Crisp Kringle
Sunday November 28th 2010, 12:26 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Knit

You know those days when you do so many things so outside your normal routine that it feels like you’ve lived a week in the space of a waking?

One of those was that John and I, on a lark, drove up to Burlingame today. He drove; I wound a ball of Malabrigo Rios he’d picked out.

Okay, back up a little.

When I was ten and my family was doing that long drive circling the entire country with a little of Mexico (one afternoon) and Canada (several weeks) thrown in, Maryland to California and around and back that summer, one of the things we apparently did (I don’t remember it) was that we stopped in a Danish bakery in Racine, Wisconsin. (Mom and Dad, correct me if it goes further back than that.) Kringle? What’s that?  …OH!

The end result is that my folks have ordered kringle from that bakery every Christmas for four decades, through a change in generation and ownership quite awhile ago. The bakery does them in a racetrack oval, rather than the traditional pretzel-ish shape, and the things cover an entire cookie sheet: flaky dough rolled in butter to almost phyllo layers, filled with cooked-down fresh fruit or cinnamon pecan. It takes them three days to make them, and for many years you had to order by Halloween for the holiday season or you were plain out of luck.

We carried on the tradition here too about every other year or so, and a few years ago when we did, something was…different.  I checked the ingredients. When did they start cutting corners and putting in hydrogenated fat for part of the butter?

I googled for other bakers; Racine has become famous for kringles over the years.

I asked about the hydrogenated fat issue.

I struck out.

Kringles are a splurge in money and calories, and if they weren’t going to do it right, there was no point. Besides, Michelle can’t eat them anymore anyway.

But they are our tradition.  And Michelle’s not going to be home yet at my birthday.  So with rationalizations in hand, this year I went looking again.  One bakery in Illinois looked promising. One in Solvang quite surprised me–my friend John from Stitches and his wife own the Village Spinning and Weaving shop in Solvang in, judging by the pictures and the addresses, the same building! Small world.

And I found Copenhagen Bakery up in Burlingame, certainly within reach. Hey. Why not try it out?

And so John and I braved the rain and set out on an adventure. We did call ahead to make sure there would actually be one there.

They make the traditional pretzel shape, the traditional almond-paste filling. Only. (At least that they call by that name.)  I guess our fruit-filled oval ones were like chow mein in San Francisco: changed/reinvented by immigrants after they landed in the States. I explained to the woman at Copenhagen why we were experimenting and trying out their kringle and I asked if they put any hydrogenated fats in it?

She was horrified. No!

This evening, I finally closed the box to keep the three of us from finishing off the entire pastry in one day.

As for the yarn? John had said he needed me to go buy him a hat, and I was surprised and amused and countered that we had a ton of hats right here. Some Assembly Required. (An amused, *MOM*.) And so he chose the Azules colorway.

He didn’t really want me to post his picture with the hat in progress stuck on his head for measuring, four needle ends waving around his face.

But it is done. He has his hat. And we have a kringle source.

13 Comments so far
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I am sorry Racine failed you, I live a small town where there is a family bakery, Weber’s, they make pear bread around this time of you and you have to preorder it too, good stuff. Since the bakery is within walking distance of where I live it is so tempting to go and get their sweets and other things (cream Puffs).oh the calories! They are right across the street from the meat market, buy local, we do.

Comment by kris 11.28.10 @ 1:00 am

I’m originally from Racine, and during my high school years, I worked in a bakery there, selling kringles. That was before we all knew about hydrogenated fats (’86-’90). It’s rare for me to find someone who knows what a kringle is. Enjoy the splurge — they certainly aren’t health food, but great comfort food.

Comment by Beth 11.28.10 @ 7:02 am

Some of us were in Washington for a Seniornet bash and drove over to Poulsbo. The other ladies went into the fabric shop, while one’s husband and I went into the famous Poulsbo Bakery, to get our sugar and grease. Doughnuts, and other goodies.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 11.28.10 @ 8:41 am

We did indeed stop at a bakery in Racine during that cross-country trip, but it was because we were already fond of kringles. Your Dad had a client from Racine who sent us one for Christmas one year, and we’ve been hooked ever since. We’ve used two Racine bakeries and one Maryland one over the years, but I’ve never seen a kringle in a pretzel shape. The Racine kind are ovals. If they are truly using fake butter, I guess we’ll have to research for a new bakery. Love, Mom

Comment by Mom 11.28.10 @ 9:33 am

I don’t know that I’ve ever had kringles, but the fruit filled ones sound fabulous! I can’t have the almond paste ones. Ah, well.

Comment by Don Meyer 11.28.10 @ 10:58 am

It’s always a good question – are the calories worth it? And I agree with the answer – butter calories are!

Comment by twinsetellen 11.28.10 @ 12:41 pm

So glad to hear that your tradition is saved!

Comment by Pam 11.28.10 @ 2:52 pm

Tradition is….tradition! All calories aside, you GOTTA do it. Smiling at the thought of your non-poser (in hat, with sticks) and thinking of my own missing hat model.Ah well, San Antonio should be loverly in January.

Comment by Ruth 11.28.10 @ 3:07 pm

Ouch… I’m glad you found a new source though. I used to have my hometown honey bring treats from our bakery when I was in college (DC, and he worked in Montgomery County so we had dinner most Wednesdays), but they too now use GREASE… or at least their goods are now greasy. Sigh.

Comment by Channon 11.28.10 @ 3:56 pm

Yup, mom’s right, we had had kringles before, but Dad wanted to scope out where he could get the best ones, where he could get mail order,and that led to our yummy tradition, they have sent us some on occasion–we included kringle in Roseanne’s post-Christmas wedding celebration here, courtesy of Dad.
Also, we were not in Canada for ‘weeks’ on that trip, it just seemed like forever because the trailer broke down and stranded us in Moose Mountain Provincial Park for several days–enough to cost us our venture into Vancouver, and our planned stay in Banff on the way. Dad had a firm date to be in Seattle for business, and so we came to the sight of the Vancouver, B.C. skyline, got out and gazed, and turned south. I didn’t get to Vancouver until I was married and living in Seattle. We took the folks to Vancouver, Victoria, and the (WA)San Juan Islands on one of their visits here. Gorgeous.


Comment by Marian 11.28.10 @ 4:59 pm

Okay, everybody who has a sister will laugh over our back-and-forth here, but, I just called the folks. We did indeed spend at least two weeks in Canada. And I remember my father declaring, as we arrived at Banff and the lake came into sight, that Lake Louise was considered the most beautiful lake in the world.

Given that Dad grew up spending his summers at Tahoe, this was a highly unexpected and memorable thing for my own father to be saying. I never forgot it and I never forgot the sight of that lake–and the fact that it snowed on the Fourth of July while we were there.

And yes, the camping trailer broke down and stranded us at Moose Mountain for awhile. We were there at that campground at least ten days altogether, the folks say.

Comment by AlisonH 11.28.10 @ 6:10 pm

I taught a beginning knitting class a few weeks ago, and the students chose Rios for their training hats. (I’d recommended Cascade 220, just because it’s cheap and easy, but they insisted on the Malabrigo. Good instincts there.) One of the ladies chose the Azules colorway; her proto-hat was so beautiful I had to resist stealing it. Good taste in yarn must run in your family!

Comment by Lanafactrix 11.29.10 @ 11:02 am

What was the name of the bakery in Racine? A friend of ours, who is also in the Navy, lived in Racine while he was stationed at Great Lakes, and his wife worked at a Danish bakery up there. Sorry they’ve switched away from butter!

Comment by Serena Rother 11.29.10 @ 2:16 pm

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