...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Food journal number 24: Danish, err, Wienerbröd

A Danish is a Danish... but apparently not in Denmark, nor here in Sweden for that matter, where it's called by an Austrian allusion, wienerbröd (Danish, wienerbrød).

Labeling food by place is actually an interesting thing that I've noted with other foodstuff. It seems that if a popular food is associated with a place, everyone but the locals call it by it's "foreign-inspired" name. For one thing, the legendary "Swedish meatballs" are just plain "meatballs" in Sweden (why they're actually called "Swedish meatballs" eludes me). "French fries" are just "frites" au français (and yes, fries don't come from France either), and "French bread" is a very plain "baguette" over there. Surely "Chinese food" is just plain "food" in China?

But Danish and wienerbröd.... what's up with that?

Like French fries are said to originate in Belgium, Danish pastry -- and its relative the croissant -- are said to come from Vienna. Thus in Northern European countries (plus in France, where people are sticklers for language as far as stereotypes go) this pastry is referred to as "Viennese". The Austrians themselves on the other hand, call them Copenhagener -- or more specifically, "Kopenhagener Gebäck" (Copenhagener pasties). As we all know, German isn't the most concise of all European languages after all!

Despite the said Viennese origin however, The Danes were the ones who made this pastry literally their own. Since the pastry requires copious amounts of butter --which the Danes incidentally produce copious amounts of!-- it was probably a natural step. It's like drinking coconut juice in the Philippines, where some signs under trees actually warn "watch out for falling coconuts!"

So sometime last weekend there was an article published on Dagens Nyheter on these irresistable baked goodies, and I knew as soon as I saw the pictures that this would be my next food journal idea. I love Danish pastry myself and this article was truly irresistable. Why, why did I read the whole page and a half, when I knew I would be drooling by the end of it? Still, my eyes couldn't lift themselves off the paper and I found myself glancing at the food pictures for every paragraph of text.

Despite the drooly interruptions, I understood what I read at least. The "laminated dough" is achieved by folding, rolling and layering the dough many times between sheets of butter, resulting in a fluffy texture when baked. In a regular Danish pastry apparently, there are no less than 27 layers of dough (after folding the dough 3x3x3 times), and they are folded together like a long leather book.

This basic dough, however, can later be turned in the many kinds of Danish -- and there are loads of kinds, which, according to the article, are all familiar to the regular Dane, more or less. There's the Spandauer, a round kind with four "tips", flavored with vanilla cream and jam in the center. There are are also several snail-shaped variants, each with an appropriate name: romsnegl (for the snail-shaped one with rum), kanelsnegl (if it's flavored with cinnamon), tryksnegl (pressed down to achieve a design), direktørsnegl (an elaborate variant), etc. There are long and flat Danish (rosenbrød), figure-of-eight Danish, things called overskåren, chokladbolle, kamme, frøsnapper, borgmesterstang, kringle, trekanter, birkes... the list goes on!

No wonder this article gave me such an appetite for Danish. While reading, I imagined that the Danish pastries were emerging from out of the brown paper, falling into my hand, and finding their way into my mouth, where all 27 layers of buttery bread will crunch under my teeth and melt into a buttery-fruity-chocolately flavor. Mmmmm... Daaanish!

... Well, the pastry didn't emerge from the paper no matter how long I stared (I wish! Otherwise, I would browse through cookbooks everyday!). I instead ran to Lindahl's, a local bakeshop, to fulfill my pastry craving. Boy, do I have low EQ or what?

Since leaving for Sweden, one of my longest running fantasies has been to go down to Denmark and to stuff myself nuts with Danish of all kinds... and maybe butter cookies too, heheh :-) If a newspaper article can motivate me to run to the bakeshop in rainy weather, you can probably bet that I'll stuff myself silly in wienerbrød heaven. :-P~~~ (A drool smiley) Nye heh hehh!


Blogger Cheryl said...

DANISH!! thanks to your post, i'm heading down to french baker downstairs. :D

6:00 AM

Blogger Ahoy! said...

Danish cravings are contagious! :-)

11:37 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Allmost every type of the Danish pastery are called winerbrød by the Danes
witch means bread from Vienna why ?
because in the late 1800 most of the baker in Copenhagen was from Austria (Wien ) and they did start the production of there own homeland pastery and because the orginal name of the pastery was on the German ( Austria ) language it was easier to called it winerbrød ( there wasn't so many type of the pastery then!
Under the big depression in start of the 1930's lots of the danish bakers was immigrate to USA Australia where they try to start there own backery and then again it was easier on the local lauguage (english ) to called the pastery Danish than Winer gebackt

10:02 PM


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