A Recipe to Share – Whole Grain Rolls

Yesterday was a day for home baking. It started with whole wheat pancakes for breakfast (although that doesn’t actually count as baking, does it), and ended with puff pastry filled with tuna, kale, sun-dried tomatoes and onion for dinner.

In between I baked whole grain rolls and that’s the recipe I’m sharing below. As the rolls came out of the oven, spreading that wonderful smell of fresh baked bread, I knew that this was a recipe I had to share.

In the recipe, grams are used as the measuring units for the dry ingredients, as in most Danish recipes. I prefer this over measuring cups. If you have a scale, it likely has a setting for grams.

I hope you decide to make these rolls and if you do, let me know what you think.

Whole Grain Rolls

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  • 125 grams grain mix (you can choose your own grains or use this mix from King Arthur Flour)
  • boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 2 deciliter buttermilk (6 3/4 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 100 grams whole wheat flour (I use this flour from King Arthur Flour)
  • 400-425 grams unbleached white flour

For topping:

  • 1 combined egg
  • grain mix, same as above or just use sunflower seeds or another seed of your choice

Pour the grains in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let them sit for at least one hour. Discard any leftover water.

Combine grains, yeast, egg, buttermilk, salt, whole wheat flour and half of the white flour using a mixer until well combined. Add more white flour a little at the time until the dough is no longer sticky but be careful to not add too much.

Let the dough rest in the kitchen counter for 1 1/2 hours.

Shape 8 rolls and put them on a baking sheet line with parchment paper.

Let the rolls rest for 45 minutes, then brush them with the combined egg and spread the grain mix on top.

Bake the rolls in the oven at 350 degree F in a convection oven, a little higher temperature if not convection, for 13-17 minutes.

Remove the rolls from the oven and let them cool on a rack.

 

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A birthday to celebrate

When I spoke to my mom on Saturday (June 15th), she reminded me that it was Valdemarsdag (Valdemar’s Day) in Denmark. She told me that people had their flags out and the entire country was celebrating because this year marked the 800th birthday of the Danish flag called Dannebrog, the oldest national flag in the world.

I had to ask for a reminder of the significance of Valdemarsdag. I didn’t remember what set June 15 as our flag’s birthday and why we call the day by that name.

Well, it’s all because of a legend, a good story we tell and celebrate. Legend has it that the Danish king Valdemar Sejr (Valdemar the Victorious) in 1219 led his army on a crusade in what is today Estonia. During the battle of Lyndanisse, on June 15, the Danes were on the defensive and struggling, when suddenly and miraculously, what later became known as Dannebrog fell from the sky! This sign gave the Danish army renewed hope and courage which ultimately led to their victory. And Denmark got its flag!

That’s the story….800 years old! A pretty good one, don’t you think?

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Fastelavn – a Danish Tradition this time of year

As a child I used to look forward to Fastelavn because it was a day filled with fun and goodies, similar to Halloween. My friends and I, like most children in Denmark, would dress up in costumes, walk door to door in our neighborhood and sing a song when people opened their doors asking for treats or else…..

Fastelavn er mit navn,
boller vil jeg have.
Hvis jeg ingen boller får,
så laver jeg ballade.

The song rhymes in Danish. The translation is a bit awkward but here goes:

Fastelavn is my name,
rolls I want.
If I get no rolls,
then I will make trouble.

I never gave much thought to the words of this song. Fortunately so!

Unlike Halloween, Fastelavn always falls on a Sunday, between February 1st and March 7th, and always 7 weeks before Easter. It did used to be a religious holiday and it used to be the grow-ups who dressed up. They would party with lots to eat and drink, because 3 days later, on Ash Wednesday, Lent would begin and with it, 40 days of fasting.

In modern day Denmark Fastelavn is marked with special pastries. They are called Fastelavnsboller. You may recognize the word ‘boller’ from the song above, which I translated to rolls and you probably thought of dinner rolls but these are sweet rolls filled with vanilla creme and sometimes marcipan, or pastries with jam in the center.

