp. yeast and a pinch of sugar, and stir it around. Let the yeast rise for 15 minutes in a warm place.
3. Heat 2 cups light cream in the saucepan until a skin forms on top. Do NOT let boil.
4. Pour cream into large ceramic bowl. Sift 2 cups flour into bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Add yeast, and stir several minutes (using whipping motion, for aeration) until bubbles form and the dough becomes smooth and sticky. Place clean cloth over bowl and put into a pre-warmed oven (approx. 120 degrees) for 45 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, using an electric hand-mixer, whip butter. Add sugar and whip some more. Add egg yolks one at a time, and beat well, until smooth and fluffy. Add saffron. Add a few more drops of water to mortar if necessary to get every last bit of the saffron out. Whip some more until well-blended.
6. Remove the risen dough from the oven. Mix in butter/egg/saffron with a Danish Bread hook or wooden spoon. Sift in one cup of flour at a time, and mix with hook or spoon. Use between 4-5 cups. (Mine was fine with 4 cups). Add raisins, mix in with hands.
7. Place the dough into a strong stand mixer bowl and knead using bread hook attachment. OR on a floured surface,knead with heals of hands, rotating dough after each fold-over. Knead until dough no longer sticks to hands, or is “shiny.”
8. Put dough back into ceramic bowl, cover with cloth, and return it to pre-warmed oven (120 degrees) for another 1-2 hours, or until dough has doubled in size.
9. Remove dough from oven, and dump out onto floured surface. Twist dough while stretching it out into as long a roll as you can or into 3 rolls. Transfer dough roll onto the baking sheet and form into a B shape or braid it. If making klingeris, to prevent the dough from closing in on the loops during backing, you can place foil place savers inside the loops.
9 . Turn the oven temp to 360. Brush the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle chopped almonds on top. Once the oven comes up to temperature, return the dough to the oven and let bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on size. (Mine took 35 minutes). This is critical: DO NOT OVERBAKE. You want the outside to be brown, but the inside still soft and underdone.
10. Remove it from the oven and cool.
11. When it’s completely cooled down, sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.