Danish Deliciousness: Our Kringle Recipe

Kringle is a delicious Scandinavian pastry that dates back to the 13th century. Deriving its name from the Old Norse “kringla,” meaning ring or circle, kringle has been adopted as Wisconsin’s official state pastry. It has been made in Racine, a hub of Danish-American culture, since the late 1800s. It’s also popular in areas like Solvang, Calif., the Ballard area of Seattle, central Iowa and Burr Ridge, Ill.

My family hasn’t lived in any of those places, yet kringle has been one of our Christmas morning traditions for more than 40 years. We’ve always ordered ours from O&H Danish Bakery, established in Racine in 1949, and we’ve never been disappointed.

If you’d prefer homemade kringle, start your own holiday tradition with the simplified recipe below. Forget the 32 layers of dough found in the original Danish kringle; just fill this pastry with fruit or nuts, shape in an oval, then bake and ice. This recipe makes two kringles, so you can give one away; it makes a perfect gift!

Kringle

All photos by Nadine Noky; all rights reserved

Ingredients:

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold butter (for dough)
  • ½ cup softened butter (for glaze)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • 1 egg beaten or 2 egg yolks, beaten slightly
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans (for filling)
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (for topping)
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 5 teaspoons water
  • Vanilla extract (to taste)

Directions:

Dissolve yeast in warm water, set aside. Mix flour and salt in large bowl, cut in cold butter until the size of small peas. Add yeast mixture, sugar, milk and egg (or 2 egg yolks). Beat until well blended. Cover and chill in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Divide dough in half. (Refrigerate remaining half until ready to use.) Roll dough into 15” x 10” rectangle on well-floured surface. Put half of prepared filling down the center of the rectangle, fold the sides over and pinch to seal. Place on large lightly greased cookie sheet, seam down, and form into oval shape. Cover with dish towel, set in warm spot and let rise until double in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, cool for 10-15 minutes then drizzle with glaze.

Nut filling: In a medium bowl, mix ½ cup softened butter (room temperature), 1 cup brown sugar (firmly packed) and 1 ½ cups chopped walnuts or pecans
Filling variations: almond paste or flavoring, jam, pie filling, chopped apples, cinnamon, raisins, apricots or dates.

Glaze: Combine 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, 5 teaspoons water, 2 tablespoons cream cheese and vanilla extract to taste. Drizzle over kringle while still warm, and top with ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts. For an alternate glaze, substitute milk instead of water and add 2 tablespoons soft butter to the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla.

– Judi Bauer