Even though Fastelavn isn’t until March 3rd this year, some bakeries in Denmark have already started to sell them (my parents told me so) and why not. They are delicious! This year I decided to follow suit. Fastelavnsboller are now on my menu for a limited time! Go ahead, have a look and if you decide that looking isn’t enough, click here. 😊

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A little of this, a little of that

When people tell me that they love to cook but don’t like to bake, the reason they give me is usually that they don’t like how baking involves such exact measurements. In cooking you can easily add a little of this and a little of that. Well I beg to differ….. at least in some cases.

Let’s take the Health Muffins that I sometimes make for my family on the weekends. I have a list of base ingredients but then I always add others, whatever I’m in the mood for. This weekend I made them with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. Last time I made them with spinach and carrots. Often times I add some applesauce, cinnamon and cardamom.

I love to experiment. Having a sense of what goes well together and what the end result should taste like, it’s fun! Measurements become approximations. I take a little of this and a little of that.

With that in mind, it’s not easy to pass on such recipe but in case you would like to try these muffins, here goes….

Anne’s Health Muffins

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Base Ingredients

1 cup oat bran

1 cup white whole wheat flour

4 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp sea salt

¼ cup vegetable oil (I use avocado oil)

¼ cup honey or a little more if you like it sweeter

1 cup yogurt or buttermilk

2 eggs

1 cup raisins (I often use golden raisins)

½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Topping

½ cup old fashioned oats

¼ cup brown sugar

1-2 Tbs ghee (clarified butter) or melted butter

Added Ingredients

 Pumpkin version

1 can of pumpkin puree

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

dash of allspice

 

Veggie version

1 handful of spinach

2 carrots or 1 handful of mini carrots

½ cup chia seeds

1 heaping tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cardamom (optional)

 

Instructions:

Turn oven to 3800. Add all dry ingredients, including the spices.

For the pumpkin version, mix vegetable oil, honey, yogurt or buttermilk, pumpkin puree and eggs in a separate bowl.

For the veggie version, add vegetable oil, honey, yogurt or buttermilk, eggs, chia seeds, carrots and spinach in a Vitamix or blender and puree.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix. Stir in raisins and nuts if using.  Pour mixture into a greased muffin pan.

Mix all topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of the muffins.

Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy!

 

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Summer Memories

My family and I spent a week at Long Beach Island this summer. The house we rented with some friends was one block from the beach so it was an easy walk back and forth. I love being by the ocean. It makes me feel peaceful and it reminds me of my childhood and of my country.

You see, Denmark has more than 7,500 km (4,660 miles) of coastline and therefore lots of beaches. It is a small country, only 43,000 square kilometers (16,600 square miles), with hundreds of islands and a peninsula where my hometown, Århus, is located (green arrow below). Every summer on sunny days I used to ride my bike to the beach with my friends or my sister, after school or during summer break. It was only a 20-minute ride.

Map of Denmark

We had a summer house in a small town outside the town called Ebeltoft (red arrow above). I lovingly remember falling asleep at night with the windows open and listening to the sounds of the ocean and the smell of salt in the air. It was the best, most soothing way to go to sleep.

You see why I love the beach? But it wasn’t just the beach at Long Beach Island that reminded me of my childhood. Another fond memory came to me when the ice cream man stopped by the beach and rang his bell to announce his arrival. Not that we had ice cream trucks coming to our beaches in Denmark. No, we would walk to the ice cream kiosks to get us a treat. But it was the anticipation, the excitement and the joy that the ice cream man’s bell reminded me of. I clearly remember seeing the blue ice cream truck coming down my street and hearing the little song it would play. It was exciting every time it arrived which was maybe once every two weeks in the summer. Would we get ice cream today???

