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Rugbrød -  Dark Rye Bread

Rugbrød – Dark Rye Bread

Rugbrød is a staple in, dare I say, all Danish households and it is the foundation for most pieces of Smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches) whether it be the elaborate pieces bought in restaurants or the common pieces found in the daily Danish lunch box. What makes Rugbrød super healthy is that it is very low in fat, has no oils, no sugars and it is typically loaded with whole grain and fiber. That being said, there are many different versions of Rugbrød, some packed with seeds and grains, others with only the basics.

Sour Dough Starter

Sour Dough Starter

Speaking as a Dane living in the US, the lack of Rugbrød can be a source of frustration and so you have to adapt. Either you go without, or perhaps you are lucky to live close to a place where they sell a dried-out version of Rugbrød or you bake it yourself. And let me tell you that baking it yourself is worth every bit of effort you put into it, I promise! Baking Rugbrød is not difficult at all but it takes planning. It’s sometimes difficult to gather all the special ingredients required and hopefully you have the special size bread pan that everyone in Denmark possess. If not, it can be purchased on amazon.com. And for all the special ingredients I use Bob’s Red Mill products because they carry everything I need. Sometimes I’ll get lucky and find some of the ingrediens at the local supermarket but I usually have to buy the rest online (once again, thank you amazon).

Making Rugbrød

Making Rugbrød

I would like to note that Danish Rugbrød is different than the German Pumpernickel bread and the two words are often a source of confusion when translating the name  into English as Dark Rye bread. Pumpernickel  is darker in color, stronger in flavor and it is steamed for a long period of time to allow the ingredients to caramelize.

Poke holes into dough to allow steam to escape.Brush with water/oil mixture. Baked Rugbrød. Place warm bread in plastic bags to soften crust.

Poke holes into dough to allow steam to escape.
Brush with water/oil mixture. Baked Rugbrød. Place warm bread in plastic bags to soften crust.

How do you maintain your sourdough starter? If you talk to ten different people you’ll likely get ten different answers. This is how I do it. To continue feeding your sourdough starter add 3 oz (1 1/2 deciliter) Dark Rye flour and 5 oz (1 1/2 deciliter) water to remaining sour dough starter, mix and allow to bubble up before storing in refrigerator. Continue to feed starter once a week while in fridge. As a general rule keep it cold when the sourdough starter is resting and at room temperature when it’s getting ready to be used for baking. Remove starter from refrigerator 24 hours before baking your bread and feed it twice (every 8 hours) at room temperature before using.

Feed your Sour Dough Starter. Keep at room temperature until it bubbles up and then refrigerate.

Feed your Sour Dough Starter. Keep at room temperature until it bubbles up and then refrigerate.

Rye Sour Dough Starter

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons dry active yeast

11 oz. water (3 deciliter)

6 oz. Dark Rye flour (3 deciliter)

Directions:

Day 1: heat water to 110 degrees F and remove from heat. Sprinkle yeast over water, give a quick stir and let sit for 10 minutes. Stir Rye flour into yeast mixture until smooth. Cover bowl loosely with a lid and let sit out on your counter at room temperature.

Day 2: add 2 oz. Rye flour and stir (1 deciliter)

Day 3: stir dough.

Day 4: stir dough.

Day 5: in the morning or evening mix 1/2 of the sour dough starter with the following ingredients.

Rugbrød (makes 1 loaf)

Ingredients:

1/2 of the sour dough starter (approx 7 oz. or 1 1/2 deciliter)

9 3/4 oz. Dark Rye flour (275 gram)

12 oz. Cracked Rye (Bob’s Red Mill) (5 deciliter)

10 1/2 oz. Whole Wheat flour (300 gram)

2 3/8 oz. Flaxseeds (1 deciliter)

24 oz. cold water (7 deciliter)

1 tablespoon molasses

1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt

Directions:

Oil a 13 x 4 x 4 inch bread pan and set aside. Mix all of the ingredients together, stirring to make sure there are no dry pockets left within the dough. Pour into oiled pan and smooth top of dough. Cover pan with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 10 to 12 hours. Before baking, pierce the dough with a skewer 20 times. Brush top of dough with an oil/water mixture and bake in a 400 degrees F preheated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes. After baking allow bread to cool in the pan on a baking rack. When bread is still a little warm place in a plastic bag. The condensation inside the bag will help soften the very hard outer crust. Once completely cooled remove the bread from the moist bag, wipe the bag dry before placing the bread back into the bag. The bread is now ready for slicing or freezing. Enjoy!

