Danish pastries, part 2: Spandauers

The most popular types of Vínarbrauð in Iceland are the "lengja", which you could simply call a "long Danish", and the type known in Scandinavia as "Spandauer", which is a one-portion squarish Danish with custard or jam centre. In Iceland, depending on where you come from, you either call them "sérbökuð vínarbrauð" (individually baked Viennese pastries), Dönsk vínarbrauð (Danish) or "Umslög" (envelopes). Today's instructions are for Spandauers. The most popular filling for Spandauers is custard, but jam or fruit are also good.

To put it all together:
Prepare the pastry dough as given in the last post. Cut the dough into even-sized squares. For 10 cm squares put 1 tbs of custard (or thick jam, e.g. raspberry) in the middle of each square. Fold one corner into the middle, then the opposite corner, then repeat with the other two corners. Do not crimp or overlap, as the corners are meant to pull back from the middle while baking.

You can also make pinwheels:
Cut slits into each corner, about half-way to the middle, put in the filling, then fold in every other point of the pinwheel. Press together the points.

Arrange on a cookie sheet, about 5 cm apart. Let rise at room temperature for 10-15 minutes, brush with beaten egg, milk or water and bake at high temperature (225°C) until a light golden colour (should take about 12-15 minutes).

Remove from the oven and cool. Use a piping cone with a narrow point to make even zig-zag streaks of icing on top of each pastry. Serve.


Danish pastries, part 1: The basics

I got my first request for Vínarbrauð several years ago, but somehow I never got round to posting a recipe until now. I am posting this in three parts.

The pastries known to most of the rest of the world as Danish pastries are called by a name that means "Viennese Bread" in the Nordic countries. In Icelandic it's Vínarbrauð. The story says that Danish bakers learned to make a type of leavened flaky pastry from Viennese bakers, perhaps similar to croissant pastry, and made it their own, Here is a longer version of the story (the article also contains images of a few of the possible variations). These kinds of pastries are very popular in Iceland, and you can buy them in every bakery and many supermarkets. I am going to give recipes for the three most popular types of vínarbrauð: Spandauers and two varieties of what are called "lengjur" in Icelandic.

For the pastry you will need:
500 g flour
ground cardamom to taste
50 g margarine
50 g fresh yeast
50 ml water
50 g sugar
1 egg
250 ml cold milk
200 g margarine or butter

Sift the flour and add cardamom (sorry, no amount is given in the recipe. The one time I made this I used 1 tsp). Dissolve the yeast in 50 ml lukewarm water. Take the 50 g of margarine and crumble into the flour. Add the milk, dissolved yeast and egg. Knead until smooth. Rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Roll out into an approximately 35 cm square. Take the 200 g. butter or margarine, which should be firm but not hard (my Danish recipe book say "soft enough not to tear holes in the dough and hard enough not to melt the dough" - guess it's a matter of practice), and cut it into thin slices. Using a cheese-slicer will ensure an even thickness. Arrange the margarine slices to cover 1/2 the dough square. Now fold the unbuttered half over the other one. Roll out gently into the original size. Repeat this folding and rolling process 4-5 times (or use the method in this video)

This process is called laminating. The dough can now be cut into the various shapes these pastries can take.

Other recipes you might need, depending on which pastry you intend to make:

1 egg
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs potato flour or cornflour
250 ml milk
vanilla essence or other desired flavouring, to taste

Heat the milk to boiling in a large saucepan. Whip together the egg and sugar until light and fluffy, sift in the potato flour, mixing well and gradually add the hot milk (a thin, slow stream is best). Put the custard into the saucepan and stir continuously over medium heat until the mixture starts boiling. Then remove from the heat, add the flavouring and cool. This custard should be very thick and should be completely cooled when put on the pastry.

Almond paste:
100 g almonds
100 g icing sugar
1-2 egg yolks

Blanch and peel the almonds and chop them very, very finely (or grind them in a coffee grinder, not quite to flour consistency). Coconut flakes may be used instead of part of the almonds. Mix in the sugar and gradually add a half-whipped egg or egg yolk while stirring the mixture. Stop adding the egg when the mixture is fairly thick but still spreadable.

300 g icing sugar
50 ml hot water
Optional: A couple of tablespoons of cocoa powder for cocoa icing, or a few drops of red food colouring to turn the icing pink (there are often two colours of icing used, usually either white and cocoa, or white and pink.

Stir together until smooth.

Finally, until next time (when I give the instructions for Spandauers), here is an article about Danish pastry from Saveur magazine.


To Rosemary

My reply to your e-mail bounced, so I'm posting my reply here in the hope that you will visit the blog again and see it:

Hello Rosemary,

I hear from time to time from people who have been stationed in Keflavik or who have accompanied their spouses there, and it's always interesting to see what foods they miss (usually the fish and the hot dogs, but also miscellaneous other stuff).

As it happens, both Gunnars mayonnaise and smoked lamb can be ordered on-line through the website nammi.is. The following links will take you to the right pages: for mayonnaise: http://nammi.is/mayonnaise-250-ml-p-1398.html
and for smoked lamb: http://nammi.is/ss-smoked-leg-of-lamb-13001700-gr-p-391.html

However, you should check if there are any import restrictions either product before you order.

Best regards and I hope you get the chance to visit Iceland again.
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with nammi.is and do not get paid for mentioning them here. I have never used them myself and don't know what kind of service they give, but I have never heard anything bad about them.