Monday, December 13, 2010

What's in a Kroboth Christmas? A kipfel, of course!

Each year, the Kroboths make kipfels. When Rusty first introduced them to me years back, I was addicted. They are divine with a cup of coffee in the morning - well, anytime of day actually. He said they took all day to make and were lots of work. I looked at the little pastry and thought, surely he's exaggerating.

First off, you are probably wondering what the heck a kipfel is. It's this sweet little pastry roll, with a walnut and sugar filling inside. Sprinkled with powdered sugar on top. It's. Freaking. Awesome.

This year, I told Rusty's mom I wanted to learn how to bake kipfels so I could continue the Kroboth tradition. Grammy stopped being able to bake them years back and Jan took over for her. The recipe goes back many generations in the family. Jan bakes them each Christmas and gives them to special friends and family.

Asher and I showed up in our sweats on Monday to begin the kipfel tutorial. Jan and Ed told me on the way to rest up because the hard work would begin when I arrived. (Luckily, I brought Joni along with me to help with Asher. I figured if this turned out to be as much work as everyone said, we'd need some child care assistance.) They were right!

As soon as we got there, Jan and I began making the second batch of dough. She had already prepared the first so that it could rise that morning. Do note: this is the first time I've ever done anything with yeast, or a food processor or anything that involved dough and rising and rolling. This was intense! No baby steps for me!

Each time we began a step, Jan would wisely point out the modern convenience way of doing it (mixer or food processor) versus the old-fashioned 'better' way (according to Grammy). This usually involved hours (seriously, hours) of stirring and kneading. One thing she said for certain, don't use modern appliances to chop the walnuts for the filling. We used Grandpop's old hand crank to chop eight pounds of walnuts.

To get the kipfel itself, you have to roll out the dough. Cut it by hand in the just the right size. Fill each little square. And roll them up, tucking in the sides. Place them on your baking sheets, into the oven, onto the cooling surface and sprinkle with sugar. Taa daa! All done!

Six hours later, we have hundreds of kipfels cooling on the dining room table. There was flour and powdered sugar everywhere. The dogs were running around with white spots in their fur. And our backs hurt.

Grammy and Grandpop arrived to observe our last few sheets. They had a lot of commentary to add, and stories of years of kipfel baking past. We enjoyed warm out-of-the-oven yumminess with a cup of coffee. It was divine in all ways. Sweet treats. Sweet family. Sweet memories. Sweet day.

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