Danish kringle, known as smørkringle in Denmark, is a rich pastry flavored with almonds and butter and shaped into a ring or a giant pretzel.
In Denmark, they’re served on a big platter on special occasions, especially for birthdays when they’re called fødselsdagskringle. But they’re just as likely to be eaten and enjoyed with family and friends on a regular Sunday with coffee in hand.
A Danish kringle is made with a very rich yeast dough rolled thinly and wrapped around a sweet almond filling. Before baking, it’s topped with sliced almonds and pearl sugar or turbinado sugar, which toasts and caramelizes in the oven. Once cooled, you can drizzle it with icing, or leave it plain with the sparkling sugar.
Tips and Tricks for Making Danish Kringle
The dough is made with yeast but it’s likely that it won’t feel or behave like most yeast doughs that you are used to. The dough is so rich with butter, eggs, and sugar that it will not gain much volume while it’s rising.
The dough is refrigerated directly after mixing, so it is important to use warm milk and room temperature eggs and butter to mix the dough.
The warm milk will activate the yeast so it has a chance to begin working on the dough before the refrigerator cools it down. The milk should be warm to the touch, but not so hot that it burns. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for the yeast. You’ll need to warm the milk in the microwave to 100°F in 15 second intervals. You can use an instant read thermometer to see if the milk is the correct temperature.
While the dough for Danish Kringle is surprisingly easy to mix, it can be a challenge to handle. The dough is rich in butter, eggs, and sugar making it almost similar to cookie dough rather than a typical sweet dough.
The secret to assembling the kringle is to keep the dough cold. While it’s possible to mix the dough and let it rise at room temperature, it will be remarkably easier if you let the dough chill in the refrigerator after mixing. The dough will still stick to the counter while rolling and shaping, but it will stick much less while cold than if you were working with room temperature dough.
You can be generous with the flour while rolling. The dough will absorb much of it, and you can brush off any extra after it’s shaped. I like to use a dough scraper to loosen the dough from the counter without tearing it too much.
Keep the dough in the fridge as you prepare the filling so it can remain cold. The filling is made with almond paste and softened butter which are very different textures, making it difficult to get a smooth filling.
If you’re using an electric mixer, work the ingredients one by one, starting with the almond paste, then beat in the sugar, and finally the butter. If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, it can be easier to mix the filling into a smooth paste with your hand.
How to Shape a Danish Kringle
While traditionally shaped like a giant pretzel, a kringle is often shaped into a ring or a stick as well. The ring shape strikes a balance between being beautiful to present and easier to shape.
After rolling and filling the kringle, you can choose from three traditional shapes: a ring, pretzel, or stick.
To shape the ring: Carefully place the kringle dough seam side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bring the two ends together, arranging the kringle gently and neatly into an “O.” Seal the two ends together by brushing with a bit of water and pressing the seams together.
To form a pretzel: Carefully transfer the kringle dough seam side down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. First, gently stretch the log to taper the ends a little so the knot isn’t too thick. The middle should be slightly thicker than the two ends. Start by making a “U” shape, then curve the left strand down to meet the bottom-right of the “U.” Then cross the right strand over the top of the left stand to meet with the bottom-left of the “U,” forming the pretzel shape. Gently pinch the seams together to seal. Danish pretzels only have one twist.
To form the simplest shape, a stick: I like to divide the dough and the filling in half and shape two sticks to be baked next to each other on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out to a long, skinny rectangle, about 12 inches by 6 inches. Seal in the filling, just as directed in step 8 below, but also fold up and seal the two small ends. Then flip the sticks seam-side down onto the parchment. The sticks may bake faster, so check them after 15 minutes, adding more time if needed to get the desired color on the crust.
Danish Kringle Optional Add-ins
The most common filling for a Danish kringle is lys remonce, a sweet pastry filling made with almond paste, butter, and sugar. If you’re looking to add something extra, you can try one of these optional add-ins:
- Raisins: Scatter 1/2 cup of raisins over the almond filling before rolling up the pastry or sprinkle them onto the icing before it sets.
- Chopped toasted nuts: Add 3/4 cup of roughly chopped toasted nuts, like walnuts or pecans, to the almond filling.
- Candied citrus peel: Add 1/2 cup of candied citrus peel to the almond filling for sweet citrus notes.
How to Serve a Danish Kringle
A Danish Kringle looks beautiful on a large platter for celebrations and holidays. If it’s for a birthday party, do like the Danes and decorate the kringle with miniature Danish flags. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion though, it’s also very hygge served with coffee on a Sunday afternoon with family and friends.
