Denmark: Getting hygge with it
Denmark. Home to hygge, LEGO, Mads Mikkelsen and everybody’s favorite 90’s pop group Aqua (Hi, Barbie!) , it’s no wonder that this small country just south of our own fair nation is constantly winning title of “happiest nation in the world”. Add ridiculously delicious baked goods to the mix, and we're looking at packing our bags and heading off to CPH. While Sweden certainly has its own fair share of street cred when it comes to killing the pastry game, after meeting our next guest, we had to admit that the Danes are a force to be reckoned with (at least when it comes to making buttery, melt-in-your mouth sweet treats).
Sara welcome us into her bright and airy Kista apartment, and we instantly felt as though we’d been transported into a Danish minimalist dream home from the cover of a magazine. And with the beautifully melancholic tunes of fellow Dane Alex Vargas playing softly in the background, we headed to the kitchen, where the stage was set for us to learn the secrets to making two traditional Danish treats: fastelavnsboller and hindbaærsnitter.
Sara explained that fastelavnsboller are pretty much like the Danish (and according to our Danish expat, arguably better) version of Swedish semlor, and are also eaten during the cold, dark winter months because what better way to forget the never-ending darkness than with butter, cream and sugar? That’s right.
Hindbaærsnitter on the other hand, are a staple all year round at any respectable Danish bakery, but now you can enjoy these bright, jam-packed treats anywhere!
Read on to find out how you too can make (and later devour these), together with your nearest and dearest for a hygge fika moment!
"I think you guys have some weird combinations sometimes... like pepparkakor and blue cheese"
Recipes for Hindbaærsnitter & Fastelavnsboller:
Pair with: coffee, tea, champagne, Long Island iced tea, just about anything your heart desires.
Hindbærsnitter (raspberry slices)
For the dough:
- 200g of butter (2dl)
- 350g of flour (5.83dl)
- 150g of florsocker (aka icing sugar) (2.5dl)
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1 egg
For the icing:
- 200g (4 dl) icing sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons of cold water
- 1.5 dl of raspberry jam
- Multicolored sprinkles for letting your creative soul loose
Part one: getting doughy with it
Cut the butter into small cubes
Add flour to a large bowl
Crumble the butter into the flour
Add the icing sugar and the vanilla pod
Add the egg
Mix vigorously until dough is smooth and compact
Place the dough in the fridge and let it chill (pun intended) for ca. 1 hour
….. Have a glass of wine and wait
By this time, dough should be nice and cold. Take it out of the fridge and divide it into two equal portions
Roll each portion out into a relatively thin 20x30cm rectangle
Cut off the end bits so that the edges are straight
Cut the rectangle in half again so that you have two long rectangles of dough
Place them (carefully) on the baking sheet, and bake at 175C until they are golden brown
Take them out to cool
Repeat steps 1-14 for the remaining half of the dough
Part Two: Ice, Ice Baby
Once the cookies have cooled, it’s time to ice them up!
In a bowl, combine the icing sugar and water, mixing until smooth and free of clumps. The mixture shouldn’t be runny, so add the water slowly, mixing as you go along
Take one of the sheets of cookie, and spread a generous amount of raspberry jam on one side. Take the other sheet and cover it, much like you would make a sandwich.
Cover the top layer with icing, and decorate with sprinkles.
Repeat for the other two cookie sheets.
Slice into serving portions (serves around 4-6 people)
- 115 g (1.1dl) butter
- 75 ml (0.75dl) milk
- 25 g of yeast
- 190 g (3dl) of flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 25g sugar
- 1 vanilla pod
- ½ egg
- ½ for egg washing
For the custard:
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 dl milk
- 1 vanilla pod
- 1.5 tbsp flour
For the chocolate icing (follow the same steps used to hindebœrsnitter)
- 4 tbsp cacao
- 200g (4 dl) icing sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons of cold water
Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat. Once butter has melted, add milk. Stir occasionally and let cool to room temperature
In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, vanilla pod and salt together, and then stir in the butter-milk mixture.
Add ½ agg to the mixture
Mix everything together until the dough has a nice and sticky texture, and then leave it to rise under a towel for 30 minutes.
While the dough is rising, it’s time to make your custard!
In a saucepan, heat up milk on medium-low. Add the vanilla pod and 1tbsp sugar
In a bowl, whip the egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch
Add in the egg mixture to the saucepan and whip it (whip it good), until the consistency is thick and creamy (that’s what sh- okay no we won’t go there)
Let it cool
Once the dough has risen, roll it out flat into a big square and then divide it into 8-12 smaller squares
Add the custard to the center of each square and fold in the edges, sealing in the custard nice and tight. Place them on a baking dish and brush with the egg wash. Place under a dish towel and let rise for another 15-20.
Bake for 20-25 minutes on 200C
Take out the buns and let them cool before icing them
Ice each bun with chocolate icing and devour!
After gorging ourselves on all the pastries (and in Alex’s case, the dough… pro tip: don’t do this), we talked to Sara about her move to Stockholm, differences between Danes and Swedes in the workplace, and how Ahlgrens bilar stole her heart.
Kryddhyllan: Thank you for this epic Danish cooking sesh! Let’s talk food. What is your favorite food from home?
Sara: I…. I don’t know. Even though I cheated and looked at the questions, I have no clue *looks at her boyfriend what’s your favorite food?
Daniel: NO clue.
Sara: I think it’s because in my family we don’t eat a lot of typical Danish food. But if it was going to be something traditional I would say goose, that’s what we have for Christmas and it’s really, really good.
Kryddhyllan: Is there a favorite family dish that you have?