Sliced Rugbrød

Sliced Rugbrød

This recipe has been submitted to YeastSpotting.

Source: adapted from Camilla Plum

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Kransekage Bites

The last day of the year has arrived and I wish all of you a Happy New Year and since it’s New Years Eve today lets wrap up the year with some traditional Danish Kransekage.

Kransekage is a classic Danish pastry made with Marzipan. It is often eaten for New Years, Weddings, Anniversaries, Baptisms – occasions when a celebration is in order. Kransekage can sometimes be made into quite elaborate presentations such as my Anniversary cake but other times they are made as small triangular bite-size pieces of Kransekage, equally delicious!

You can also make them into small Kransekage Tops as in the picture at the bottom of the page. If you choose this, don’t refrigerate the marzipan dough as it will be softer and more manageable at room temperature. Place dough in a pastry bag with a large star tip, but I have to forewarn you that it will take a lot of strength to press the dough out of the pastry bag onto the parchment paper. Another thing you can do to your Kransekage, which I did not do here, is to dip the bottom in some chocolate. Very delicious! I hope you have a safe and happy New Year. :D

Kransekage Bites (makes 10-12 pieces)

Ingredients:

Cake:

250 gram Marzipan (cut into slices)(8.8 oz or 8 3/4 oz)

75 gram confectioners sugar(2.5 oz or 2 3/4 oz)

20 gram pasteurized egg whites(0.7 oz or 3/4 oz)

Glaze:

40 gram confectioners sugar (sifted),( plus more if needed)(1.4 oz)

15 gram pasteurized egg whites(0.5 oz)

Directions:

For the Cake: In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, place 75 grams confectioners sugar and 20 grams pasteurized egg whites. Start the mixer on low and add marzipan pieces one by one. When the cake mass is homogeneous, remove from mixer and place in a zip lock bag. Store in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or until the following day.

Double up two large baking sheets for extra insulation to avoid burning the bottom of cake. Use parchment paper. Preheat oven to 390 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Note: when rolling out marzipan, wash and dry your hands as often as needed to avoid working with sticky fingers. If marzipan feels too sticky use a small amount of confectioners sugar to work into dough. Sprinkle work surface lightly with confectioners sugar. Roll dough into a long log approximately 1 1/2 cm (0.6 inch) in thickness. Cut log into finger length pieces (8 cm/3 inches). With two fingers lightly pinch and press down on each log piece to form a soft triangular-shape. If needed, use an icing spatula or a regular spatula to loosen marzipan from tabletop by pressing down hard while sliding spatula under the log. Place each triangular log on parchment paper and bake for 14 to 18 minutes or until golden brown. Allow logs to cool completely on a rack.

For the glaze: Beat together sifted confectioners sugar and pasteurized egg whites on high-speed for at least 5 minutes. The glaze should be pretty thick and no longer flow together when beaters are stopped. Add more sifted confectioners sugar as needed. Load glaze into a plastic bag and snip off tip to create a very tiny opening. Begin decorating, moving the tip back and forth across the logs making sure to extend the tip out over the edge to allow the glaze to droop down the outside in a loop style fashion. Allow glaze to dry at room temperature for a couple of hours before storing Kransekage Bites in an airtight container. Enjoy.

Kransekage Tops

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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With the end of the year quickly approaching I thought it would be fun to do a review of the most popular posts for 2012 (starting with the most popular). The outcome does not surprise me at all since the majority of my readers are Danes living outside Denmark or Americans with Danish heritage. The top posts are the classic Danish dishes, the ones that we miss, the ones that are etched into our memories and the ones that we grew up with.

I wish to extend a sincere Thank You to all of my readers as you help me keep in touch with Danes, Denmark and all the wonderful Danish foods. Godt Nytår til jer alle, Happy New Year to all of you and here’s to you…Skål and Cheers!

