This was my first time making kringle. The recipe I bookmarked included a headnote explaining how it symbolizes Danish hygge – the comfortable, good life. This intrigued me. Doesn’t everyone want to taste the comfortable, good life? (Yes!) The recipe was spare with instruction and offered no step pictures, so I almost didn’t make it. I didn’t know what kind of end result to expect! After researching many different kringle recipes online, I decided that I could read between the lines well enough. I’m so glad I forged ahead!
Say hello to my new favorite Christmas tradition. It is a glorious pastry that makes a nice breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. It has several steps but it’s not too hard to make, and I’m including all kinds of instructions and visual cues (a video!) so you can make it at home, too.
One of the things I like most about this recipe is that the dough is made in a food processor, barely kneaded, and then wrapped and whisked away to the refrigerator overnight. It takes very little time to make the dough and then you can just forget about the whole thing and return to your gift wrapping, cookie-making, and other seasonal merry-making.
Needless to say, begin one day ahead.
The filling is simple and made of staples that most bakers keep on hand, like cinnamon, nuts and powdered sugar. Almond paste is an important component, and I do not usually keep it on hand because I often make it fresh (homemade recipe on page 78 the Sprinkle Bakes book!). However, you can find almond paste at the grocery store in the baking aisle.
The most challenging part of this recipe is rolling the dough out to 24×24 inches square. My advice to you is this: as you roll, occasionally lift the dough and scatter flour underneath so it doesn’t stick. Don’t despair if your dough sticks to the work suface and tears, just gently lift the dough, scatter the flour underneath and pinch the tear back together.
After rolling the dough square, you’ll fold it into thirds. Be sure to check out the following video so you can see how to fold the dough onto itself. The folded dough is then rolled to 36-inches in length. As you can see in the above picture (with filling), I trimmed the dough to neaten the pastry edges. A little egg wash on the edges of the overlapped pastry will help hold the filling inside.
Shape the dough into an oval ring or ‘wreath’. Some kringle recipes called for the pastry to be twisted into a pretzel shape, but as a novice kringle-maker I decided to play it safe. I knew the wreath shape would bake evenly. Plus, to me, wreath = Christmas!
The wreath gets a heavy brushing of egg wash and then covered with coarse sugar. This is an important step! Don’t skip it. You can find the extra-coarse sugar I used here.
A simple milk glaze covers the entire pastry and more chopped nuts are sprinkled on. I couldn’t resist adding the flag of Denmark. If you’d like to do the same, you can find them here.
I almost forgot to tell you that this recipe is not like other yeast breads, because it will not double in size with proofing. It will inflate ever-so-slightly. This is business as usual for a kringle. The end result is a deeply golden, thin-topped, flaky pastry with a nutty-cinnamon filling that puffs in the oven.
I am truly excited to share this pastry with you. It’s a keeper! This recipe makes one large kringle, which probably serves about a dozen people, but if I’m serving, about eight.
This recipe is loosely adapted from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas. Tips, hints, clues, and tricks were gathered from more than a dozen websites featuring Christmas Kringle recipes.
Old Danish Christmas Kringle
Begin this recipe one day ahead.
This recipe calls for evaporated milk, which is easily confused with sweetened condensed milk because they are both canned. Evaporated milk is unsweetened. Be sure to get the right milk!
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup (240ml) warm water, 105°-115°F
1/4 cup evaporated milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup (240ml) heavy whipping cream
3 1/2 cups (420g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113g) butter, cubed and chilled
Mixed nut filling:
1 cup (8 oz. can/package) almond paste
1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped walnuts
1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped pecans
1/2 cup (56g) powdered sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg white
Egg Wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup (50g) coarse sanding sugar
1 cup (113g) confectioners’ sugar
2-4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup (1 oz.) chopped pecans
1/4 cup (1 oz.) chopped walnuts
Make the dough: Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a medium mixing bowl. Let the mixture stand 5 minutes until bubbly. Add the milk, cardamom, 1/4 cup sugar, egg yolks and cream. Stir well and set side.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour and salt. Place the cubed butter on top of the flour and pulse until pea-sized pieces of butter form. Pour the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the yeast mixture to the flour. Mix together just until the ingredients are moistened. Using your hands, briefly knead in any of the flour that didn’t incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the dough overnight.
Make the filling: Break the almond paste into pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and knead together with your hands. The mixture will be thick.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead together any loose dough pieces. Dough will be firm at first, so pound it flat with a rolling pin until it loosens a bit and becomes pliable. Roll to 24-inches square, picking up parts of the dough and spreading flour underneath intermittently so that it does not stick to the work surface.
Fold dough into thirds to make a long narrow strip. Roll the strip to about 36-inches in length, to about 1/4 inch thickness. Optional: Trim the ragged edges of the pastry to neaten the presentation. I removed about 1/2 inch of dough on all edges.
Place the filling in the center of the dough. The filling will be thick and clumpy, so place it by the handfuls or use two spoons – one spoon to pick up the filling and another to scrape it from the spoon and onto the dough.
Brush the long edges of the dough with egg wash and fold each edge towards the center, overlapping one edge of the dough slightly over the other (see video) and completely encasing the filling.
Transfer the dough to the baking sheet, and place it seam-side-down. Gently form the length of dough to a wreath shape that overlaps slightly at the ends. Use egg wash to secure the ends together (see video). Cover the entire pastry with egg wash and immediately sprinkle with coarse sugar. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let proof in a warm place for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the pastry for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool slightly on the baking sheet and then transfer to a large serving platter.
Make the glaze: Place the confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl and add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until a thick glaze forms. (I used 2 tbsp.) Add the vanilla and pinch of salt. Whisk together. Pour over the warm kringle. Immediately scatter chopped pecans and walnuts over the wet glaze.
Serve immediately or the glaze will set in about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long for a bite!).