Kringle is best served within a day or two of baking. Store the kringle in an airtight container or covered in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 5 days. Wrap well in plastic wrap, then foil to freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw on the counter still wrapped and add the icing after it defrosts.
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Special equipment: dough scrapper, rolling pin, thermometer, pastry brush
For the dough
1/2 cup (4 ounces), whole milk
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, divided
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup (227g) unsalted butter, softened and cubed
3 cups (360g) bread flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon salt
For the filling
1/2 cup (130g) almond paste
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
For the toppings
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
1/4 cup (22g) sliced almonds
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
For the icing
1 cup (113g) powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Stand mixer
Warm the milk in the microwave:
Pour the milk into a microwave safe cup or bowl. Heat the milk in the microwave in 15 second intervals until it is warm to the touch but not scalding, about 100°F. If it scalds or burns, then it’s too hot for the yeast. You can also use a thermometer to check the temperature of the milk to be sure it has reached 100°F.
Proof the yeast:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl combine the warm milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Leave the yeast to proof for about 5 to 10 minutes, until it dissolves and begins to bubble and foam.
Make the dough:
Add the remaining sugar, eggs, butter, flour, cardamom, and salt to the milk mixture. Mix on low speed, or by hand with a wooden spoon, until fully combined, about 2 minutes. The dough will be thick, almost like cookie dough.
Chill the dough:
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight. The dough may be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Make the filling:
Before taking the dough out of the fridge to roll, make the almond filling.
Beat the almond paste on low speed in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until it’s broken up. Add the sugar and increase the speed to medium, mixing until the sugar breaks up the almond paste and there are no lumps. Add the butter and beat until it’s creamy and smooth, about 1 minute.
The almond filling resembles buttercream frosting, but is a bit thicker because of the almond paste. Set aside until ready to use.
Roll out the dough:
Take the dough out of the refrigerator and scrape it onto a generously floured work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour.
Before rolling, use your hands to pre-shape the dough by pressing it into a long rectangle. This makes it easier to maintain a rectangular shape when rolling with the rolling pin.
Then, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a long rectangle about 24 inches by 6 inches. Work from the center outwards to each end in one movement each time. This quickly and gently works the dough into the right shape, whereas rolling back and forth would undo some of your work each time you reverse directions.
The dough is delicate and sticky and will stick to your work surface. Pause while rolling to move the dough around and dust with more flour to prevent it from sticking. Keep a dough scraper handy for easily and gently releasing the dough from the counter. If the dough tears, you can patch it together with your fingers.
Add the almond filling:
Spoon the almond filling in a long strip down the center of the rectangle, leaving about a 1-inch margin at both ends.
Enclose the filling:
Use a pastry brush to brush the edges of the dough with water. Fold the long bottom edge up and over the filling, then fold the top edge down, overlapping the bottom edge to enclose the filling completely. Gently press the seam to close. You should end up with a long log.
Shape into a ring:
Place a piece of parchment paper on your work surface next to the kringle. Carefully move the kringle onto the parchment paper placing the seam side down. Pick the whole thing up by the edges of the parchment paper and transfer the kringle and the paper onto a baking sheet.
Form the kringle log into a ring and seal the ends together, brushing with a bit of water and pinching with your fingers to get the seams to stick.
Let the kringle proof at room temperature:
Cover the kringle with a clean tea towel or a piece of plastic wrap and leave it to rise in a warm spot for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The dough will not double, but it should be slightly puffy. It should no longer be cold to the touch.
Arrange oven rack and preheat the oven:
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Add the toppings:
Crack an egg into a small bowl and beat with a tablespoon of water using a fork or a whisk.
Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash over the top of the dough. Scatter a generous handful of sliced almonds and some turbinado sugar all over the top of the kringle.
Bake the kringle:
Bake the kringle for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. The top of the kringle is likely to crack in places and you should see the filling bubbling, but it shouldn’t spill out.
Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the icing:
While the kringle cools, make the icing. In a large bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract.
The icing should be thick but still runny enough to drizzle. If it is too thick, add more milk, one teaspoon at a time until it reaches the desired consistency.
Ice the kringle and serve:
Use a spoon to drizzle the icing all over the kringle. Allow the icing to set before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 35g||45%|
|Saturated Fat 18g||92%|
|Total Carbohydrate 64g||23%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 31g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|