My father, Francis Wall, was born in Mississippi, married in New Mexico, and did his PhD in Minnesota. For as long as I can remember, he made this kringle every Christmas. Family lore says he got the recipe in Minnesota, where Scandinavians live, but that as a Dixie/desert boy he substituted dates for the original raisins. The result is pure genius.
When Dad passed away in 2007, this kringle was mentioned at his funeral vastly more than any other aspect of his life. People just loved it. My sister Karen took up the mantle, making as many as 48 of them each Christmas. Karen succumbed to ALS in the summer of 2018, so there will be a lot fewer of Dad's kringles in the world going forward.
I usually make four or eight each year myself. They are really good. Because I am no baker, and kind of a doof, I have reorganized Dad's recipe (without changing it) to make it harder to forget some critical step, like adding the yeast. (Yes, I've done that.)
I hope Dad's kringle will still be around a hundred years from now.
Makes four kringles. (Each serves two to eight people. Yes, that's what I said.)
THE DAY BEFORE:
Step 1. Take all the butter out of the refrigerator.
Step 2. Make the date filling as follows:
Warm in a medium sauce pan:
stirring constantly so it doesn't stick.
- 12 oz chopped dates
- 3/8 cups butter (3/4 of a stick)
- 1/2 tablespoon cardamom
When the mixture is a very thick goo, add:
- 3 c powdered sugar
- enough half&half or cream to make a spreading consistency when cool (might be as much as a cup)
Step 3. Make the butter slabs.
- 1 1/8 cups butter (2 1/4 sticks)
blending well. Divide this mixture into two equal parts.
- 3/4 cup flour
Put one of the halves in the center of an 18-inch sheet of wax paper. Cover with a similar sheet and gently press the mixture until it is flat and about 8x12 inches. Repeat this for the other half of the butter mixture. Put these in the refrigerator to cool and harden.Get some rest; you have a big day tomorrow!
Step 4. On BAKING DAY, take filling out of the refrigerator. Plan the rising area: about 80F. I am pretty fussy about this; I set aside the guest room and bring in a space heater and a thermometer.
Step 5. Make the dough ball.
- 2 pkg active dry yeast (about 4 teaspoons)
- 3/8 cup warm water
until thick and piled softly. (Research suggests that this term is used for beating egg whites, not whole eggs. I beat it until I can lift the beater out of the eggs and what dribbles down leaves a visible shape on the surface for at least a few seconds, and then to be sure I beat it a while longer.)
- 2 large eggs
until the dry ingredients are dissolved. Transfer the contents to a food processor if you have one. Blend in
- 1 1/8 cup milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups flour
Next, stir in the yeast mixture. (This is very important!)
Keep adding flour until it forms a clean ball.
- 3 cups flour
Step 6. Knead the dough ball.
Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface and knead it for a few minutes, adding flour if needed. Divide the dough ball into two equal parts.
Step 7. Roll and fold.
Roll out half of the dough ball to a rectangle at least 12x16 inches. The dough should be quite thin, perhaps 1/4 inch thick.
Peel the wax paper from one of the butter slabs and place it in the middle of the dough rectangle. Fold the edges of the dough to cover the butter slab. Save the wax paper, butter side up, to use in the rising (step 9).
Fold a third of the dough toward the middle and the other third on top of that. Turn and roll out to a rectangle about 8x16 inches. Repeat the folding and turning and rolling two or three more times. Wrap the dough in the wax paper and set aside.
Repeat this process for the other half of the dough and the other butter slab.
Put both pieces of rolled-out dough in the refrigerator to cool for one hour.Don't just kick back for that hour: commence Step 8, and do some cleanup!
Step 8. Revive the date filling.
Make sure the date mixture is spreadable. Soften it by warming it slightly and adding more half&half or cream as needed. It should be a little warm to the touch but not hot, as this will kill the yeast. Likewise it shouldn't be too cold as this will impede the rising.
Don't just turn it on low and go away! It won't burn, but it will caramelize and harden, not nice for the filling.
Step 9. Final assembly.
and mix with
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds (2 ounces)
Grease the baking sheets.
- 1 cup sugar
Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and roll each half into a rectangle 24x12 inches. Cut each rectangle lengthwise and spread all four pieces with the date mixture. Fold the dough lengthwise to cover the date mixture.
Transfer the rolls to the greased baking sheets. They may be stretched slightly and formed into pretzels or moons or just left straight (if you have really big cookie sheets).
Gently flatten dough to 1/2 inch thickness. This is important, since you want to let it rise until it doubles (see Step 10), and it won't if you don't flatten it first.
and brush the tops of the four pastries. Sprinkle the tops with the almond-sugar mixture.
- 1 egg (or maybe 2)
Step 10. Let rise.
Cover with greased wax paper and a towel. Let rise in a warm place until double.
Step 11. Bake.
Bake at 325 F until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.