I have a very dear childhood friend living in Denmark. In 2009 my family went to visit my friend and her family in Odense, Denmark; Odense is on an island of Fyn (pronounced “foon”- also known as Funen for us English speakers) and is well known as a birthplace for Hans Christian Andersen (in fact they have a really nice Hans Christian Andersen museum in the city center of Odense). Another famous Odense specialty is a pastry called “Brunsviger” – roughly pronounced “brons-we-ahr” but you have to say it a bit fast. Danish is a language I don’t think I can master at all – a grave mistake if you try to pronounce words based on English pronounciation because they sound very VERY different!! Anyhow, I learned how to make this even before I went to visit my friend in Denmark. A year before my visit my friend and I were exchanging recipes and she gave this recipe to me, so basically I have been making this since 2008. It is something like a flat version of sticky buns, but much better; it has caramelized brown sugar and butter topping (and many times custard cream blended into it). You can literally find brunsviger at every bakery (and believe me there are tons of wonderful bakeries in Odense!!) and you eat this for breakfast and/or afternoon tea time. Instead of typical birthday cakes many children will have brunsviger (shaped into gingerbread girl/boy, etc) with toothpicks with Danish flags all over brunsviger. Unfortunately, outside of Fyn it is difficult to find brunsviger so I took full advantage and ate my share of authentic brunsviger!!
I have no idea how many times I made this since 2008; it’s one of our family’s favorites and we don’t get tired of eating this at all! It’s a special recipe because it was given to me by my friend and we have very fond memories of Denmark (seriously awesome food there!!). I took quite a few photos to explain various steps so I arranged the photos differently for this post, and I hope they make sense to you.
I usually put custard cream into the brown sugar/butter topping – I like to make the topping beforehand and keep it aside. I like to make custard cream, but you can always use the instant vanilla pudding, but I do have to say the homemade one is very delicious and it’s not difficult to make at all:
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cups sugar
1 cup warm milk
2 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
Mix egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan; all sifted flour and mix well. Gradually add warm milk as you mix; place the saucepan on a low heat and add butter, and stir until the mixture thickens (once it comes to a bubbling boil it’ll thicken soon after). Let it cool completely.
Brown Sugar/Butter Topping:
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Add all the ingredients in saucepan on a low heat and bring to a slow simmer. Take off the heat once everything has melted. Slightly cool and combine with the custard cream.
**This dough recipe requires you to make fresh yeast dough, it’s quite easy, but if you feel intimidated you can substitute with store bought bread/pizza dough.
Dough: enough for 9×13 inch pan
1-1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast (or 2 yeast packets)
1 cup lukewarm water (divided into 1/2 cup each)
9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
Mix the yeast and 1/2 cup lukewarm water (dissolve the yeast and let it stand for few minutes until the yeast looks bubbly and spongy). Mix melted butter and remaining 1/2 cup luke warm water and add to the yeast mixture.
In a standmixer add the yeast/butter mixture (I usually add the yeast mixture and butter mixture in the standmixer first) and add the eggs, sugar and flour. Let it mix for less than a minute and with a dough hook knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes (scraping the sides). Transfer the dough into a large glass or stainless bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes (either on top of a radiator, inside an oven (that’s turned off) or in a microwave (just heat about 2 cups water in the microwave and add the bowl inside the microwave along with the hot water).
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and transfer it to a lined & greased 9x13inch baking pan with an aluminum foil. Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes; then with all your fingers make indentations in the dough all across the pan (except for the edges) so that it looks like the dough has crater-like dents. Spread the topping mixture evenly and bake in a 350F oven for about 30-35 minutes. Let it slightly cool and dig in!!
**Sorry, photo #9 should at #7 (oops)…
My opinion: I always smile when I take this first bite and taste the brown/butter topping with custard cream… oh my… I am so glad I don’t live in Fyn, I will be frequenting the bakery daily for brunsviger. If you want a little taste of Fyn, brunsviger is calling your name!