Warning: This is not your father's kringle. Or your grandma's.

It's not the kringle you'd buy in Copenhagen. Or in Racine, Wisconsin, home of Racine Danish Kringles - “Always the best.” Check out their 28 flavors at kringle.com.

THIS kringle is beyond decadent, a dense, moist pastry base covered with flaky layers of buttery dough, topped with a thick ooze of caramel, a heavy layer of toasted pecans, and drizzled with rich, thick icing.

This is MY kringle story, and I'm sticking to it.

Now, before you kringle connoisseurs jump to the defense of Wisconsin's Finest, let me just tell you I'm a Wisconsin native – born in Madison, a certified Cheesehead.

I admit, I was raised here in New England. But culinarily speaking, brats and lutefisk, cheese curds and kringle are in my genes.

Which (hopefully) gives me license to dub around with (read: simplify) the kringle preparation process. While at the same time complicating its toppings (read: make them ridiculously rich).

If you've always thought kringle was something you had to buy at the bakery (or online), I'm here to disabuse you of that notion. THIS kringle is easy enough for a 10-year-old to make.

Which is why we call it The Easiest Butter-Pecan Kringle Ever.

Can you do it? Well, I guess. Kringle, kringle, yes yes YES!

img_3256.JPG

You love caramel? That butterscotch-y, buttery, sugary, smooth-textured, melt-in-your-mouth treat?

We did a taste test; picked our favorite; and offer it by the block: 18 ounces, or the value-priced 5 pounds, for those of you REALLY into caramel.

This caramel not only has great flavor, but it's “scoopable,” making it really nice to use. You don't have to hack at it when you need, say, 1/2 cup; just use a spoon to scoop it into a measuring cup, and pack it down.

img_3852.JPG

And here are some more of my favorite kitchen pals: extra-strong flavors. As you can see by the succession of label styles, we've had these around the test kitchen a long time. They don't go bad, they don't get weak, and you only use a little, compared to extracts. Any of these three flavors is a good choice for the kringle you're about to make.

img_3825.JPG

“3 large eggs, at room temperature." HA – you didn't read through the recipe before starting, did you? Whoops – neither did I!

An easy way to bring fridge-cold eggs to room temperature quickly is to submerge them in hot tap water for 10 minutes or so.

OK, let's dive in. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

img_3824.JPG

Combine 1/2 cup butter, cut into pats; 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. If you're using salted butter, reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon.

img_3826.JPG

Mix till unevenly crumbly.

img_3827.JPG

Drizzle in 1/4 cup ice water. Yes, this is akin to making pie crust.

img_3828.JPG

Line a baking sheet or 14” shallow pizza pan with parchment.

I'm using our new anodized USA Pans pizza pan here, a pan I've been dying for us to get in stock. The pan is anodized, which means it's electrically treated to create a very thin, very tough outer coating (of its own aluminum), an invisible coating that's corrosion- and scratch-resistant, and non-reactive with foods.

Translation? The pan isn't coated per se, so there's nothing to peel or chip. But unlike most plain aluminum, it won't give food a metallic taste, and after a few uses it becomes quite stick-resistant, all on its own. Plus its dark color makes the BEST pizza crust.

So after all that, why am I lining this pan with parchment? Because I don't want my kringle to brown TOO much on the bottom.

img_3829.JPG

Back to the mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to make a soft, sticky dough.

img_3830.JPG

Wet your hands, pick up the dough, and shape it into a 12” x 8” oval ring on the sheet pan; or a 10” ring in the pizza pan. This will be messy going, but just keep wetting your fingers and pushing it into a ring.

img_3831.JPG

Once you've made the ring, flatten the dough so it's about 1 1/2” wide.

img_3832.JPG

Basically, it'll look like a train or NASCAR track.

