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History of Kringles
Kringles are butter-layered Danish pastries that were first introduced to Racine, Wisconsin in the late 1800s by immigrant Danish bakers.
In Denmark, they are traditionally pretzel-shaped, almond-filled coffee cakes called Wienerbroth (Viennese bread).
At one time Racine was home to more Danes than anywhere else in the
country and as a result there are more Kringler shops in Racine than you'll find anywhere else.
The kringles were created by German bakers from
Austria who introduced their method of rolling butter between layers
of yeast dough and letting it rest for hours before baking. When
Danish bakers in Copenhagen went on strike, the bakery owners fired
them and hired replacements from Austria. Once the Danish bakers
returned to their jobs, they continued to make dough the Austrian
It’s the shape of a kringle
(pretzel-shaped) in Denmark, which is the Danish sign for a
bakery (hence the name kringle). Outside every bakery in
Denmark, you will find a sign with a kringle on it. A kringle is not
only the dough, as it can be made of different types of dough.
the left is the symbol of a kringle which is displayed outside all Danish bakers. >The
kringle symbol is one of the few ancient guild signs still being used
Over the years, a variety of fruit and nut fillings were added, and in the United States (not Denmark), the pretzel shape was changed to its
present oval shape to eliminate the unfilled, overlapping parts.
True kringles are very labor intensive and can take up to three days to prepare, as they are made
with up to thirty layers of delicate pastry dough. the challenge for
a kringle baker is to roll butter thinly between several layers of
yeast-raised dough. According to kringle bakers, you must roll very
slowly to make the layers thinner. The traditional Racine bakeries
offer a flat, oval kringle. The best places to enjoy kringles are in
the bakeries in Racine.
Racine, Wisconsin, is known as the "most Danish city in America."
One of its favorite Danish treats is the kringle. There is a story
(or folk tale) about one resident:
Lars Larson, was on his
deathbed in an upstairs bedroom. His doctor had said Lars would
last for only a matter of hours. Lars woke from a deep sleep and
sniffed. His wife must have just returned from the bakery, and
the aroma of freshly baked kringles bought a spark to Lars. He
whispered, "If I could just have a taste of kringle before I
die, it would make my dying sweeter."
He mustered every ounce of
strength and got out of bed. Slowly he made his way downstairs
and into the kitchen. there he spied two kringles on the
counter. Just as he was reaching out to take a piece, his wife
swatted his hand away. "Stop that," she said. "We're saving
these for the funeral."
Are you interested in purchasing and tasting an authentic Kringle made at a Racine bakery in Wisconsin? Check our What's Cooking
America's Gourmet Food Store to purchase one.
Although this recipe does not require the
tedious process of rolling out layers of butter and dough, as is
done in the Racine Kringle bakeries, the result is similar and very,
very good (in fact fantastic).
Yields: 2 Kringles
Prep time: 1 hr
Cook time: 20 min
1 package active dry
1/4 cup warm water (110 degree F. to 115 degree F.)
1/2 cup cold butter
2 cups all-purpose
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm milk (110 deg. to 115 deg.)
Nut Filling (recipe follows)
Glaze (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
Using a pastry blender or two knives, in a large bowl, cut butter into flour and
salt until particles are the size of small peas. Add yeast mixture,
sugar, warm milk, and egg; beat until smooth (dough will be very
soft). Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours but not more than 24 hours.
When ready to use, remove from refrigerator. Punch dough down and divide in half;
return other half to refrigerator. On a well-floured board, working
quickly before dough softens, roll into a 15 x 10-inch rectangle,
approximately 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick (if dough gets too warm from
handling, return to refrigerator).
Spread half of the prepared Nut Filling down the center of the rolled-out dough
rectangle in a 2-inch strip. fold sides of dough over filling,
overlapping 1 1/2 inches; pinch edges to seal.
Form roll into a circle and pinch ends together. Place seam side
down on a large greased baking sheet. Repeat same process with
remaining dough and filling. Cover and let rise in a warm place for
30 minutes or until double in size.
Lift the filled roll from both ends firmly and center the middle of
the roll onto the baking sheet as if you were forming a circle. Pull
the ends of the roll so that they make a cross above the roll, then
pull the ends down and tuck the ends under the top part of the roll
so that the ends stick out from under the roll.
Cover the dough and let rise in a warm place approximately 30 minutes or until double in size.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. After the dough has risen, bake approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. remove from
oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
Spread prepared Glaze over the warm Kringle. Sprinkle with chopped pecans or walnuts. Serve
Kringles warm or at room temperature.
To re-warm, preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Slide a whole, uncut Kringle onto a baking
sheet lined with aluminum foil. Cover loosely with a large piece of
aluminum foil and heat for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and
remove aluminum foil before slicing.
Makes 2 Kringles
(each serves 10 to 12).
1 1/2 cups finely-chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
In a large bowl, combine pecans or walnuts, brown sugar, and butter.
1 cup powdered (confectioners) sugar
4 to 5 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, water, and vanilla.