In many homes in Iceland a large cooking pot lurks in a kitchen cupboard. Its sides are black with burnt-in fat, and a guest might wonder what the monster is used for. Occasionally, in some homes as often as once a week, this pot will be pulled out from its hiding place and put to good use for frying doughnuts in. It is not unusual for a doughnut-maker to make a double or even triple recipe in one session.
Twisted doughnuts are not a specifically Icelandic phenomenon, but neither are they as common in other countries. Making these delicacies is time consuming and hard work, and therefore the batches are usually large to save time and effort.
- Don't try this if you have never deep-fried anything before, as the frying fat must be very hot, and certain precautions must be taken to avoid accidents. They include:
- not letting the hot oil get into contact with water,
- never leaving the frying pot or deep-fryer unattended, and, in case of accidents,
- having a fire-blanket and/or fire extinguisher at hand.
I am including 2 recipes, one with hartshorn powder and one without it, as hartshorn seems to be quite difficult to find outside Europe. Both recipes are mixed and handled in the same way.
|Ready to fry dough and fried kleinur.|
500 g flour
40 g margarine/butter, soft
2 tsp baker's ammonia/hartshorn salt (ammonium carbonate)
2 medium eggs
1 tsp baking powder
150 ml milk, sour milk or buttermilk
150 g sugar
2 tsp essence of cardamom
1 kg flour
150 g butter
250 g sugar
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp powdered cardamom
a few drops of vanilla essence
250 ml buttermilk or cream
Mix together dry ingredients. Mix in the margarine/butter and then eggs and milk/cream, followed by the essence of cardamom or vanilla essence. Knead into a fairly soft dough. Avoid over-kneading, as this will make the doughnuts tough.
|Making the twist.|
Heat the frying fat. It must be very hot, and will have reached the right temperature when a doughnut browns and cooks through in about 1 to 1:30 minutes.
Genuine Icelandic twisted doughnuts are fried in sheep tallow, which leaves a special taste, but this is now considered unhealthy because of all the saturated fat.
I use about 2/3 cooking fat and 1/3 tallow, which produces healthier kleinur that still have that old-time tallow flavour. If you can't get tallow, use about a litre of vegetable cooking fat that can be heated to a high temperature, for example canola or coconut oil.
|When they reach this colour, remove from fat.|
Most deep-fryers can not get the oil hot enough for frying kleinur - but they are safer than using a pot on the stovetop. If you do use a fryer, heat the oil to the maximum temperature, and allow the oil a short time to heat up again after each round of doughnuts.
I found an American recipe for twisted doughnuts in The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker (New York, N.Y., Harper & Row, 1989). The recipe is taken from an old American cookbook, and although the twisting method is quite different, the recipes themselves are clearly related.