Icelandic Kleinur




Happy, Happy Neighbors

It’s spring in Sweden.  Cherry trees are in full bloom and all’s right with the world.

So, the afternoon project was making kleinur.  This recipe is Icelandic and kleinur are probably the second most popular snack after Icelandic pancakes to serve with coffee.  Oli got this recipe from his aunt Ása and is paying it forward by sharing it here today.

The best way to describe kleinur is to compare them to a twisted donut: maybe crullers, minus the sugar coating.  They are easy to make and fun to shape.  The slightly crunchy outside yields to a lovely soft cardamom scented interior.  The trick to the soft interior is not to knead the dough too much.  Work it until it is just combined, otherwise the kleinur will be chewy.  That nice, soft interior is also a result of lots of baking powder and baking soda in the dough.  The slightly crunchy exterior makes them an ideal dunkable accompaniment to coffee.  Or how about hot out of the fry basket with a glass of cold milk?  (Oli’s favorite.)

Cherry trees

When Oli bakes, he always shares with his neighbors.  (Personally, I think he has some pretty lucky neighbors.)  Today was no exception.  To the joy of his neighbors, Oli treated them to fresh kleinur.   It’s a tradition for the little Italian lady who lives next to Oli to invite a friend for coffee and celebrate spring.  They sit on the patio, sip coffee, relax and enjoy the cherry trees that line the neighborhood.  It’s an annual celebration of the season and their friendship. This year Oli’s timing was just right.  Kleinur day was the day she and her friend were getting together.  She was so thrilled to have these golden twists to serve that she gave Oli a huge hug and a kiss.

Happy, happy neighbors.  You know, sometimes it doesn’t take much to make people happy.  But Oli told me that he was the happiest guy in the neighborhood that day.

We hope these kleinur make you happy as well.

Icelandic Kleinur

Makes about 50 (4-inch) kleinur

5 cups  all purpose flour
1 stick (100 gr) cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups plain yogurt
2 whole eggs

Vegetable oil for deep-frying

1.  Mix half of the flour and all of the butter in food processor until butter is incorporated. About half a minute until you have a powdered consistency.12.  Turn the mixture out onto a clean work surface. Add the other half of the flour along with the sugar, baking soda, cardamom and the baking powder. Use your hands to blend until everything is well combined.4

3.  Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and drop the eggs and yogurt into the well. Work the flour into the egg mixture until all well combined into a firm dough that is not sticky but almost sticky.  Add more flour or yogurt if necessary. Make sure not to knead the dough too much or the kleinur will become chewy.

4.  Divide the dough into two equal parts.  Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5 6

5. Take one half of the dough and place on a floured surface. Dust with a little flour and then roll it to about 20-inches x 14-inches.  Cut the dough into 5 long strips.  Cut each strip into  5 equal diamonds.  Save the scraps and add them to the stored dough.
a 7

6.  Make a slit in the center of the diamond. Take one end and pull it through the center slit.  It’s as easy as that.  You have the signature twist for kleinur.


7.  Heat about 3-inches of oil to 350F  in a large pot and keep the temperature stable. Gently lower about 5-6 pieces at a time into the pot. The oil will always cool a little when you add new dough to it, so clip a thermometer to the pot to measure the temperature.  Fry until one side is golden (about 1 minute) then turn them with a spatula and cook the other side a little less than a minute.


8.  When both sides are a beautiful golden brown remove the kleinur from the oil and set aside on a paper towel to drain and cool.  Don’t forget the other dough ball in the fridge.


While they are cooling, make some coffee and invite a neighbor to share.  Happy spring!


Posted in Icelandic Classic, Snacks, Sweets, To dunk in coffee | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

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