Danish Christmas Kringle with Variations on Fillings (Nut, Cranberry, Apricot-Apple)



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2 pkg. (5-1/2) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (105 to 115°F)
1/4 cup undiluted evaporated milk, at room temperature
1 tsp. freshly ground cardamom (optional)
1/4 cup sugar
3 lg. egg yolks
1 cup whipping cream (heavy cream)
3-1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces

Nut Filling

1 cup almond paste (about 1/2 pound)
1 cup finely chopped almonds, pecans, or
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar sometimes called (powdered, or
icing sugar)
1 lg. egg white
1 tsp. almond extract

Cranberry Filling

1 pkg. (12 oz.) fresh or
frozen cranberries
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. orange zest
1 small, tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup sugar
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 dash freshly ground nutmeg

Apricot-Apple Filling

1-1/2 cup dried apricots, cut into pieces (about 8 ounces)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored, and chopped
1 cup sugar

Glaze and Topping

1 lg. egg white, lightly beaten
Pearl sugar, coarsely crushed sugar cubes, or
granulated sugar, for sprinkling
Sliced almonds or
chopped walnuts or
pecans, for sprinkling


MAKE THE DOUGH. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add the milk, cardamom, sugar, egg yolks, and whipping cream and blend well; set aside.

In a large bowl, or in the work bowl of a food processor with the steel blade in place, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter until the pieces are the size of kidney beans. If using a food processor, turn into a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients are moistened. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling of your choice.

TO MAKE THE NUT FILLING, in a bowl with an electric mixer or a food processor break the almond paste into pieces and blend with the chopped nuts, confectioners’ sugar, egg white, and almond extract until well mixed.

TO MAKE THE CRANBERRY FILLING, combine the cranberries, orange juice and zest, apple, raisins, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

TO MAKE THE APRICOT-APPLE FILLING, combine the apricots, orange juice and zest, apple, and sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until the fruits are soft and the mixture is thick about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and dust the dough lightly with flour. Using a rolling pin, pound the dough until smooth and about 1/2 inch thick. Roll out to make a 24-inch square. Fold the dough into thirds to make a long and narrow strip. With the rolling pin, roll again until about 1/4 inch thick and about 36 inches long and 8 inches wide.

Spread the filling of your choice in a 3-inch strip down the length of the dough. Overlap the edges of the dough to enclose the filling; pinch the ends to seal. Brush with the egg white to seal the ends and the seam. Brush the entire roll with egg white and coat generously with sugar and nuts on all sides.

Lightly grease and flour a baking sheet or cover with parchment paper.

TO MAKE THE KRINGLE SHAPE, place the roll on the baking sheet in the shape of a large pretzel. To do this, place the baking sheet horizontally in front of you. 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.

FOR THE HORSESHOE SHAPES, cut the filled strip crosswise at the center point to make two strips. Place on 2 prepared baking sheets and form each strip into a horseshoe. Seal the ends of each horseshoe. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle with the sugar and nuts.

Cover and let rise in a warm place for 45 minutes. It will not double. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Brush the kringle again with the egg white and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Makes one 15-inch-diameter pretzel or two 12-inch horseshoes.

Author's Comments

An almond filling is encased in a buttery, flaky yeast pastry that is crusted with sugar and almonds and traditionally shaped in a large pretzel. This Christmas treat symbolizes Danish hygge, or the “comfortable and good life.” Danes use a variety of fruit or nut fillings in a kringle, although the almond filling is the most popular. Two fruit fillings are included as alternatives to the nut filling.

I often make two horseshoe-shaped coffee breads instead of a pretzel. The pasty is actually quite simple to make, because it is based on a refrigerated dough that is easy to handle.

The Great Holiday Baking Book..Beatrice Ojakangas

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