Set the pan aside.

img_3834.JPG

To make the pastry: Place 1 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a saucepan; use 1/4 teaspoon salt if you're using salted butter. Heat over medium heat till the butter is melted...

img_3837.JPG

...and the mixture comes to a boil.

img_3838.JPG

Immediately pour the boiling liquid over 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, which you've put in a mixing bowl.

img_3839.JPG

Beat until the mixture is cohesive, and starts to form a ball.

img_3840.JPG

Now you're going to beat in 3 large eggs, one at a time.

img_3841.JPG

When you first start beating, the batter will look stringy and slimy.

img_3842.JPG

Eventually it'll smooth out, which means it's ready for you to add the next egg.

img_3843.JPG

Here it is after all 3 eggs have been added – smooth as silk!

Beat in 1/2 teaspoon butter rum flavor, eggnog flavor, or vanilla butternut flavor. Or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

img_3845.JPG

Spread the pastry along the ring.

img_3846.JPG

Cover it completely, edge to edge and all the way around.

img_3848.JPG

You'll now have a much wider ring, though it won't be closed in the center; it should still look like a ring.

img_3849.JPG

Bake the kringle for 50 to 60 minutes...

img_3853.JPG

...till it's a mellow golden brown.

img_3856.JPG

Don't under-bake; err on the side of darker rather than lighter. In retrospect, I should have baked this longer.

When the kringle is done, remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely on the pan. This is a good opportunity to toast 2 cups pecan halves; they'll need about 9 to 11 minutes in the 350°F oven. When they're golden, remove them from the oven and cool.

Have the pecans all ready beside the pan of kringle; you'll be sprinkling them atop the caramel as soon as you pour it on.

img_3867.JPG

Place 12 ounces caramel, cut from a block (about 1 cup, packed); or about 3 dozen individual SOFT caramel candies in a microwave-safe spouted cup, if you have one; it's not necessary, but makes it easier to pour.

If you use caramel candies, be advised that the wrapped ones you find on the supermarket shelf will set up hard, too hard to be pleasant in this application. Stir in a couple of tablespoons milk or cream, when melting, to remedy this. Or, substitute soft candy-store caramels, or 1 cup prepared caramel sauce.

Melt the caramel till it's bubbly, remove it from the microwave, and quickly stir a few times to smooth out the bubbles.

img_3868.JPG

Immediately drizzle the melted caramel or caramel sauce over the kringle. If it stiffens up, reheat briefly in the microwave.

img_3872.JPG

Use it all up; yes, it's a heavy coating.

img_3878.JPG

Sprinkle/arrange the pecans atop the caramel, pressing them in gently.

img_3884.JPG

You can barely see the pastry; that's fine. As my dad used to say, “Nothing in moderation – everything to excess!”

Allow the caramel to cool completely before moving on to the final step: the glaze.

img_3885.JPG

To make the glaze: Stir together 1 cup confectioners' or glazing sugar; a pinch of salt; and 2 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half, or milk, or enough to make a thick but pourable glaze.

img_3892.JPG

Add 1/8 teaspoon butter rum, eggnog, or vanilla butternut flavor, if you like (I like).

img_3893.JPG

Drizzle the glaze over the kringle.

img_3896.JPG

As I said at the beginning: Oh... my... goodness.

img_3930.JPG

Serve in wedges. SMALL wedges; it's rich.

And try not to mess up the glaze-drizzling, like I did. See that puddle, upper right? I was drizzling with one hand, taking a picture with the other, and just drizzled too long in one spot. WHATEVER.

img_3909.JPG

See that moist center? Those flaky layers?

img_3920.JPG

OK, this isn't the MOST traditional kringle. But oh... my... goodness, is it decadent.

It's not really breakfast... not even really dessert. Think of it as an afternoon pick-me-up, perfect with a cup of coffee; or a post-shopping stress-reliever, an “I got all my shopping done and I'm going to treat myself to something ridiculously good” treat.

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for The Easiest Butter-Pecan Kringle Ever.

PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, three dogs, and really good food!

View all posts by PJ Hamel