Kepta Duona Recipe: Baltic Fried Black Bread


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If you’re sick of traditional snacks foods and want to mix it up a bit, then you’re seriously going to love this kepta duona recipe. Kepta duona is the Lithuanian name for a snack that is found throughout the Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (and even in neighbouring countries like Russia) and it is one of the most prevalent and ubiquitous snack foods found in this lovely European region!

But what is kepta duona? Well, it’s simply fried black bread, usually cut into strips or bite-sized pieces and rubbed with an amble amount of garlic. It’s fried until it’s crispy and then either served as is, with a garlic mayonnaise or even topped with cheese. As simple as it is, there is no denying that this is an incredibly delicious snack.

Michael and I have had the pleasure of enjoying kepta duona everywhere from bars in Vilnius, Lithuania to beach shacks in Jurmala, Latvia. The love for these crispy Baltic bread snacks run deep (you can even get them in containers from the supermarket!) and they are popular throughout the former Soviet Union — you can even find them as far as Tbilisi, Georgia!

So if you’re interested in trying these for yourself and want to make some Lithuanian fried bread or Latvian or Estonian garlic bread, then look no further than this kepta duona recipe!

Homemade Kepta Duona
Homemade Kepta Duona

How to Make Kepta Duona

So without further ado, let’s get into how to make kepta duona! This recipe is so incredibly easy that you really will be close to making this whenever you have some leftover bread hanging around. Be careful, they’re pretty addictive so you may want to make the more than is entirely healthy!

The first thing you need is black bread. If you don’t live in a place where this kind of bread is widely available, check some health food shops or Eastern European grocers (the same place you should look for Georgian cheese if you’re making khachapuri!). Alternatively, you can easily use rye bread or pumpernickel for very similar results.

Black Bread & Garlic - the key ingredients of Kepta Duona
Black bread & garlic – the key ingredients of Kepta Duona

Lay out a few slices of bread on a baking sheet or cutting board and allow them to dry a bit — a few hours works, overnight is even better. Then, when you’re ready to start cooking, cut the top off of a clove of garlic and rub each slice of bread all over with it. The fronts and the backs.

Then, cut the bread into strips using a serrated knife. I go for small strips that are about 1 centimetre wide and 5 centimetres long. Set the bread strips aside for later.

Black bread sliced into strips
Black bread sliced into strips

Crush and peel a few cloves of garlic and add them to a large, heavy skillet. Fill the skillet with a neutral frying oil and turn your flame to medium-high. Slowly heating up the garlic with the oil will allow it to infuse its flavours into the oil and make the fried bread snacks taste all that much better.

Once you see the garlic begin to brown, remove it from the oil using a spider or slotted spoon and allow to drain on a paper towel lined baking sheet. The garlic cloves are absolutely delicious to eat so make sure not to throw these away!

Once the oil reaches about 180°C (350°F), add your bread carefully. Stirring frequently to make sure that everything gets submerged and fries evenly. Fry the bread for about five to ten minutes, or until you notice it darkening and feeling crispy.

If you’re using black bread or pumpernickel, it won’t be very visibly browned because the bread is already quite dark. Just make sure to pull it before it starts to feel too hard — it will be about five to ten minutes.

Frying the black bread
Frying the black bread

Turn off the heat and using a spider or slotted spoon, remove the bread from the oil and allow to drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle immediately with salt and allow to cool for about five minutes or so before serving.

While the kepta duona is cooling is a great time to make a dipping sauce for your Lithuanian fried bread snacks. Though it isn’t super traditional, I find that a simple garlic aioli is perfect for this. If you’ve never made an aioli from scratch before, I promise you that it’s nothing to be scared of. So long as you take it slow and ensure that everything is emulsified, there is very little room for error.

So, in a small bowl. whisk together two egg yolks, two grated or VERY finely minced cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of lemon juice.

Once this is all combined, whisking constantly, very slowly drizzle in 120ml (1/2 cup) of olive oil. Start of by just going drop by drop of oil until you’ve combined some of it, then you can increase the speed of pouring. This is really similar to making a vinaigrette (which you can find in my French potato salad recipe!). Once all of your oil is incorporated, tasted to adjust for seasoning and transfer to a dish.

Making garlic aioli
Making garlic aioli

All there is left to do is transfer your kepta duona to a serving dish, put your aioli on the side and dig in! They are so good on their own, but they’re even better as a snack alongside a cold beer. It’s the perfect beer snack and you’ll never convince me otherwise!

Homemade Kepta Duona

Kepta Duona: Baltic Fried Black Bread

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This fried black bread snack is commonly served throughout Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and neighbouring countries. The perfect accompaniment to a beer, it's easy to make and an ideal salty snack. Serve with a garlic aioli as a dipping sauce.

Ingredients

Kepta Duona

  • 5-6 slices black bread
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • Salt, for seasoning
  • 250ml (1 cup) neutral oil, for frying

Garlic Aioli

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 120ml (1/2 cup) olive oil

Instructions

Kepta Duona

  1. Cut the tip off of one garlic clove and rub it over each side of the bread slices.
  2. Using a serrated knife, cut the bread slices into 5cm-long (2 inch) strips.
  3. Crush and peel the remaining garlic cloves. Add them to a skillet along with the cold oil. Over medium-high heat, bring the oil up to about 180°C (350°F). Keep and eye on the garlic and remove it from the oil as it begins to brown. Set is aside on a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
  4. Once oil comes to temperature, add the bread and fry until darkened and crispy, about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the pan using a spider or slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Immediately season with salt.
  5. Allow the bread to cool for about five minutes before serving along with the fried garlic. It's best when served with a side of garlic aioli!


Garlic Aioli

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, garlic, lemon juice and salt.
  2. One drop at a time and whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive oil, ensuring that it is fully emulsified before pouring in more. You can increase the speed that you add the oil in as it begins to emulsify.
  3. Transfer to a dish or container and refrigerate until serving.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 255Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 303mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 4g

Nutritional information is automatically generated and provided as guidance only. Accuracy is not guaranteed.

As you can see, this kepta duona recipe is so incredibly easy to execute and yields absolutely delicious results. In fact, the only thing you need to be wary of is getting too addicted to these delicious Baltic fried bread snacks!

Are you wondering how to make Estonian, Lithuanian or Latvian garlic bread? Have any questions about this recipe? Let me know in the comments!

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Maggie is the creator behind No Frlils Kitchen. She is a home cook and world traveller who loves to experiment with new cuisines and techniques at every chance she gets. No stranger to improvising and making do with the equipment and ingredients she has available, she is passionate about sharing her knowledge with others.

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