Kristina Kringle for Lent

My dear friend Emily had a beautiful birthday breakfast for me last year.  We all stayed so long and felt so energized and cared for that we've kept meeting--once in Advent, once for Lent, and our next one will be in Ordinary Time at the end of the summer.

This morning we met to talk and pray, and Emily introduced a mediation around waiting that was beautiful and timely.  It turns out that all eight of us are waiting or in transition.  Some of us are enjoying it, but most are squirming or even suffering.  Thank you, Emily and dear friends, for a morning where we can bear witness with and to each other.  

I brought Kristina Kringle, a pastry that my Mom made at Christmas every year.  When I moved out in college, I found the cookbook at a used bookstore in Bellingham (Alice Bay Cookbook:  A savory sampler from Washington's Skagit Valley) so I could make it whenever I wanted.  My mom has always commented on what a magical and "weird" recipe it is, and it garners oohs and aahs everywhere.  

In this month's Bon Appetit, I noticed that Molly Wizenberg (of Orangette fame) wrote her column on Gougeres, which are made from choux paste, a dough of water, butter, and flour. Then it finally clicked--Kristina Kringle isn't "weird"--it's just choux paste!  And I've been making it for years!

This pastry is hardly Lenten, but it's just as good at Easter as it is on Christmas morning.  Maybe even better.  I have modified the original recipe a bit to make more crust--as the Alice Bay Cookbook outlines it, I've always found that the filling made too much.  This modification makes just enough filling for three dough strips.  I've also added slivered almonds.  My Mom never made it without them.  I don't have a photo of it because I am not yet in the take-photos-for-my-blog-mindset.  I'll get better, I hope.

If you make this for your next cry-fest brunch with friends, I promise you that everyone's sorrows will seem at least a little more bearable.  Happy Holy Week.

Kristina Kringle

1 1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup butter (1.5 cubes)

3 Tb water

1 cup water

1/2 cup butter

1 cup flour

3 eggs

1/2 ts. salt

1/2 ts. almond extract

1/4 c. toasted slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cut together 1 1/2 cups flour and 3/4 cup butter in a food processor until mixtures resembles fine meal.  (You can do this by hand, also.)  Add water and pulse (or mix) well.  Form dough into a ball and divide in thirds.  Using the heel of your hand into 3 two-inch wide strips down the length of a cookie sheet.  You can also make your dough strips longer or wider and just do two, if you want.

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 cup water to a boil  Remove from heat.  Add flour, and stir until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Add salt and extract.  Spread on top of dough strips.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed and slightly golden.  Cool and frost with almond icing and scattered slivered almonds over the top.

Almond Icing

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 Tb milk

1/2 ts almond extract

Combine all four ingredients with a whisk or fork.  Blend until smooth and spread over cooled pastry.  Cut into pieces and get ready for compliments.