Russians of the Orthodox faith are given Saints’ names at their christenings, and thereafter they celebrate both their birth-days and their Name Days. Because there are a saints listed in the Russian calendar, a large family is likely to hold frequent parties. Krendel, a rich, very sweet fruit loaf, baked in the shape of a large B, is traditionally offered to friends and relatives token they drop in to offer Name Day congratulations. However, this attractive bread is delicious served for any occasion.
1 teaspoon plus
1 tablespoon butter, softened
½ oz. fresh yeast
8 oz. plus
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon tepid water
4 fl. oz. milk
1 lb. flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 oz. sultanas or raisins
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz. butter, chilled and cut into
½ inch slices
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 oz. sugar
Grease a large baking sheet with the teaspoon of softened butter. Set aside.
Crumble the yeast into a small bowl and mash in the ;1 teaspoon of sugar with a fork. Add the water and cream the water and yeast together to form a smooth paste. Set the bowl aside in a warm, draught-free place for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the yeast mixture has risen and is puffed up and frothy.
Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Place it over moderately high heat and scald it (bring to just below boiling point).
Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining tablespoon of butter. When the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and allow the milk and butter mixture to cool to lukewarm.
Sift the flour, remaining sugar and salt into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the sultanas or raisins. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast mixture, the milk and butter mixture and the eggs. Using your fingers, or a spatula, gradually draw the flour into the liquid. Continue mixing until all the flour is incorporated and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out on to a floured board or marble slab and knead for about 10 minutes, reflouring the surface if the dough becomes sticky. The dough should then be elastic and smooth.
Rinse, thoroughly dry and lightly grease the mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth. Set the bowl in a warm, draught-free place and leave it for 1 to 12- hours, or until the dough has risen and has almost doubled in bulk.
Turn the risen dough out of the bowl on to a floured surface and knead it for about
5 minutes. Flatten the dough out with the heel of your hand to an oblong about -1-inch thick. Place the butter slices over about two-thirds of the dough and bring the other third of the dough over. Fold the dough over again so that the butter is completely enclosed. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to an oblong
1/2inch thick and fold in three again. Turn the dough so that the open end is facing you and roll out again. Repeat the folding and rolling twice more. With your hands, roll out the dough into a long sausage shape and twist it several times, like a rope.
Lay the twisted dough over the baking sheet so that equal lengths of dough hang over each end of the baking sheet. Bring the hanging pieces on to the baking sheet to form a large B-shape. Place a cloth over the baking sheet and return it to a warm place for about 30 to 45 minutes or until the dough has risen and expanded across the baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to moderate 350 °F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C).
Using a pastry brush, brush the top of the dough with the beaten egg. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the top. Place the baking sheet in the centre of the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the krendel is spread across the baking sheet and is golden brown.
Allow the krendel to cool on the baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes before trans-ferring it to a large wire rack.
Cool completely before serving.