Pretzel shaped or round, Kringle pastry are very Danish. Kringle are also in other northern European countries, but this I know, they are the proud pastry of Denmark. And when Danish immigrants settled in Wisconsin, they became popular in many Danish communities.
In Denmark, they were originally shaped liked a pretzel with the ends overlapped. And it’s an important symbol in Denmark. If you’ve been to Denmark, you would recognize it, the pretzel shape with the royal crown on top hanging above bakery doorways. The symbol like modern day brand recognition, always led me inside a bakery, along with the aromas of fresh baked goods.
But in America, the shape was changed to a simple oval pastry ring. No matter the shape, the pastry takes days to make and is layered with butter.
I was first made aware of Kringle by my neighbor of Danish descent who was from Racine, Wisconsin. Racine is where Danish immigrants settled and Kringle shops are everywhere. Each year when she returned to Racine to visit family, she’d arrive back home carrying Danish Kringle in her luggage. I was not familiar with Kringle, living in Southern California, and when my friend sliced into it, I had a new awakening to my senses.
But Kringle in Tucson, Arizona known for cactus and Mexican food? Yes, at Mona’s Danish Bakery on East Sunrise Drive. Owners and married couple Steve Hashemia and Sherry Fareghi are from Denmark and so is their daughter Mona. When they came to the US, Steve put his Danish baking skills to work and the family opened the bakery.
Steve and Sherry excitedly told me that Steve developed his own dough recipe and uses imported Swedish butter and high-quality flour. The pastries are made by hand in many delicious varieties. I stared at the bakery cases and had been intent on buying a Kringle, but other items caught my eye. Individual cheese Danish, bear claws and oblong Danish coffee cakes were items I pointed to.
Soon Sherry loaded up a box to go as I made my way down each shelf. Since I was travelling home by car for a few hours, she cut the long Danish in half to fit in the box rather than a plastic bag. This turned out to be good because I was able to flip the lid open and tear off a piece during my drive. The buttery flavor and layers of baked dough melted in my mouth.
And Mona’s makes freshly baked breads, too. Breakfast and lunch can be had by means of Danish hard rolls topped with Norwegian salmon or simple butter and jam. The morning I was there, a bicycle riding group gathered at the outside tables and kept popping in for coffee, pastries and friendly chat.
Now that I’m back home, I can take advantage of their shipping across the US. Holiday time is very busy for coffee cakes with cardamom and dried fruits, as well as different flavors of Kringle. It’s time to make my list and order the holiday favorites.
Next time you’re driving through the desert in Tucson, a side trip to Mona’s Danish Bakery is a must. Just make sure you buy extras for you and your neighbors.
Mona’s Danish Bakery
4777 E. Sunrise Dr Ste 113
Tucson, AZ 85718