In which I share a secret family recipe.

Kringla. When you say that word to anyone that has known my family for a while, you can practically see them salivate.  “I love kringla.” They will always say.  The boys were just having a conversation about how much they loved kringla.  “You just need to say one word when describing kringla.  Yummy!” Nick told me.

For a long time I refused to learn to make kringla because it was something my grandma always made us.  When I called her to tell her that I was going to visit, she’d say “I guess I need to get some sour milk.”  I didn’t learn to make it until my grandma moved into assisted living. And still, I don’t want other people to make it for me.  I don’t really want to hear about it if someone other than family makes it.  I definitely don’t want to hear if someone changes the recipe.  I am sharing this recipe, but reluctantly.  Maybe someday I’ll be ok hearing about what other people do with kringla, but not yet. DSCN2479

A kringla, the way we grew up with them, is a knot of dough that tastes sort of like a sugar cookie and has a crumb kind of between a biscuit and a pancake.  Dry like a biscuit, but softer and less flaky, like a pancake.  It’s easy, it’s simple.  It’s like a hug.

I had a boyfriend in college who told me his grandma made kringla.  One day, he brought me something in a baggie.  It was a knotted pastry, but it was more like a croissant.  It was good.  It was fine.  It was not kringla.

I don’t remember ever having it fresh from the oven until I started making it myself.  I remember having it handed over to us in a plastic bag that had been rewashed a few times.  The kringla was always pale and dusted with flour.  Biting into it there was always that first dryness of the flour, the softness of that hitting the tongue.  Then there is this sweetness.  It’s vanilla and sugar, but unassuming.  Everything about it is just sort of soft and gentle.  It sort of hits you with subtlety.

I have introduced many, many people to my grandma’s kringla.  They grab the first one from the bag because they are hungry and because they can’t quite believe that I am THAT excited about something that is so modest.  Just a pale gold knot of dough.  It looks bland.  It looks boring.  It looks beige.  It’s not something that will ever challenge the taste buds.  And then they taste it.  They might start the way I do, breaking off the end of the knot and then eating it from one end of the knot to the other.  Savages bite it down the middle.  As they finish, their hand reaches into the bag for another.  They can’t help it.  The next time I mention to them that my grandma is coming to visit they ask if she is bringing kringla.  She didn’t always.  Sometimes it was her chocolate chip cookies, but that’s another story.DSCN2481

Going through the recipes I inherited, I found a copy handwritten by my great-grandma Funk.  I mentioned it to my mom.  “Grandma Funk never made Kringla, that was a recipe your grandma got from Pearl Simpson.”  “I’m pretty sure this is great-grandma’s handwriting.”  “Oh, well then, she must’ve gotten the recipe from your grandma.” She conceded.

I found the cookbook in which Pearl Simpson had published her kringla recipe.  One of those church cookbooks from Iowa where all the women are identified as Mrs. Husband’s Name and then gives the name of the town they lived in.  It’s exactly the sort of cookbook you’d expect from Iowa in the 1950’s, a place where my parents assure me “ketchup was considered spicy.”   DSCN2483

I started texting my siblings and posting on FB whenever I visited with Grandma and got two dozen kringla to eat at a later point, later like in the car on the way home.  I liked to rub it in their faces.  It was mean.  I knew it.  I intend to make it up to them someday.  But for now…I have kringla and I bet you don’t.



19 thoughts on “Kringla”

  1. Actually, I think Grandma Funk got the recipe from mom! I made them for a brunch Iwas having and one of my guests ate the whole plate of them before we even started the meal. She hadn’t had them since she was a kid! -Aunt Diane

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is definitely Grandma Funk’s handwriting but it is from her later years. Is it the same as the published recipe of Pearl Simpson? I’m pretty sure Grandma Funk got the recipe from my mother who got her recipe from Pearl. I can’t remember that Grandma Funk ever made kringla but I do remember Mother taking some to Waterloo.
    I was about Nick’s age the first time I had Kringla and I was not impressed. I thought it was going to be like one of those new fangled pretzels that people were talking about. It isn’t like a pretzel at all. When I understood that it was a Norwegian dessert it made more sense to me in that several of my friends were of Norwegian ancestry and they ate some odd things like lutefisk and lefsa but the meatballs were wonderful even if the were in gravy instead of tomato sauce.
    I have still never made the stuff. The recipe may just skip the generation.
    Do not dunk kringla! It just falls apart and leaves a pile of crumbs in the bottom of your cup. Hold a bite in your mouth and than take a drink. The kringla will sweeten and thicken whatever you are drinking so it slides over your tastebuds a little slower giving you more time to savor the goodness.
    Thanks for the kringla memories now let’s hear about the shrimp and olive pie!


    1. Shrimp and Olive Pie is coming up!

      This is not the same recipe that Pearl Simpson published. Hers uses buttermilk instead of sour milk and calls for it to be baked at 475 for 3 minutes on the middle rack and some time on the top rack for browning.

      You know, since this is a Norwegian Pastry, I wonder why it doesn’t have a huge following in Stoughton…


      1. Just to clarify, from my recollection. Dorothy gave the recipe to Fern. Dorothy used sour milk because she didn’t keep buttermilk around the house, which explains why Fern’s recipe says sour milk. Try it with buttermilk. The taste is a bit sweeter and richer. I always use buttermilk, I buy the powered stuff that keeps in the refrigerator and gets reconstituted when I need buttermilk. DP


      2. I’m sure you are right about the sour milk and the temperature, Diane. It was a money thing. You had to be posh to use buttermilk. Sour milk needed to be used and if you didn’t have any sour milk there was always a little vinegar in milk for 10 minutes.


  3. I also remember mom changing the temp, because she didn’t think 3 minutes was ever long enough to cook anything so she also had to reduce the temp to keep them from burning. Use Pearl’s recipe and notice the difference. I make them all the time and Bruce’s family now loves them as much as the Holley clan.


  4. I have the recipe and have made it occasionally when I miss Grandma. I love this blog. It makes me happy. Paul thinks kringla is “meh” and I think he is insane. He likes it mostly because he knows how special it is to me.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess I’m with Paul on this one. I like it but it never seems like it’s worth the work. All that rolling and knot making aren’t really my bag


  5. For me, it was?is a family deal. I was shaping the dough and Bruce and Chad were taking in and out of the oven. Many happy family memories. NOt really with eating the treats, but working as a team

    Liked by 1 person

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