If you just want a recipe for maybe the best nordic cake of all time just scroll down to the recipe. If you are a nerd like me and like a bit of history with your pastry keep reading.
Kringle has a very, very long history in the Nordic countries with origins dating back to the 7th century in Roman Catholic Italy from where the curiously shaped bread (supposedly it is reminiscent of arms crossed in prayer) spread throughout Northern Europe in the 13-14th century.
Somewhere down the line a brilliant cook decided to make it sweet and filled the dough with a buttery, sugary almond paste. Hooray! Most bakeries mostly sell kringler made with a Danish pastry dough, but I personally prefer it with an enriched dough.
The traditional filling is a "remonce", a luxurious mix of marzipan, butter and sugar, sometimes with raisins added to the filling. While the classic remonce is lovely, I do love playing around with it either swapping out marzipan for a different sweetened nut paste (walnuts or pistachios are absolutely lovely) or adding spices, herbs or zests. Really, everything that plays well with nuts and makes you happy.
I have the original recipe from a Danish journalist, and it has become quite legendary here as "Sarah's kringle". Whenever it is served people go bananas over it and ask for the recipe. Thankfully she shares it with all who ask and it has also found its way to several Danish foodblogs. I love that it is surprisingly easy to make, but looks like a lot of work. And I have yet to meet someone who doesn't sneak eat the still warm leaked remonce filling from the pan when I have my back turned..
I made this particular kringle for my son's birthday party today, but since the guests for the most parts were the grandparents and aunties I could take the filling in a bit more grown up direction than a children's birthday party. So I made an almond remonce filling with ground coffee beans, orange zest and a handful of chopped toasted almonds for a bit of texture. These flavours complement each other well and cut through the sweetness of the marzipan.
With every kringle there is a chance of volcanic leakage. Adding the flour helps a lot, but your kringle will probably leak a little even so. But dont worry! It doesn't matter. Most of the filling will stay inside where it is supposed to. And really the leakage is my favourite part: the baker's share. It is my reward for baking a kringle to begin with! And its all mine, if someone doesn't sneak out and eat it while my back is turned. This happens a lot around here...
Kringle with coffee and orange remonce
Adapted from Sarah Skarum
12g fresh yeast (converting to instant dry yeast)
50ml whole milk
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
250g all-purpose flour
125g unsalted butter, softened
100g almond paste
100g unsalted butter, softened
15g all purpose flour
25g toasted, finely chopped almonds
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. finely ground coffee beans
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 beaten egg for eggwash
3-4 Tbsp. almond slivers
3-4 Tbsp. pearl sugar
Dissolve the yeast in the whole milk, then whisk in sugar, egg and salt. Alternately mix in butter and flour until dough comes together. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes. Put in a clean bowl, cover lightly and leave to rise for 1 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile make the remonce filling. Mix together butter and sugar until just combined, then mix in flour, almond paste, chopped almonds, salt, coffee beans and orange zest. Taste and season to your liking.
Make a 1m log of the dough and roll it out so it is 10cm/4inch wide. Place the remonce in the center of the dough rectangle and flatten it so it is about 2cm 3/4 inch wide. Fold the two sides over the remonce and press gently to close. Shape the kringle like a pretzel and gently place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Brush the entire surface of the kringle with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar and almond slivers. Leave to rise for another 2 hours then bake at 200C for 18-20 minutes.