Sunday, December 9, 2012

Almond Kringler for St. Lucia day

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...St. Lucia Day's is nearly here and because I've exhausted the recipes usually associated with the holiday, I've decided to feature a few other Scandinavian treats that would be perfect for her feast day. The reasons that might explain why the world's only practicing Catholic, Quaker, Buddhist celebrates a Swedish holiday are many, but their roots can be found in a childhood friendship and adventures shared with Claire, whose story can be found here. Claire, loved crisp, crumbly pastries and she'd be an enormous fan of the almond kringler that I'm featuring today. Its origins are fuzzy. Some insist the cake is a Danish creation while others contend it's Swedish through and through. I strongly suspect the real truth can be found in the test kitchens of Betty Crocker, but more of that later. We do know that in the late 1800's a group of Danish immigrants settled in Wisconsin and brought with them a filled pastry they called a kringle. Their kringle was originally pretzel-shaped, but over time it morphed into a circular or rectangular form. It's country of origin also became cloudy, with some boldly attributing creation of the crisp and buttery pastry to the Swedish. The impass might never have ended had Betty Crocker not introduced American homemakers to her "Danish Puff" cake in the late 1960's. The original recipe, found here, immediately became popular and it is still treasured by many who consider it to be a family heirloom. The cake, which is buttery and flakes like a true Danish, is incredibly easy to make and looks like it was made by a pastry chef. The kringler is delicious and I highly recommend this recipe to all of you who have not yet made it. I used the version developed for the King Arthur website. It adds a layer of jam to the cake that was not part of the original recipe. It is also less sweet because it uses less glaze. I really hope you will give the almond kringler a try. You won't regret it and it would be perfect way to start to your Christmas morning. Here's how is made.

Almond Kringler...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of King Arthur Flour


First Layer
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter*, cut into pats or 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup water
*If you're using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Second Layer
1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter*
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, at room temperature; warm them, in the shell, in hot tap water for 10 minutes if they're cold from the fridge
1 teaspoon almond extract
*If you're using unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
2/3 cup jam or preserves
1/2 to 2/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted in a 350 degree F oven for about 7 to 10 minutes, or until they're a light, golden brown
1/2 cup confectioners' or glazing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 teaspoons milk or water (approximately)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a large cookie sheet.
2) To make first layer: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine butter, flour, and salt (if you're using it), working butter into flour with a pastry blender or fork, your fingers, or a mixer. Mix until everything is crumbly, then stir in water. Dough will become cohesive, though not smooth. Divide dough in half; if you're using a scale, each half will weigh about 4-5/8 ounces. Wet your hands, and shape each piece of this wet dough into a rough log. Pat logs into 10 x 3-inch rectangles on sheet, leaving at least 4-inches (but preferably 6") between them, and 2" on each side. These puff up in oven and you need to leave them room for expansion.
3) To make second layer: In a medium-sized saucepan, bring water and butter to a boil. Stir until butter melts, then add flour (and salt, if you're using it) all at once. Stir mixture with a spoon till it thickens, begins to steam, and leaves sides of pan; this will happen very quickly.
    Transfer dough to a mixing bowl, or bowl of an electric mixer. Beat it at medium speed for 30 seconds to 1 minute, just to cool it down a bit. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; beat until dough loses its "slimy" look, and each egg is totally absorbed. Mix in almond extract.
    Divide batter in half. Spread half of batter over one of dough strips on pan, covering it completely. Repeat with remaining batter and dough. With a spatula (or your wet fingers) spread batter until it completely covers entire bottom layer of dough. Smooth it out as best you can.
    Bake pastry for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it's a deep golden brown. Remove it from oven, and transfer each pastry to a wire rack.
4) To make third layer: Spread each warm pastry with about 1/3 cup of jam or preserves. (Any flavor is fine, but our favorites are raspberry and apricot.) Sprinkle toasted almonds atop jam. By this time, your beautifully puffed pastries are probably starting to sink; don't worry, this is to be expected.
5) To make icing: Stir together sugar, vanilla, and enough milk or water to form a thick but "drizzlable" icing. Drizzle icing atop pastries. Cut into squares or strips to serve. Yield:12 to 16 servings.

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Katarina said...

This looks so delicious!

Lucia from Madison said...

The photo looks like it is super difficult. But it your recipe makes it sound easy! If I have time I want to try this. Always a sucker for St. Lucia treats! Thanks for sharing the recipe.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Isn't St Lucia's day the 6th? Anyway - this looks totally delicious!

Kim said...

I am ignorant about this danish pastry and all the story about it... I'm lucky you are here to tell me the stories. Love this beautiful treat, it looks really good... I often relly on King Arthurs recipes, they are almost perfect!

Nathalia said...

Hola Mary: Muy interesante tu receta. Se ven increibles estos pastelitos. Una verdadera delicia para santa LucĂ­a :)
Un abrazo y feliz domingo

Mary Bergfeld said...

Foodycat, December 13th is the feast day Of St. Lucia.

David said...

Mary, That is one beautiful looking almond kringler! I could eat 3 or 4 hunks of that with my morning coffee... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Claudia said...

I love your introductions, Mary. There indeed have been so many variations. The layer of jam is a perfect addition. Less glaze and more jam sings.

Eileen said...

Oh, this looks delicious. It looks like it would be hard to make, though your recipe doesn't sound like it's super difficult.

Ginny Hartzler said...

Just this (and plenty of it) with a hot drink would be a superb breakfast!

Gerlinde in Washington said...

I wasn't familiar with St. Lucia day, but when I googled it and came across images of Lucy wearing a crown of lit candles on her head, a white gown and red sash, I remembered a picture of Lucia from my childhood. It's always interesting to me how one can forget something so completely and then something like this can trigger a memory, lost for decades.

Your almond kringle look really delicious, and your recipe for them seems easy enough to give them a try sometime. :)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

It sounds crispy and delicious Mary and perfect for the holidays.

A Sunflower Life said...

No matter this recipe's origins, it looks delicious. I'll be teaching my preschoolers about St. Lucia day on Wednesday. I wonder if they would like this for snack time?

Joanne said...

This is so impressive.

Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

It is a beautiful thing - and you get all ooohhh's and aaaahhhh's from me! Absolutely beautiful :)

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

I had to chuckle a bit in your intro Mary, . . . Catholic, Quaker, Buddhist; now that's quite the combination. My kids have some Swedish in them so we bake Swedish kringla (little sweet pretzels) for Christmas. I need to bake more for Santa Lucia's Day! Thanks for the reminder!

Cindy said...

Well Mary I am a Mormon! And I don't really know about St. Lucia (but my fathers grandfather came from Sweden so maybe I should)!
This dessert looks delicious and I think I could make it. When my kids get here for Christmas I will try it. Have a wonderful Holiday Season!

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