Santa’s Favorite Cookie

photographs and text by Megan Bedford

As a child the basic Kringla was not my favorite holiday cookie, but they were Santa’s, so we made them every year. Now that I am an adult, I imagine Santa appreciated the simplicity of the slightly sweet, soft buttermilk dough after so many sprinkled, powdered, candied confections he’d eaten elsewhere. Unadorned but for a looping twist into a figure eight, it’s always easy to find room for a light and golden Kringla cookie.

These days I depend on Kringla to remind me that it is Christmastime. The recipe is written on a browned index card, in a handwriting that I recognize as my mother’s, before I was born. My aunt informed her that it came from a Lutheran Church Lutefisk and Lefse celebration in Gays Mills, Wisconsin, a town where they spent the first half of their childhood. My mother, for the record, cannot recall the cookies from this Scandinavian fest, only having remembered avoiding “that awful fish.”

Okay, so as an adult, I feel it is my duty to effectively produce my own Kringla. And although I’d consider myself a good cook, I’m not particularly patient when it comes to baking. My mother’s Kringla always appear far superior to my own, so this year I take my time, patiently rolling the dough into uniform logs before shaping them into tidy eights.

The first batch is indeed consistent but shaped too small, so that after baking they have puffed up and lost their holes. My mother says they are “fine” but I am determined to do this right. However even she cannot withhold comment on the second batch that, “look like Dali shaped them.” However, the Kringla emerge from the oven holey, if not a bit gangly. Things get a bit sticky from there since I cannot chill the dough between batches. Real estate in the fridge is at an all time high, so as soon as the bowl of Kringla dough came out it was immediately replaced with a ham.

In the end the Kringla taste as delicious as always. And I’ll keep working on my form. In the meantime, I highly recommend trying a batch yourself. Just be sure to save a couple for Santa, and don’t forget a carrot for Rudolph too.


1 ½  c. sugar
¼  lb. butter (1 stick)
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla
4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda
½ tsp. salt

1)    Cream butter & sugar till smooth. Add egg, buttermilk and vanilla and mix. Add dry ingredients.
2)    Cover with wax paper and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
3)    Roll into balls and form figure 8’s on floured board.
4)    Bake on ungreased sheet at 400 for 12 minutes.
5)    Brush tops with cold water to keep soft.