It was only boxes of ice cream that we could buy at the ice cream truck, not individual treats, and it wasn’t that we couldn’t get similar ice creams at the store, or that they were any less expensive of course. But to a child, it was such a novelty and oh so exciting. The funny thing is, I can’t even remember eating the ice cream!

I often times wonder what small moments like these my son will look back upon with similar fond memories when he grows up. Probably something that now seems insignificant but later in life will be recalled as precious moments.

My hope is that there will be many….

 

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Observations along an old familiar route

Last month I took a trip to Denmark by myself to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It felt like old times when my parents, sister and I all sat around the dinner table, discussing the day’s events. I was there only a short time and the days were filled with party preparations and lots of “hygge”. It was wonderful!

The day before I headed back to the States, I decided to take a walk on the path that goes around the lake near my parent’s house called Brabrandsø (“sø” is lake in Danish). The sky looked ominous but still I went. The path, approximately 10 km or 6.2 miles long, is called Brabrandstien (“sti” is path in Danish).  I have done the walk multiple times and biked around the lake more times than I can count, but somehow that day I observed my surroundings in a different light and found them surprisingly intriguing.

I stayed to the right of the path as walkers are supposed to. Accommodations are made for walkers and bikers with separated paths. At one part of the path, the bikers’ lane has even been marked for two lane traffic. There are always many bikers in their gear zipping around the lake, but there are also a lot of people, dressed in regular clothes, who take this route to town, work, or school. Case in point, as I approached the path from my parents’ house, I saw a group of school kids and their teachers on a little field trip, all on bikes.

If you are there to exercise, fitness equipment has been set up on each side of the lake. There is usually someone working out and certainly my son loves to do a few reps on the equipment when he’s with me.

Walk around the lake

Brabrandsøen to us today is precious because it provides a special place to be active and enjoy nature. But the lake area has been crucial to people for many, many years, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages when it was a vital food source. Artifacts dating back 6000 years have been found in the area and are at times still found by people working in their gardens. That’s pretty amazing!

The lake is only about 7 km (4.3 miles) from Aarhus which is Denmark’s second largest city, but still you will see cows, goats and horses grazing freely close to homes (not farms).  Simple electric fences are only there to keep the animals off the path and they seem to know that as they contently eat, nap and lazily watch people pass by. I think it’s quite charming how the rural mixes so nonchalantly with the suburban.

Walk around the lake 2

When I returned from my walk, I told my parents that I felt inspired to write about all my “new” observations along this old familiar route.  It’s very rewarding when you get a fresh look at things that are so familiar to you. And so here I am, writing and re-experiencing…

 

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I do

My husband and I just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. We always reminisce about that wonderful day in Denmark when all the planning (much of it done with the help of my parents and sister) came together perfectly.

The Christmas before our wedding, we went to Denmark to do some research. The plan was to check out three venues for our wedding reception. We started on the day we arrived from the U.S. at a place in Aarhus which the country’s second largest city. Feeling a little tired and jet lagged my then finance and I stepped into the restaurant and took a look around. It didn’t take us long to agree that this was the place we wanted. We didn’t need to go anywhere else. Even though the restaurant was closed for the season and undergoing some work, it felt absolutely perfect.

The 18-year-old Restaurant Prins Ferdinand, as it was called, was located in a 75-year-old building in Den Gamle By (The Old Town) which is an amazing open-air museum of Danish urban history and culture from the 1500s through the 1970s. 75 historic houses, relocated from all over the country, make up the museum and they made a beautiful backdrop to our wedding photos.

The wedding ceremony took place in the suburbs of Aarhus, in Viby where I grew up. It was at the church where I was christened and confirmed, a small church, built in the 12th century and all white as is typical of non-urban Danish churches.

In Denmark the weather in May is often very unpredictable, so we felt very lucky when we had a just few rain drops in the morning to wish us good luck, and then brilliant sunshine the rest of the day.

