Mom has made Norwegian Kringle (pronounced kring-la) for as long as I can remember. I love kringle, and even though I don’t make it very often, I don’t consider a special-occasion treat. These are good anytime! These are nothing like the Danish Kringle that you find in the stores – the filled pastry made in a giant oval. Nope, these are a sweet bread, but would probably be closer to a pretzel than Danish Kringle.
There are two different recipes that we have used. Kringle #1 is the recipe Mom always made and it came from my Grandma Nora. It has just a hint of sweetness, and we always ate them with butter smeared on the back (everything Norwegian is better with butter! unless it’s Lutefisk, which isn’t good with anything!) Kringle #2 is the Nuland household favorite. Mom says this one came from a neighbor in Rochester. It’s even sweeter than #1 and tastes just fine without the butter. I can eat tons of these a day!
I’ve made enough of these over the years, I feel I can offer some helpful tips. The biggest tip is to make sure you do not add too much flour to the batter! This is especially crucial for recipe #1, since that tends to be drier anyway. The dough should be pretty sticky when you start to work with it. It’s more “pouring” the batter onto your work surface rather than making a bread ball. I just make sure I have plenty of flour on the surface and sprinkle a bit more on top before flattening.
There are certain tools when making these that can be your best friend! One – it’s nice to have a scoop or small bowl with flour in it so it’s available at all times to sprinkle on your hands or the dough when it gets sticky. Two – having a scraper tool to help make sure the dough doesn’t stick to your work surface. And three – using a plastic pizza cutter like the one shown here. I wouldn’t want to ruin my nice stone countertop with a metal cutter, but pizza cutters are so nice to create strips of dough! I know I show several strips cut at once, but this last time I made them I learned a new trick (we need to keep learning, right?). I used the scraper to make sure the ends (sides) were not sticking, cut ONE strip, and placed that on the baking sheet. I found that if I tried to do too many at once, they started to stick together again. And if I cut and then scraped, my cut would also disappear or it was hard to keep the strip from being horribly misshapen. So the trick is Scrape, Cut, Shape.
I also learned this time that you really don’t need to bring out the rolling pin. The dough is quite soft, and since they’re a rustic kind of bread, it’s perfectly fine to just pat them into a semi-square shape. And since the dough is soft, once you pick it up off the work surface, you need to quickly get it onto the baking sheet. Then shape either into a B or figure-8. Mom always did B’s, so that’s what I do :). As you can see, they aren’t “pretty”, but I think the rustic look makes them just as appealing. Size of the final piece doesn’t matter – it’s more important that you try to keep the same width of strips – thin strips will cook faster of course and may over-bake before the thicker ones are done cooking.
The kringla are done baking when they just start to turn a little golden brown around the edges. The ones in this picture are actually over-baked. I think it’s easier to bake the #1 recipe ones too long – and they are a drier bread to begin with!
These are done to perfection (and they’re also recipe #2). It’s a little difficult to distinguish between the two recipes when you have both, but in my case all the recipe #1 versions look a tad darker and drier (yep, you can see it visibly).
I would guess that if you made these during the summer on humid days, you might want to keep them in a cool location – but the refrigerator would probably dry them out. I’ve never had to worry since a batch never lasts more than a couple of days in our house!
Click here for a PDF version of the recipe: Norwegian Kringle.