Traditional Treats

December is one of the best times to visit bakeries, where the sweet smells are nearly as good as the rich taste of Hanukkah doughnuts, Mexican buñuelos, Danish kringles, Italian panettone and spiced German cookies. No matter your background, you’ll want to bite into these seasonal sweets.

A buttery, flaky puff pastry. An almond filling. A sugar glaze and a sprinkling of toasted almonds. Kris Vesth, owner of Pastries of Denmark, has been baking kringles for 22 years; his family in Kjellerup, Denmark has been in the biz since 1890. These pretzel-shaped coffee cakes traditionally use an almond filling, but Vesth’s bestseller is apple-cinnamon – though numerous choices, including raspberry, cherry-chocolate, apricot and cream cheese, are available to complete the Christmas buffet. Pastries of Denmark, 12613 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, 314.469.7879.

Galette des Rois
Keep the festive eating going even into the new year. A French king cake of almond cream filling sandwiched between rounds of puff pastry is a magnifique way to celebrate Epiphany, the 12th day of Christmas. A galette des rois is typically baked with a trinket inside; order from La Bonne Bouchée, and one lucky eater will find a tiny porcelain figurine imported from France. La Bonne Bouchée, 12344 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur, 314.576.6606.

Call ’em sufganiyot or Hanukkah doughnuts, we call ’em delicious. The Pratzel family has been baking these popular jelly doughnuts for nearly 100 years. Third-generation owners Ronnie and Elaine Pratzel traditionally sprinkle them with white powdered sugar, but a simple glaze icing is an option. Available in two sizes – order a dozen of both! Pratzel’s Bakery, 10405 Old Olive Street Road, Creve Coeur, 314.991.0708.

Buñuelos mexicanos
Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) wouldn’t be the same without these crispy rounds of deep-fried dough coated with cinnamon and sugar or powdered sugar, then drizzled with (or drenched in) hot syrup made from melted piloncillo, an unrefined brown sugar that some might call Mexico’s gift to bakers. Diana’s Bakery, 2843 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.771.6959.

This sweet yeast bread is of Milanese origin, but it’s a Christmas classic for Italians everywhere. What could be more celebratory than a tall, puffy, round bread studded with raisins and candied citron? Missouri Baking Co., 2027 Edwards St., St. Louis, 314.773.6566.

This seasonal, anise-flavored German biscuit has been around since the Middle Ages. Traditional recipes call for hartshorn, also known as baker’s ammonia, as a leavening agent rather than baking soda. The dough is rolled, stamped with a mold to leave a raised image on the face of the cookies, and then left to dry before baking. Springerle images were once primarily themed around religion and heraldry (the name means “little knight”), but they’ve given way to happiness, hearth and, of course, Christmas. Federhofer’s Bakery, 9005 Gravois Road, St. Louis, 314.832.5116.

A dose of ground pepper is what gives pfeffernüsse (the name translates to “peppernut”) its punch. The tiny spice cookie sports a dark interior from cinnamon, cloves, and brown sugar or molasses that contrasts beautifully with an angel white dusting of confectioner’s sugar and which makes these German Christmas cookies a must for the post-caroling cookie platter. Lubeley’s Bakery and Deli, 7815 Watson Road, Shrewsbury, 314.961.7160.

For recipes from this feature, as well as recipes for other simple holiday sweets from the Sauce staff, visit the Extra Sauce section of