Restaurant Prins Ferdinand offered an intimate and very “hyggelig” setting for our 50 guests who represented 5 different countries. Family and friends had written songs for us all to sing and made speeches that made us both laugh and cry (especially me).

What a glorious day it was. It ended around 4 am, after we had enjoyed our “nattemad” – light fare before the guests leave – and almost in time for the sun to rise. ☀️

 

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How to say Happy Mother’s Day in Danish

As I’m sitting here writing, it occurred to me that we really don’t say happy Mother’s Day (or happy Father’s Day) in Denmark.  If anything, we say “nyd dagen” which means “enjoy the day”. There isn’t as much fanfare around Mother’s Day in Denmark as there is here in the US. Growing up my family would start the day with a nice breakfast. My dad usually got fresh baked rolls and pastries from the bakery, and we would all give my mom a little gift.  But that was really it. At least that’s what I remember.

Today, being so far away from my mom, I always go searching for a special card and a gift to send to her in Denmark and of course I call her on the day. Often times she will just have returned from doing yard work or other house work.  When I tell her she shouldn’t do that on Mother’s Day, she always laughs. It really is just another day, she says, but even so it is a good day to remind her of how much I love her and how much she means to me. ❤️

I do think it’s nice to have a day to celebrate mothers. My husband and son always make Mother’s Day a special day for me and I get to do things I want to do. That often includes doing a little planting in the yard. After all, I am my mother’s daughter.

To acknowledge the day, I made a special Mother’s Day menu. Check it out here.

 

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One Year Anniversary 

It’s hard to believe that it’s now been a year since I started my business. The Danish Baking Girl just turned 1!

The year flew by. I forged ahead, learned a lot and sometimes surprised myself. There are days that I have to pinch myself. Is this really happening? For many years, I was urged to open a business by people with whom I shared my baking and by my husband, who encouraged me to start my business.

Honestly, I never thought I would take that leap! I feel very blessed for the many, many wonderful people who have supported me, encouraged me and shared their wisdom with me. It has meant the world to me. I have always enjoyed baking but baking means so much more than just baked goods to me.

I fondly remember the days my sister and I came home from school and were greeted by the warm smell of rolls that our mom had just baked for us all to enjoy together while talking about our day. I can still smell them!

It is these kinds of memories, experiences and emotions I hope to create for my customers, and I am excited for what’s to come for The Danish Baking Girl.  🇩🇰

 

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Have you ever heard of knækbrød?

Knækbrød, called crispbread in English, is a staple in many Danish households, and even more so in other Scandinavian countries. When I visit my family in Sweden, it’s guaranteed that I can find knäckebröd (Swedish for knækbrød) in their pantries. Many U.S. stores sells it too. It’s delicious with hummus or cheese and it’s always part of the bread basket when we enjoy a delicious cheese plate for dinner at my house.

So what is it? It’s a dry, crisp cracker, usually baked with some type of rye flour although a number of new varieties have come on the market in the past years. If stored cool and in an airtight container, knækbrød will keep for a long time. This made it extremely useful back in the days when food storage was a lot more challenging than it is today. The tradition of baking knækbrød is actually very old. In Sweden and Finland, it is thought to go all the way back to the Middle Ages! Talk about sticking with tradition!

I love to experiment with bread so this summer, when my sister offered me some knækbrød she had made herself, it piqued my curiosity, but it wasn’t until she made a gluten free version at Christmas that I decided to start making it myself.

Once back in my own kitchen, the test baking began and I must say I was quite happy
with the result. I decided to jump into the gluten free arena and made my knækbrød with seeds, gluten free oats and buckwheat flour. Buckwheat flour, you may wonder – is that gluten free? And the answer is, yes it is! Despite the name, it is in fact related to….. want to take a guess? The buckwheat plant is related to rhubarb! It is the grinded small seeds of the plant that make up the buckwheat flour.

So now this gluten free knækbrød is on my menu. Check it out here under Bread and Breakfast.

 

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