So what is a “kringle”, exactly?

It’s a shape, at least in Denmark. An upside-down (to us Americans at any rate) pretzel. This symbol, which is usually cast in gold with a crown on top, means “bakery” for the Danes. It’s a guild symbol, one of the few that are still in use in Europe these days.

You find this generic shape applied to any number of sweet and savory baked items in Denmark. There are salty kringles (what we know as pretzels), sugar kringles (cookies or pretzels sprinkled with sugar), kringle breads and of course the large kringle pastry we’re talking about this week.

The funny thing about those Danish pretzel-shaped kringles is that the word “kringle” in old Norse actually means “ring”. But it’s usually American kringles that are ring-shaped. Which means that our Wisconsin knock-off kringles are in their own way more authentic than the real thing, which is a bit confusing.

But then the Danes don’t own kringles anymore than the French own baguettes. Laminated dough, just like long, white, fluffy, quick-rising loaves, were invented in Vienna. And when you get right down to it, the pretzel shape itself isn’t Danish, it’s a southern European creation, brought to Denmark by Catholic monks. And if you really want to keep heaping excrement on the Danes, their gold-y, pretzel-y, crown-y guild sign wasn’t theirs to begin with, either. They ripped it off from the Germans!

So who’s inauthentic now, suckas? That’s right, don’t mess with me! I’ve got a food history library and I’m not afraid to use it! Oh yeah, I’m kickin’ can and takin’ names today, kids…look out below!

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10 Responses to So what is a “kringle”, exactly?

  1. Linda says:

    HA. Sounds like Joe is a little feisty today in his blogs. Loving the kringles series.

    • joepastry says:

      Thanks, Linda! I was up late last night what with the front moving through, so I guess I have a short fuse. ;)

      - Joe

  2. lisa says:

    Can’t wait to try my hand at kringle. Thanks, Joe.

    To be fair to the Danes, though, I believe that the laminated dough pastries we call Danishes, they call “vienerbrod” which does give the h/t to Vienna.

    • joepastry says:

      Indeed. Thanks, Lisa!

      - Joe

    • Jo says:

      Thanks for sticking up for us Danes, Lisa!

      PS to Joe, sadly we don’t have salty kringles in Denmark. As a result, for me, the first stop on any trip to Germany or Switzerland is at the nearest pretzel vendor.

      • joepastry says:

        No kidding! Clearly I got some bad information there, Jo. I stand corrected!

        Thanks for the help in spite of my giving you grief, Jo. ;)

        - Joe

  3. Frankly says:

    Perhaps its proximity to the Vikings that is causing you to be more feisty and not the weather!

  4. Theresia says:

    What is a laminated dough?

    • joepastry says:

      Hey Theresia! It’s any flaky pastry dough. Puff pastry, croissant dough, Danish dough. They call it that because it’s a stack of alternating layers: dough, butter, dough butter, dough butter…

      Thanks for the question!

      - Joe

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