My partner’s nieces live in Racine, Wis., and whenever Lisa, Susie and Jill head to the Twin Cities for a visit, they invariably present us with a thoughtful gift in the form of a few kringles, purchased on their way out of town at the city’s famous O&H Danish Bakery and presented in big waxed paper envelope-style bags. I’ve always loved them, and often wondered if I could replicate a kringle at home.
A few weeks ago, the folks from Cook’s Country magazine dropped their latest cookbook in my lap. “Blue Ribbon Desserts” (America’s Test Kitchen, $29.95) rattles off more than 100 American heirloom treats, including, wouldn’t you know it, a pecan kringle.
I was hooked from the recipe’s opening sentences: “Wisconsin might conjure up images of cheese and beer, but in the southeast corner of the state, there’s another culinary superstar: kringle. Recipes for this oval-shaped, supremely buttery Danish arrived with the many Danish immigrants who settled in Racine in the 1800s.”
I had a little free time on my hands over the weekend -- and we had friends coming over for Sunday lunch -- so I added butter, sour cream, yeast and pecans to my shopping list, pulled the food processor off the shelf and got to it. The verdict? Not bad. Quite good, actually, and relatively easy to make (because it’s Cook’s Country, the aw-shucks magazine- and TV series-cousin to detail-obsessed Cook’s Illustrated, the well-tested formula worked like a charm). The only element missing from the recipe was the following reassurance: Frankly, if you can roll a pie crust, you can make a kringle.
Next time -- and there’s definitely going to be a next time -- I’m going to double the amount of filling. Isn’t the filling what a kringle is all about, anyway?
Based on this single recipe, I'd definitely place "Blue Ribbon Desserts" on my to-buy cookbook list. Especially since I’ve already made a list of “blue ribbon” recipes I’m going to tackle: lemon pound cake, Southern caramel cake, “mile-high” lemon meringue pie, brown sugar cookies and “Tick Tock orange sticky rolls,” named for the former Tick Tock tea rooms in Los Angeles.
That last one sounds as if it might have “cabin breakfast” written all over it. Hey, if my cabin-owning friends hear that I’ve got sticky breakfast rolls on the brain, maybe I’ll snare a few invites this summer. That’s one trick to weekend lakeside invitations: Baking know-how.
Makes 2 kringles, each serving 8
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. To toast pecans, place them in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast, occasionally shaking pan, until nuts are fragrant and begin to darken slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. From “Blue Ribbon Desserts” by the editors of Cook’s Country (America’s Test Kitchen, $29.95)
1 c. pecans, toasted
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
4 c. flour, plus extra for rolling dough
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1/4 c. shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) rapid-rise or instant yeast
3/4 tsp. salt
2 c. sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. whole milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
To prepare filling: In bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt and pulse until coarsely ground. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to a bowl and reserve.
To prepare dough: In bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add butter, flour, shortening, powdered sugar, yeast and salt and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and stir in sour cream until a dough forms (if dough appears shaggy and dry after adding sour cream, add up to 2 tablespoons ice water until dough is smooth). On a lightly floured work surface, divide dough in half. Pat each half into a 7- by 3-inch rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes, then freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one dough half into a 28- by 5-inch rectangle (dough will be about 1/4-inch thick). Cover bottom (long) half of dough with half of filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border around bottom and side edges. Brush edge of uncovered dough with water, fold dough over filling and pinch seams closed. Shape into an oval, tuck one end inside the other and pinch to seal. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
When ready to bake, adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Discard plastic wrap, brush kringles with beaten egg and bake until golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes, switching and rotating sheets halfway through baking. Remove from oven, and slide parchment paper and kringles to a wire rack and let cool about 30 minutes.
To prepare glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk powdered sugar, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Drizzle glaze over kringles and let glaze set, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.