Why do I need to know træstamme?
An easy way to impress Danes with your knowledge of Denmark, and avoid social faux pas, is to know the names of its best-loved pastries. You can’t use the blanket term ‘Danish’ (no pastry is referred to as a ‘Danish’ in Denmark) and expect to be understood.
You can then level up by showing off your knowledge of the etymology of cake names.
So what does it mean?
Literally, a tree (træ) trunk or log (stamme), and it is entirely correct to use the word when talking about tree trunks.
However, it is probably fair to say that only Danish lumberjacks – and these make up a very small proportion of the overall population – say træstamme exclusively in reference to forestry.
Woodcutting in a Danish forest in the 1940s. Photo: Hakon Nielsen / Ritzau Scanpix
For everyone else, the word is synonymous with the delicious marzipan and truffle-based cakes which can be seen behind glass counters in bakeries from Helsingør to Sønderborg.
Made by mixing a cake base with marzipan, raspberry jam, dark chocolate and some essence of rum, and then rolling it all in marzipan and dipping the ends in chocolate, the squat, round træstamme is a weighty and mouthwatering edition to any cake board.
How do I use it?
Jeg er så lækkersulten lige nu. Jeg kunne godt grovæde en træstamme.
’I fancy a tasty snack so much right now. I could stuff my face with a træstamme.’
Jeg kan nok ikke spise flere træstammer. Jeg er ved at eksplodere.
’I don’t think I could eat any more træstammes. I’m going to explode.’
Man støder ofte på bunker af træstammer, når man færdes uden for skovens markerede vandreruter.
’It's common to come across stacks of tree trunks when venturing away from the marked pathways’.
What else do I need to know?
If a Swede tells you træstammer are Swedish, you can politely object. Sweden’s equivalent, the punschrulle, is made with green marzipan, not the normal egg-white colour, and is therefore something completely different.
Punschruller are also commonly flavoured with liqueur, making them a little more, er, punchy than their Danish siblings.
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