Since they were first baked by sisters Anna and Emma Karlsson in 1929, the delicious ginger thins in April's Gin of the Month box have been beloved in their native Scandinavia (especially when eaten with soft cheese or jam!).
But these aren’t the only baked goods making their way onto our plates from the happy nations of Northern Europe. From a traditional Danish to delicious raspberry slices, the bakes below are favourites in Denmark and are perfect for some sweet snacking this Bank Holiday weekend!
In Denmark, they call what we know as Danish pastries Weinerbrød, or ‘Viennese bread’. That’s because these tasty pastries were brought to Denmark in the 1850s, when the bakers of Copenhagen went on strike and Austrians moved in to fill the gap. The Danes got a taste for this delicious style of pastry, and continued making them even after the strike came to an end. Traditional Danish fillings are raspberry and apple.
For the dough:
190g bread flower, plus extra for dusting
24g granulated sugar
2 tsp active dry yeast
¾ tsp salt
200g cold, unsalted butter, roughly cubed
1 large egg
60ml cold whole milk
For the finish:
225g cream cheese
160g icing sugar
1 large egg yolk
Raspberry jam or apple compote
Pinch of salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
30ml whole milk
Make your dough. Combine flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a food processor. Add the butter and pulse. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk and 30ml of water. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and fold in. Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap, wrap it up and chill for at least three hours.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to roughly a 20x40cm rectangle, then fold in thirds like a letter by bringing the top third down and the bottom third up. Don’t worry if the dough looks rough – as you roll it will come together. Rotate the dough 90 degrees, then repeat the folding and rolling process twice more. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour. Repeat the entire rolling and folding process one more time. Refrigerate for at least two hours.
While your dough chills, beat together the cream cheese, 30g of icing sugar, the egg yolk, salt and vanilla. Set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 32cm square and cut 1cm off each edge to neaten. Cut the remaining dough into nine 10cm squares. Brush each corner with a bit of beaten egg, then fold into the centre and press down. Transfer the squares to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Pipe the cheese filling onto the centre of each dough square. Cover the pastries and let them stand for about an hour, until lightly puffed. Heat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Remove the plastic and brush the pastries with beaten egg. Drop a dollop of raspberry jam or apple compote on the cream cheese centre and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the sheets and lower the oven temperature to 375F/190C/Gas 5 and continue to bake for another 6 to 8 minutes, until the pastries are golden brown.
While your pastries cool, whisk together the remaining 130g of icing sugar and the milk. Drizzle the cooling pastries with the glaze and serve.
Cakes aren’t common desserts in Denmark, but they’re very popular as a mid-afternoon treat alongside a hot cup of coffee. One of the most popular variations is hindbærsnitter, two layers of shortcrust pastry sandwiched together with raspberry jam. To the untrained eye they look like a Pop Tart, but these jammy delights are in a league all their own.
For the pastry:
350g plain flour
200g cold unsalted butter, cubed
125g icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla seeds
Pinch of salt
200g quality raspberry jam
250g icing sugar
Freeze-dried raspberries or chopped nuts
Put your butter, flour and sugar into a food processor and blitz until the ingredients have started incorporating. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz again until your dough becomes smooth and holds together.
Wrap in cling film and rest in the refrigerator for half an hour, then flour a surface. Cut your dough in half and roll it out into a 25x25cm square. Transfer to a lined baking tray. Repeat for the second half. Put both trays into the refrigerator and rest again for 15 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas 5. Bake your pastry for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden, then remove and leave to cool for a few minutes. While your pastry is cooling, prepare your icing by combining your icing sugar with two to four tablespoons of hot water. Stir, adding more water if necessary, until you have a thick icing with the texture of syrup.
Spread your jam over the slightly warm pastry, making sure to get an even layer, and arrange the second layer of pastry on the top so that it lines up. Tip your icing over the top and spread evenly, then sprinkle your toppings all over. Cut the pastry into neat rectangles while it’s still slightly warm, with a large knife and a confident hand. Enjoy at room temperature, with a warm cuppa.