So, you might ask: What the heck is a „kleina“?
In wikipedia the following description is to be found:
„Kleina is a small twisted cake fried in fat (for example tallow) and has long been a popular coffee bread in Iceland. Donuts are cut out with a donut iron (donut cutter). In the past, people sometimes fried donuts in fish oil, but this was rare. Strictly speaking, it is wrong to talk about baking donuts as they are not baked but fried. The small coffee bread comes from Denmark, where it is a Christmas pastry. The name "kleina" is the Icelandic name for the Danish name "klejne", which is derived from the Danish adjective "klejn" which means thin, narrow or perverse.“
Kleina is fun to make, specially on a rainy day. I always use an old recipe from my mom, who got it from her mom, so it´s probably an about 60-70 years old recipe from North Iceland.
For 40 pieces of „kleina“ you need:
4 cups flour
½ cup sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup of Icelandic „súr mjólk“ („sour milk“) – you can use a thin plain joghurt instead
(I also add 1 tsp Cardamom spice drops)
Mix flour and sugar in a bowl, add the baking powder. Crumble the butter into the bowl and add the eggs, sour milk/joghurt and cardamom drops and knead the dough. Form the kleinur and fry them in deep frying oil.
To form kleinur you roll out the dough until fairly thin (not too thin! – approx. 5 millimetres thick) and then cut into strips 5-6 centimetres wide. Cut diagonally across the previous cuts to create the diamond shapes. Cut a tiny slit in the centre of each diamond and very gently pull one end through the slit, to make the twist.
Heat the frying oil (about 5-6 cm) in a pot. It must be very hot. Put raw kleinur into the oil and fry on each side for 1 to 1:30 minutes until they reach golden brown colour. Put them on a paper towel to get rid of the fat.
For the same dough but by adding some raisins and make balls instead of "kleina" you can make "Love-balls" but that is a another story!
To make life easier you can buy kleinur in every supermarket or bakery in Iceland but homebaked taste simply better. You can also join one of our hotel riding tour and I will make some kleinur especially for you. (p.s. if you don´t like them, my horses loves kleinur!)
Written and photos by: Steinunn (whose nickname is Steina and rimes with kleina........)
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