latvian birthday cake (or: i verbally abuse creepy people in costumes.)

22 Aug


confession time: i am terrified of people wearing costumes. halloween makes me nervous. larpers freak me out. furries send me running & screaming.

in my opinion, people in costume act differently than when they are uncostumed.  they act like they are someone else and therefore in ways they usually would not. normal social rules seem not to apply.  and if their face or eyes are covered? all bets are off and you are more than likely going to be accosted by this crazy costumed psycho.

true story.

i have facts to back this up.

last halloween i celebrated (albeit hesitantly) at a pub down the street from my apartment and encountered two guys hovering on the edges dressed as if they had just walked out of “world of warcraft: the movie.” one was dressed in a way i can only think to describe as a giant human-sized thumb wearing a sheet and chain mail. i have no idea how else to describe it. the other was wearing some sort of demon-orc hybrid complete with retractable giant wiggly tongue and severed arm prop.  the thumb kept to himself, but the demon-orc took to licking random female passers-by or making a show of licking the severed arm in a, dare i say, “erotic” fashion.  i have absolutely no doubt that under that costume was a socially-awkward, skinny, pimpled man-child who spends his days and nights making internet cash by selling his high-level video game characters. uncostumed i have serious doubts that demon-orc would have spoken to a woman not to mention lick her.

all of that being said, i don’t mind disguised objects: they aren’t sentient and therefore won’t try to attack me out of a false sense of security.

kitchen utensils that look like animals? adorable.
bookshelves that double as doors to secret rooms? both fantastic and delightfully mysterious.
a cake pretending to be a pretzel? into it.

this seems like a good time to segue into my recipe: the latvian birthday cake. i was doing an internet search for “weird cake recipes” in honor of my friend’s self-created holiday devoted entirely to cake, aptly named “cake day.” when i came across the latvian birthday cake, i knew i had to give it a whirl. who in their right mind creates a birthday cake from yeast and saffron and shapes it like a pretzel? the latvians, that’s who.  i had a hard time deciding whether this was a cake or sweet bread or a pretzel. i still don’t know. but you know what, it tastes awesome, so i don’t care. and neither should you.

latvian birthday cake from global table adventure

what you’ll need:

2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tsp saffron
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
2 tsp thin strips of lemon zest
2 tsp this strips of orange zest
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick 0f butter, softened)
5 1/2- 6 cups flour
1 cup raisins

for the topping: 1 egg for egg wash, 1/4 cup thinly sliced almonds

1. dissolve yeast in warm water with the saffron and a pinch of sugar. (appx. 5 minutes).

2. meanwhile, since butter doesn’t come pre-softened (unless you count the sort in the tub i suppose), let’s soften your butter.  i don’t actually own a microwave… sooo desperate times lead to softening your butter on top of a toaster oven…

3. mix your yeast with the rest of your ingredients (except those for the topping) in the bowl of a standing mixer.  you may not need all of your flour–just enough to form a soft dough. so for goodness sakes, don’t just throw it all in like a heathen.

4. knead your dough for about 10 minutes. you will be, appropriately, using your dough hook for this. your dough may try to escape. just a warning.

look for your dough to come away from the sides of your bowl. it will look sticky, but won’t be super sticky. make sense? no? trial and error is a great teacher, i say.

5. let rise until doubled in size (about 1.5 hours).

6. we will now be shaping the dough into a pretzel shape.  roll out the dough into about a 3 foot long log, then tuck ends like one would for, a, you guessed it, pretzel. keep the holes about fist sized as they will close up while baking. allow to rise for another 30 mins.

7. brush your beautifully proofed pretzel-shaped latvian birthday cake with a beaten egg and then generously sprinkle with sliced almonds. the egg will give your pretzel/cake/thing a nice shine. the almonds will just be tasty.

8. bake at 350 degrees f for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. see above.

this cake is most happily enjoyed while still warm and with a nice dusting of confectioner’s sugar.  jam is also quite lovely as an accompaniment.

the verdict: i don’t know if i would necessarily call this a cake, but whatever it is–i am a huge, huge fan. i literally had to take to slapping my own hand to keep myself from grabbing more.  and please note that this recipe produced a big honkin’ cake, so there was a lot of hand slapping required.  the orange with the saffron and raisins gave it a wonderful flavor that i am having a challenging time figuring out how to describe (so just trust me), and upon reminiscing on this recipe (which i confess wasn’t baked yesterday or even in the past 2 months), my roommate declared it “so yummy.”

3 Responses to “latvian birthday cake (or: i verbally abuse creepy people in costumes.)”

  1. like this September 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

    This is interestingly just the thing I’ve been searching for! Excellent and cheers!

  2. Rose September 19, 2012 at 3:53 am #

    This looks yummy to me! Probably because it’s shaped like a pretzel, but I would definitely be baking this soon. Thanks for the idea.

  3. Phil Gentile July 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm #

    Thanks so much. We have a teenage girl staying with us for July and she is from Latvia. i will attempt to make this!

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