Sunday, December 18, 2011

Klejner (Smalls)

There are some tastes or flavours of foods that  will be forever associated with Christmas to me, and one of those is that wonderful, cardamomy taste of Klejner.   I made some on Saturday, took one bite of the first one fresh out of the fryer, and was transported back to my childhood.   I don't remember if Mom made these more than once a year, but they are Christmas to me.   Well, alongside most of the other cookies we made as well.
Danish style Christmas Tree with hearts and flags

I wanted to make these for our guests, OK, mostly for me. The fact that we were having Tapa's night was just an excuse to indulge myself.   I did notice that people would try one and then go for seconds.    And they made inroads on the big bowlful I placed on the table.
Klejner

So many good memories are tied up in the making of Klejner for me.  Mom at the stove frying the Klejner while the rest of us tried to keep up with Mom.   One of us would roll out the dough, then we'd cut it, and twist the little diamonds into the shapes, hand them to Mom and she'd fry them on up.   This dough is very soft, and so you only roll out a little of it at a time.   The recipe suggests dividing it into fourths and only working with a quarter of the dough at a time.   I would say that if you've only got an assembly line of one, like I had, to divide the dough up a little more.   I ended cutting each quarter of the dough in half again.  Otherwise it warmed up so much it was hard to handle.

First off, let me give you the directions, then I'll write out the full recipe.
Start by creaming together the butter and sugar, add the eggs, flour with baking powder, cream and vanilla, and cardamom and mix together in a stand mixer.   The dough will be very sticky.
Don't panic, it's supposed to be that way.    There's a lot of butter in here, as well as eggs and cream.
Tip it onto a lightly, very lightly floured piece of plastic wrap and place it into the fridge for at least an hour to chill.  You can also place it into the freezer if you like.  Won't hurt it.
Divide the dough into quarters, and take out only one portion, return the rest to the fridge.
Lightly flour your counter top, and roll out the dough to a roughly square or rectangular shape.   I find if I shape the dough just a tad in the beginning, it's easier to make it square.   You do want to use a very light hand with the flour.  Roll it out to about a 1/4 inch thickness.
Then the fun begins.
Cut the dough into long strips,

then crosswise again into diamond shapes.
Dough rolled out for Klejner
Cut a slit into the middle of each diamond, then with a twist of your hands, pull on corner of the diamond through the slit in the middle, making sure you don't pull too hard or stretch the dough out too much.

I found out it's really hard to do this and take pictures at the same time, so you'll have to forgive me.  But I think you get the drift.
Keep on going with them, until you've done this for all of those little diamonds.  And as you can see, it's been awhile since I've made Klejner so they don't look all neat and pretty.   Actually, the more I did the better I got, but I was running late so I just hurried up and kept on going.  And those little bits and pieces of dough that got left over, just throw them back in the fridge and roll them all out after you've done the main batch of dough.   I guess you don't need to make the knots, but they're traditional for me so that's the way I do it.
Klejner frying in oil


If you've got a Frydaddy, use it.  Best invention ever for frying Klejner.   Dump them into the hot oil and fry them til they're golden brown.  You'll need to turn them over once or twice so that they cook evenly.   Then take them out and drain them either on a rack or use my trick of coffee filters.
Klejner right out of fryer

Finished Klejner
This works really well for me.   Then as they cool, pile them up in a bowl and serve them up.   These are best eaten the same day,  just like doughnuts, but I find they taste pretty darn good for a couple of days.   If they last that long. 

Here's the recipe, it's from Karen Bergs cookbook Danish Home Baking.

Klejner
1 cup butter
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup sugar
3/4  teaspoon baking powder
4 cups Flour
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
* 3-4 whole cardamom seeds, peeled and the seeds crushed in a mortar and pestle, to a fine powder.
or a 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom.
 4 cups oil, for frying the Klejner   (if you can handle lard, these do taste best cooked in lard)

Cream the butter and sugar together for a minute then add the rest of the ingredients and mix into a dough.  Set into the fridge to cool for about an hour, or until the dough feels a little firm.   This is a very soft dough.
Dust your counter or rolling surface very lightly with flour.   Take out a quarter of the dough, and roll out thin, and cut into long strips about 1 1/4 inches wide.   Cut the strips diagonally into smaller strips about 3 1/2 inches in length.   In the middle of these smaller pieces, make a slash with the point of a knife.  Pull one end of the piece through the slash to form a half knot. 

Heat oil to 375 degrees after making the knots.  If you have a Frydaddy, this is excellent for maintaining the right temp., if not then just use a good solid pan on top of the stove. Drop into boiling fat and cook until golden brown, turning to cook them evenly.   Lift out with a perforated spoon and place in a strainer or on brown paper (or my trick, some coffee filters) to allow the fat to drip off. 



Sid Munkholm
Sid Munkholm

Sid loves to cook, feed people and have fun in the kitchen. She shares her successes and the involuntary offerings she sometimes gives the kitchen goddess as well. And she's still looking for the mythical fairy to help her clean the kitchen after a marathon cooking session. Currently working on a cookbook showcasing the recipes from her Danish heritage.

2 comments:

  1. Sid,
    These look really pretty, and sound delicious too! I'm going to have to try these. Thanks!

    Pandora

    ReplyDelete
  2. These are a fun cookie to make when you're baking with kids. They love to shape the little Klejner knots. And who cares if they're misshapen, they still taste so good. Let me know what you think when you try them out.

    ReplyDelete

I love to hear from my readers, so please feel free to drop me a note, let me know if you like something I made, it makes my day.