When I think of Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen and René Redzepi’s wonderful Noma restaurant immediately spring to mind. Closely followed by Lego, Lurpak butter, the Little Mermaid sculpture and SBS's addictive crime thriller The Bridge. And, of course, that Copenhagen is this year’s Eurovision host.
I have to think a little harder when it comes to Danish food. But not too hard, because the ‘new Nordic’ cuisine – a renaissance of classic Danish peasant dishes with a modern focus and use of wonderful local fresh produce – has now found world recognition.
So let’s talk about my special interest – this country’s baking tradition – after I set the record straight about an understandable common misconception. The Danish pastry (below) is not an original Danish creation. Shocking, I know, but this wonderful yeasted puff pastry creation was actually brought to Denmark by Austrian bakers in the mid 19th Century. Credit to the Danes for taking ownership, though, and we'll just leave it at that!
What they can own are their impressive rye breads (rugbrød), which tend towards the dark, rich, dense pumpernickel varieties (like the one below). Similar to that found in Germany, rugbrød forms the basis for the ever-popular smørrebrød open sandwiches. Good stuff.
Cakesare also popular and range from the simple and slightly rustic, such as the Danish apple cake (Æblekage) (below) and the Danish dream cake (Drømmekage), through to the quite elaborate sponge-based Danish layer cake (Lagkage), which is traditionally made for birthday celebrations, and the Danish wedding cake (Kransekake) – a simple yet spectacular tower of concentric cake rings made from an almond- and sugar-based dough.
Many of these traditional recipes highlight the use of popular ingredients that include almonds (as in our Danish macaroons, below), berries, rye flour, apples and butter. And this collection of recipes, all classics but with a subtle modern twist, will give you a true insight into the wonderful world of Danish baking.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. Read our interview with her or for hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Trish Hegarty. Food preparation by Wendy Quisumbing.
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