Sara: I would say that when my dad cooks and makes Persian food, that’s one of my favorites.
Kryddhyllan: Cool! Agreed, Persian food is delicious. What dish is your absolute favorite?
Sara: Uh, it’s a stew with lamb and lots of herbs. And kidney beans and dried lemons as well.
Kryddhyllan: Yum, that sounds amazing. Why would you say it’s your favorite?
Sara: Because it just tastes so good.
Kryddhyllan: Fair enough! Can’t argue there. Moving onwards, what brought you to Sweden?
Sara: Work! Yes. So I quit the job I had in Denmark, and then obviously I had to find something else, and I just felt like I needed a really big change. And I had been here for an internship and really liked Stockholm, and then I just asked Daniel what he would say if I got a job here and yeah, the rest is history.
Kryddhyllan: So you convinced him to follow along with you to what you might argue is the “lesser” Scandinavian country?
Sara: Yup. So he came a month after me, because we met in Denmark.
Kryddhyllan: Nice! And since moving to Sweden, do you have any favorite foods?
Sara: Does candy count?
Kryddhyllan: It sure does.
Sara: Then I think I would have to say Ahlgrens bilar. And I don’t think that the different colors taste the same, I know they’re supposed to but they don’t.
Kryddhyllan: No, they’re definitely different. Who says they’re the same.
Sara: I think they do? They say they’re supposed to taste the same but we all know they don’t.
Kryddhyllan: Terrible. When was the first time you had bilar?
Sara: It’s not something that’s imprinted in my memory. It was more like “this isn’t bad, I like this”.
Kryddhyllan: More of this! Did you know anything about Swedish food before you came here?
Sara: Well I think… I mean doesn’t everyone know about köttbullar? And I think… kanelbullar as well. Ooh! Another favorite is kardemummabullar, those are amazing. They’re so much better than cinnamon.
Kryddhyllan: So, so good! The best ones are the ones with lots of butter.
Sara: Lots and lots of butter.
Kryddhyllan: What else did you know about Sweden?
Sara: Well, I think… a lot *laughs. But it’s hard to say anything specific because it’s so similar to our own culture in Denmark. There aren’t that many differences.
Kryddhyllan: It wasn’t too much of a culture shock. Was there anything that was kind of surprising?
Sara: I think Swedes are more… I’m not sure if I should say afraid, but yeah a bit scared of conflict or- I think Danes are more direct.
Kryddhyllan: So that was sort of a surprise when working or just in general?
Sara: I think in terms of work well, Swedes like to talk a lot during meetings and often it takes more than one meeting to get to a decision, which can be a little frustrating sometimes, but that’s the way it works sometimes.
Kryddhyllan: No arguing there. What would you say if you had to choose, would be the best and worst thing about Swedish food?
Sara: Hmm… the worst thing
Kryddhyllan: Everybody starts with the worst thing!
Sara: That’s because it’s so easy *laughs. I think you guys have some weird combinations sometimes.
Kryddhyllan: Like what?
Sara: Like pepparkakor and blue cheese.
Kryddhyllan: That’s delicious, you’re breaking our hearts.
Sara: I mean I don’t like blue cheese so that might be why, but I still find it weird.
Kryddhyllan: That’s fair, it is pretty strange. What about the best thing? Or are you going to say that there is no best thing?
Sara: I guess I would say that all the nice restaurants, especially here in Stockholm, there are so many good places with really good food.
Kryddhyllan: More than in Copenhagen?
Sara: I mean, I don’t go to Copenhagen that often so I don’t know. But in my hometown there’s not a lot at least.
Kryddhyllan: What is one of your favorites right now?
Sara: Hmm… I mean it’s been awhile since we went to a really good restaurant, the last time must have been on our holiday, but that wasn’t in Sweden.
Kryddhyllan: Moving on, if you had to pick one type of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Sara: hmm… Maybe Mexican food. Because you can do so many different combinations with the same ingredients. Or Asian.
Kryddhyllan: You can only pick one…
Sara: Ok I gonna go Asian then.
Kryddhyllan: So you’re changing your mind?
Kryddhyllan: You sure?
Kryddhyllan: There’s no going back. Think about what you’d want to eat everyday for the rest of your life.
Sara: … I’ll say Asian!
Kryddhyllan: Ok, final answer. That’s a great choice though, you can have so many styles of Asian cuisine, Vietnamese, chinese, brocco-
Sara: Were you about to say broccoli?
Kryddhyllan: Yes, not sure why… anyway, if you could pick just one spice to flavor your food with for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Sara: That’s a tough one. Maybe I would choose paprika. Yeah.
Kryddhyllan: Cool, why?
Sara: I dunno, it’s just good. It speaks to me. It could be chili flakes as well, but they’re kind of the same family so.
Kryddhyllan: One person said avocado in an interview.
Sara: See that’s not a spice! I wanted to say lemon but I stuck to the rules.
Kryddhyllan: You go girl! What would you say is the best meal you’ve ever had in your whole life?
Sara: I can’t remember that far back. But for my birthday last year, we had really good food. It was in Croatia, and the main course was fish which was really good, and the starter was some different dips, like olive oil and balsamico, and then the best pesto I’ve ever had.
Kryddhyllan: That sounds amazing, gotta get to Croatia.
Sara: Yes, you have to go to Pepper’s Eatery in Dubrovnik.
Kryddhyllan: On it. And now for the last question! What would you say is your absolute favorite restaurant at the moment, can be anywhere in the world.
Sara: Hmm, maybe I’ll say Pepper’s Eatery again because it was really good! Good food, and cheap. And good service. Can I do that?
Kryddhyllan: Totally! That was that, thank you! Let’s have some more pastries.