Ris a la mande

Ris a la mande

IMG_5335 ew

Remoulade

Koldskål ew

Koldskål

Risengrød ew

Risengrød

Wienerbrød ew

Wienerbrød

Leverpostej ew

Leverpostej

Pebbernødder ew

Pebernødder

Easy Cheese Danish ew

Easy Cheese Danish

Florentine ew

Florentine

img_3425e1

Rundstykker

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Homemade Crunchy Chocolate

Danes love to make many different types on confections (konfekt) around Christmas time. They are small delectable treasures and usually pretty easy to make. This one is super quick and easy and I adore the slight crunch from the biscuits and the hint of cranberries. It reminds me of my Kiksekage, which I looove, only this is in small bite-size pieces. However, it does contain nougat which I have never seen in a regular grocery store here where we live. So the only way for me to get nougat is to order it online, but it is well worth it :)

Homemade Crunchy Chocolate

Ingredients:

200 grams semi-sweet or milk chocolate (7 oz)

100 grams nougat (3.52 oz)

50 grams biscuits (1.76 oz)

30 grams dried cranberries (1 oz)

Directions:

Over a warm water bath, melt nougat and chocolate. Remove bowl from water bath and break biscuits into small pieces, add to melted chocolate. Add dried cranberries and gently stir to moisten and combine all pieces. Line a small container with parchment paper allowing paper to extend over edges for easy removal of chocolate. Pour chocolate mixture into container and place in refrigerator for two hours to cool and set. Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas!

Nougat

Source: adapted from Odense Marcipan

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Brunkager

Brunkager

This year I decided to try out a new recipe for Brunkager. I view this recipe as a more modern Brunkage in that, the finished product is a small rectangular cookie instead of the traditional round shape and it has pistachios in addition to almonds. The cookies are very flavorful and delicious and the only problem I had was with the aesthetic outcome. I was not able to find any whole almonds and pistachios, all I could get was almond slivers and unsalted pistachio halves and pieces. Of course now that it’s all said and done I finally found the right kind of nuts…bummer… oh well. As far as the almonds, use what you have, but whole would be perfect. But for the pistachios, I would recommend that if you cannot get whole then don’t bother with it because it really wont give you the beautiful green “wow” effect that whole pistachios would provided.

This recipe also uses Potaske which is a leavening agent commonly used in some Danish baked products. Potaske can be substituted with Baking Soda which is what I used in my previous Brunkager recipe. If you use Baking Soda you can omit the 1 tablespoon cold water. Simply just mix the Baking Soda in with the dry ingredients.

I hope you enjoy these cookies, they are a wonderful addition to any Christmas repertoire.

Brunkager II

Brunkager (makes approx. 110 cookies)

Ingredients:

250 gram butter (8.8 oz.)

125 gram dark syrup (4.4 oz.)

250 gram dark brown sugar (8.8 oz.)

2 teaspoon potaske

1 tablespoon cold water

3 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground allspice

500 gram all-purpose flour (17.6 oz.)

30 gram whole unsalted pistachios (1 oz.)

120 gram whole blanched almonds (4 oz.)

Directions:

Using a 20 x 20 centimeter (8 x 8 inch) container, cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to fit inside the dish without it crimping up in the corners. Place parchment paper in a cross fashion with paper extending over the edges. Set aside.

Place butter, syrup and brown sugar in a sauce pan and melt over medium-high heat. Once ingredients are melting, whisk vigorously until it comes together. Remove from heat.

Combine potaske and water, set aside. Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and allspice in the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the hook attachment. Add potaske/water mixture to the warm butter/syrup mixture. Pour the warm butter/syrup mixture into the flour mixture and mix until a homogeneous mass. Add pistachios and almonds and continue mixing until combined.

While batter is still warm, pour into dish lined with parchment paper and press the mixture into corners and flatten. Cut another piece of parchment paper to fit and place on top of dough. Fold overhanging edges of paper in over batter and allow to cool at room temperature until the following day. Next day, remove dough from dish and cut into 4 logs. If you plan on baking the cookies at this point, cut logs into thin slices and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving a 1 inch space between cookies. Bake in a 180 degree C (350 degrees F) preheated oven for 9 – 12 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before placing in a cookie tin with a tight fitting lid.

If you plan on baking cookies on a later date, wrap each log tightly in plastic wrap, place in a zip-loc bag and store them in refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. Flavors will continue to develop as dough sits. Once ready to bake, allow dough to come to room temperature before slicing and baking.  Merry Christmas and Glædelig Jul.

Brunkager ready for baking

Brunkager ready for baking

Source: adapted from Det Søde Liv

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Sukkerkringler

In Denmark, the word Kringle refers to the knotted pretzel shape and Danes use this shape for many different baked goods like pastries, breads and cookies. The Kringle symbol has a long history in Denmark and it’s the guild sign for the Danish Baker. Even today, it is often displayed as a golden kringle outside the modern Danish Bakery Shop.

