(The first entry in this series gave four recipes for holiday breads and cookies.)
Many years ago, my grandmother exchanged recipes with her neighbors in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Many have the name of the housewife who shared her treasured recipe, and a few were from her own mother (that is, my great-grandmother). We still have these recipes copied out in my mother's handwriting.
The problem is that at times the instructions are scanty. Such as, no temperature or time given for baking a cake. Well, geez Louise, everyone knows how to tell when a cake in done, right? It's the same directions, over and over, 350 or 400 degrees, 30 or 35 minutes unless you divided the batter into three layer tins, then it is about 20 minutes.
And the other problem is that so many younger women never even had home economics classes, so they have absolutely NO IDEA what the abbreviations or instructions mean. So I repeat the following basic instructions from the last time I ran a Recipe Exchange article. The recipes given here do not use yeast but I include info about using yeast anyway.
A capital T – like so – means Tablespoon. Also tbsp, also tbs.
A lower-case t – like so – means Teaspoon. Also tsp.
BEAT means to mix vigorously.
FOLD means to GENTLY mix the ingredients. You usually use a spatula instead of a spoon for this operation. Insert the spatula down into the bowl and lift up the mixture, folding it over onto the top of the mass of floury goodness. Do this just enough to more or less create an even distribution of ingredients, because some ingredients like a whipped mixture should NOT be beaten or they lose volume.
GREASING TINS: Baking tins should be greased before you pour the cake mix into them. This means using a small brush to apply margarine or butter to the inner surfaces of the tins; sometimes you also dust flour over the grease, too. Alternatively, you can just spray them with Pam, or cut circles of baking paper to fit your pans.
YEAST: Some of these recipes use yeast. If it is used in a dough, then you will have to let the cookies (such as the horns) sit on the baking sheet while they rise. Otherwise, it does not mean that making the recipe will take took much longer than one using baking powder or baking soda. Method: pour the packet of yeast into a little bowl of warm water, maybe a quarter cup. The water should NOT be hot; too hot water will kill the yeast before it can grow. You want the water to be just lukewarm. Add a bit of sugar and flour to feed the yeast beasties. When it looks bubbly, you know that it is growing and ready to be added to the rest of the ingredients. Happy yeast, happy bread and cookies. They have quick yeast now, too, which is much faster – but check your package label well.
A word about letting the dough rise. We used to set the covered bowl on a window sill that was getting sun. Alternatively you can set it inside the stove where it will not catch drafts. Stove should be off or at lowest setting.
TESTING FOR DONENESS: Some of you may have trouble knowing when items are done. Cookies will be pleasantly browned on top. Cakes are tested by sticking a toothpick into it; it if comes out clean instead of coated with batter, it is done. Loaves are similarly tested by sticking a clean knife into it, because you have to reach deeper inside. Cakes and loaves should also pull away from the edges of the pans.
The Good Part
Here is a grandma-tested recipe for Danish kringle.
Danish Kringle recipe from Denmark
Blend: ¾ c. butter with ¼ c. flour. Chill. Leave this in frig until “Roll.”
Soften (prepare yeast): 1 pkg. Yeast in ¼ c. lukewarm water. Add 1 T. sugar. Let stand at least 5 min.
Beat: 1 egg, reserving 1 T. for topping the kringle. Add ¾ c. cold milk, 2 T. sugar, 1 t. salt, and the yeast mix.
Blend: Above mixture with 2 and ½ to 3 c. flour until it leaves the sides of the mixing bowl.
Roll out: on floured board to one foot square. A foot is 12 inches.
Roll: Between two layers of waxed paper (or on a floured pastry cloth), flatten out the butter mixture to a 10 x 4 inch rectangle with your rolling pin.
Place this flattened butter in center of dough.
Fold ends of dough over to overlap. Fold dough over and roll out again with your rolling pin to a 12 inch square. REPEAT twice more. Wrap dough in waxed paper.
Chill for 30 min. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
Roll out: chilled dough to a 12 x 24 inch rectangle.
Cut lengthwise into TWO 24 x 6 inch strips.
Spread each with filling. Roll out as with a jelly roll. Moisten edges and seal well. Stretch gently to about 30 inches in length. Be careful not to break it.
Place: on greased baking sheet, form into oval shape, joining the ends.
Flatten into a half-inch thickness with rolling pin.
Brush with the reserved egg and sprinkle with ¾ c. sugar and ¼ c. blanched almonds.
Cover with moist cloth. Allow to rise in warm place – like in a warm window or inside the oven if the kitchen is cold. (oven is off or set extremely low) Temperature should be about 85 or 90 degrees for 25 min.
BAKE at 375 degrees F. for 25-30 min.
You may frost with thin icing when cool.
NOTE: This recipe did not come accompanied by a recipe for any of the delicious fillings, natch.
But I do find several recipes for them on Cooks.com and AllRecipes.com, so look around. Eclair kringles are filled with a pudding filling. You can use pie fillings from a can, too, but that seems like such a shame after making the pastry.
AllRecipes had this Walnut Filling: 1 c. softened butter, plus 2 c. brown sugar, plus 1 and ½ c. chopped walnuts.
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Holiday Special
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Chocolate Treats
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Chocolate Cakes
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: 7-Minute Frosting & More
The South Milwaukee Recipe Exchange: Rhubarb