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Lost classic desserts from our wide and varied past.

American Classics: Kringle

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[Photograph: Alexandra Penfold]

When Danish immigrants settled in Racine, Wisconsin in the late 1800s, they brought with them a tender, buttery, fruit or nut-filled pastry known as the kringle. While kringle is the Danish word for pretzel, these days kringles are typically formed in a large ring or rectangle. Ask a Wisconsinite about kringle and they'll likely have a story or two. When I appealed to my Wisconsin pals to school me in the ways of the kringle, one friend replied with clear directions: "Drive to Racine. Buy Kringle. Scarf down Kringle in car quickly, so as to avoid sharing."

Equally at home as a breakfast treat or a sinful dessert—try kringle à la mode—it's easy to see how these pastries could inspire hoarding behaviors. Traditional recipes typically involve cutting butter into a yeast dough and can take up to three days to prepare.

But if a road trip to Racine isn't in your immediate future, there's hope for the hungry. There is an easier (and certainly not lesser) kringle made with butter, sour cream, and flour that turns out a delicate and delicious pastry in a fraction of the time it takes to make a yeasted kringle. And once you've had a kringle you'll never look at a store-bought regular old Danish the same way again.

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About the author: Alexandra Penfold is mild-mannered children's book editor by day, food ninja by night. Never one to skip dessert she's the Brownie half of Blondie & Brownie and a Midtown Lunch contributor. You can follow her on Twitter at @blondiebrownie.

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