Form into ball the size of a walnut, roll to 6 inches long, shape as a pretzel and dip in sugar.

The Sukkerkringle is a Christmas cookie made in the traditional kringle shape. The dough is very quick and easy to make but the shaping of the cookies does require a little bit of patience (this would be a great activity for the teenager in your house :)) The cookie is soft and delicate and dipped in pearl sugar. The pearl sugar is a bigger sugar crystal which I have found online, however, if you don’t have it in your house you can use crushed sugar cubes and if you don’t have sugar cubes then just use a light coating of regular sugar…you get the idea.

Pearl sugar

Sukkerkringler

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup butter

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Pearl sugar for decoration

Directions:

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Place flour, butter, baking powder, egg and whipping cream in a food processor or a large bowl. Mix until combined and a ball of dough is formed, careful not to over-mix. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place a small amount of pearl sugar onto a small plate and set aside.

Remove cooled dough from refrigerator and divide into pieces the size of a small walnuts, roll into balls. Sprinkle a very small amount of flour onto your work surface if needed and roll each ball into a 6 inch long rope. Take each end of the dough and curl them up onto the middle of the dough, forming a pretzel shape, gently press a finger into the seam to seal the edges. Lift up the pretzel and place upside down into the pearl sugar, press down gently to make the sugar stick. Place sugar side up onto baking sheet, reshape a little if needed. Bake in the middle of oven for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before storing cookies in a cookie tin. Enjoy!

Source: The Great Scandinavian Baking Book

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Brunede Kartofler – Caramelized Potatoes

Brunede Kartofler is a classic Danish side dish which was always served with Christmas dinner when I was a child.  Of course it was also served occasionally at other times but I think probably most Danes associate the dish with Christmas in particular. The sweetness of the caramelized potatoes is wonderful with the other classic side dish Rødkål (sweet and sour red cabbage) which is slightly tangy and the two dishes are often found on the same table.

When making Brunede Kartofler make sure to watch the sugar so it doesn’t burn and when you add the butter it will bubble up briefly, so please be very careful.

Caramelized Potatoes

Brunede Kartofler

Ingredients:

potatoes (approx 20 small white)

1 cup sugar

5 tablespoon butter

Directions:

Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender. Drain potatoes and place in refrigerator to cool. Once potatoes are cold, remove peel. In a pan over medium-low heat melt sugar. Watch sugar carefully so it does not burn. When sugar has melted add butter, please note that it will bubble up, stir to combine. Add potatoes and cook low and slow, gently stirring occasionally until potatoes are warmed through. Enjoy!

Source: My mother Åse Frandsen

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Red Cabbage

With the holidays quickly approaching it’s time to revisit some classic Danish dishes. Rødkål is a side dish that is always on the table for Christmas dinners and luncheons but of course it is also served at other times. For me though, the sweet and sour aroma with a hint of cloves in the background reminds me of Christmas and it will perfume your house in the most warm and pleasant of ways. The dish itself is very quick and easy to assemble and the remainder of the time is spent simmering away on the stove.

Sliced red cabbage ready for cooking

I have been experimenting with this recipe for some time now and I finally got it right (that’s according to my tastebuds of course :)). The traditional way to make Rødkål is to use Ribssaft (Red Currant juice) but it’s impossible to find it in any of the stores around here, so I am substituting it with 100% Pomegranate juice.

The first time I made Rødkål the ratio of vinegar to pomegranate juice was off with too much vinegar. The second time I could not find any pomegranate juice so I used cranberry juice instead…bad idea. It left a really dry taste in my mouth. In the meantime, my parents came to visit and they brought real Ribssaft with them but it was confiscated going through customs. (Still unclear as to why they couldn’t bring it in, maybe the size of the bottle?) Anyway, two cabbage heads later and with real pomegranate juice and less vinegar, we finally have a winner!

Rødkål

Ingredients:

1 head red cabbage

1 deciliter apple cider vinegar (3.4 oz.)

2 deciliter pomegranate juice (or red currant juice = ribssaft) (6.8 oz.)

3 – 4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 tablespoon butter

Atamon for rinsing glasses

Directions:

Remove outer leaves of cabbage, cut into quarters, remove the tough white core and discard. Slice cabbage into desired thickness. Place cabbage  into cooking pot and add vinegar, juice, sugar, salt and ground cloves. Let it simmer covered for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. At the end of cooking time add the butter and gently stir until melted. If cabbage is to be used fairly quickly, simply just sterilize jars and lids with boiling water. If cabbage is intended for storing away, rinse jars and lids with Atamon. Store in cool, dark place. Enjoy!

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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Kringle

What is a Kringle? It is a Danish yeast cake which is traditionally baked in a pretzel shape. I guess that is why the portions of Kringle dough is so large because you would need a good amount to make it into the classic pretzel shape. However, it’s quite common for most people to shape them into a rectangle instead. The original recipe would have made 4 cakes which is too much for us here at home, although I could easily have followed that recipe and frozen the remainder down…they freeze well :) But I decided to cut the recipe in half. It worked out very well and the only little hick-up I encountered was that instead of having an odd measurement of 1 1/2 large eggs ?? in the recipe, I went with an even 2 large eggs instead. The result was that I had to add a wee-bit more flour and the outcome was a very soft and pliable dough and an amazing crumb in the final cake. As with any yeast cake it is always best served same day it is baked.

The folding process for making Kringle

Just wanted to share with you that this particular recipe comes from a lady named Anne Margrethe who lives in Hirtshals, Denmark. Her Kringle recipe was featured on a Danish television show hosted by Søren Ryge and he declared it “Denmark’s best Kringle”. I must say that it is super delicious!

Starting top left picture: Cubed butter in liquid, Remonce, Filling on dough, Finished Kringler

Kringle (makes 2 Kringler)

Ingredients:

For the dough:

1 deciliter water

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

150 grams butter, cut into small cubes, room temperature

325 grams all-purpose flour

For the Remonce:

115 grams butter, room temperature

115 grams sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Garnish:

50 grams raisins

25 grams blanched almonds, chopped

Pearl sugar

1 egg, for egg wash

Directions:

In a small saucepan heat water to 110 degrees F (no more than 110 degrees). Pour warm water into a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over water and let sit for 10 minutes. Add sugar, eggs and butter to bowl and give a quick stir, let sit for another 10 minutes. Add all flour to bowl and using your hands, mix all ingredients until homogeneous. Transfer dough to a clean bowl, cover with a clean and dry tea-towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

To make Remonce filling mix together butter, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl, set aside.

Sprinkle work surface lightly with flour and give the dough a quick soft kneading. Dough should be soft and pliable. Divide dough into two portions and form each piece of dough into a log. Working with one log at the time, place a piece of parchment paper onto your work surface and, on the parchment paper, roll out the log to approximately 30 x 16 centimeter rectangle (11.5 x 6 inches). Spread 1/2 the Remonce filling down the middle of each dough rectangle and sprinkle with raisins and almonds. Fold the outer 1/3 of dough over the middle and then the other outer 1/3 of dough over the middle again. Fold the ends closed. Holding onto the parchment paper, roll dough rectangle over so it’s now placed upside-down. Place parchment paper with dough rectangle onto baking sheet. Repeat process with second piece of dough. Allow both dough rectangles to rise for another 15 minutes on the baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (425 degrees F). Lightly beat egg with a fork and brush dough with egg wash. Sprinkle with Pearl sugar and almonds. Bake for 12-14 minutes on middle rack in preheated oven. Allow to cool on baking sheet. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Anne Magrethe i Hirtshals via Søren Ryge

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Smørrebrød med Sild

It’s been a while since I’ve made a piece of traditional Danish Smørrebrød. This is marinated Herring which is not only super delicious but also high in Omega-3 fatty acids and therefor good for you. Herring is immensely popular in Scandinavia and it can always be found on a festive luncheon menu. You can buy Herring in different marinates such as mustard, cream, curry, wine or spiced sauces. For this particular Smørrebrød I used Herring in a wine sauce, which I adore, and I paired it with onions, capers and some wonderful fresh dill.

Smørrebrød – med Sild

Ingredients:

1 slice Rugbrød (dark Rye bread)

butter for bread, optional

Boston lettuce

marinated herring in wine sauce

red onion, diced

dill

capers

Directions:

Finely dice red onion, set aside. Butter bread if desired. Place lettuce on bread and top with marinated herring. Arrange red onions, dill and capers in a decorative fashion. Smørrebrød is enjoyed with a cold beer and Akvavit snaps. Enjoy!

Source: My Danish Kitchen

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