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LIVING IN DENMARK

Ten tasty pastries you should be able to identify if you live in Denmark

The making of Danish pastries is an art form all of its own, and you don't count as really integrated until you can name the most common types.

Ten tasty pastries you should be able to identify if you live in Denmark
The Kanelsnegl and Høj snegl are some of the most popular Danish Wienerbrød. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

It’s a sign of the cultural alchemy that went into creating Denmark’s delicious pastries that what American’s call a “Danish”, the Danes themselves call wienerbrød, or “Viennese bread”, with the very first brought to Denmark in the 1840s by enterprising Austrian bakers.

Neighbouring Sweden has also thrown some things into the mix, with perhaps the most popular variety, the Kanelsnegl, literallycinnamon snail” basically just an evolution of the less tasty and certainly less fattening Swedish Kanelbulle or “cinnamon bun”.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the various tasty treats Denmark’s many bakeries and cafés have on on offer and how to recognise them. 

The top five: 

Bakeries adapt their kanelsnegl in many different ways. Photo: Maria Nielsen/Visit Denmark

Kanelsnegl

The cinnamon snail has come a long way from its soft, moist, doughy Swedish cousin, with a crispy, buttery, flaky pastry that can be almost biscuit-like. The cinnamon should be almost welded to the surface with melted sugar, and it’s normally topped off with a little dollop of icing. 

The Kanelsnegl has spawned countless luxurious variations, such as the Høj Snegl, or high snail, which is a taller version, with a less biscuity pastry,, and filled with remonce, the creamy Danish cake filling made from creaming butter, sugar, and sometimes spices or marzipan together. 

Bakeries will often come up with their own new variants, such as a croissant snegl, a romsnegl (with a rum-flavoured remonce) or a Brunsvigersnegl, that mixes the concept with that of the dark sugary syrup of a Brunsviger cake,

On Wednesdays, most bakers will make an onsdagssnegl, a “Wednesday snail“, which is a jumbo version with a special twist, often with a softer dough and cream in the middle. 

Spandauer filled with raspberry jam. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Spandauer

Competing with the Kanelsnegl for the top spot in the hierarchy of Danish wienerbrød is the Spandauer, named after a famous Berlin prison which it supposedly resembles. 

Flaky dough, laminated with butter like a croissant, is shaped to form a well into which custard crème or jam is poured, with sliced and lightly broken-up nuts often sprinkled on top.

Tebirkes (top half) and Frøsnapper (bottom half) ready for delivery. Photo: Maria Nielsen/Visit Denmark

Tebirkes 

This poppy-seed foldover is definitely in the top five list. It’s traditionally stuffed with remonce and is somewhat less sweet than the kanelsnegl, (although it arguably makes up for this in fat).

Sometimes in Denmark you’ll see a plain birkes, which is less sweet and don’t have the remoulade filling and which you sweeten by slathering with your own jam. You can also find a grovbirkes, which is a savoury poppyseed roll which can be eaten with cheese.

According to St Peders Bageri, Copenhagen’s oldest bakery, a tebirkes should be “crisp – and not dry – and at the same time have a centre that is moist and soggy”. 

So now you know. 

Photo: St Peters Bageri

Kardemommesnurrer

These plaited buns or twists are made by weaving a soft dough around a delicious cardamom remonce before baking. They are closer to a Swedish cardamom bun, and are delicious, with a buttery, earthy aroma. You can also get a cinnamon version. 

Frøsnappere

A Frøsnappere or “seed snapper” is buttery puff pastry that’s been smeared in a sticky remonce and poppy seeds and then twisted around itself and baked to make a sort of crunchy, sweet wand. They are also sometimes made in savoury versions with cream cheese and sesame seeds. 

The second division: 

Photo: Udo Schröter/Wikimedia Commons

Kanelgifler 

To make Kanelgifler, the cinnamon remonce is rolled into pastry in a similar way as for a cinnamon roll, but the ensuing bun is baked pastry side down.

 

Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix
 

Hindbærsnitter

These raspberry slices are made from a sweetened shortcrust pastry layered with raspberry jam, topped with icing and sprinkles, and then cut into bars. 

Rabarbersnitter

A seasonal variant on Hindbærsnitter made with a tart rhubarb filling, often lent some sweetness by a smear of remonce and then sprinkled with sliced almonds.

Rabarbarhorn

An alternative rhubarb-based wienerbrød is the rabarbarhorn, a flaky pastry wrapped around marzipan remonce and rhubarb.  You can also find a raspberry version, a hindbærhorn, shaped like a French croissant, or even an æblehorn, an apple version, for that matter. 

Photo: Erik Jepsen/NF/Ritzau Scanpix

Æbletærte

Most bakeries will offer some sort of Æbletærte or “apple tart”, either as a wienerbrød or cut into slices. 

Member comments

  1. I have not lived in Denmark for some time, but I am pretty sure that no Danish baker would put remoulade in a tebirkes. It is likely a spell check error, and the author meant to write remonce.

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LIVING IN DENMARK

What are the hardest things about moving to provincial Denmark as a foreigner?

Foreign residents who have moved to lesser-known regions of the country share their experiences of life in provincial Denmark. 

Provincial regions of Denmark want to attract skilled foreign workers, but what are the biggest challenges faced by relocators?
Provincial regions of Denmark want to attract skilled foreign workers, but what are the biggest challenges faced by relocators? Photo: Signe Goldmann/Ritzau Scanpix

Editor’s note: there are of course also many positives about living in provincial Denmark, and people based in those areas were happy to share those too. Read what they said in this article.

When Lea Cesar moved from Slovenia to the town of Ringkøbing in 2011, she didn’t know much about the region of western Jutland. 

“In the beginning, I didn’t like how difficult it was to find a job as a foreigner in a smaller city,” Cesar told The Local. Back then she didn’t speak Danish, and that made it hard to find a job that matched her skills and qualifications. 

“I later took it as a challenge and started my own company,” Cesar said, opening a cafe and bakery called Baking Sins in central Ringkøbing. Once she’d taken things into her own hands, she thrived and came to love her town. 

“I love the small shops with handcrafted products,” she said, drawing a comparison to the big shops and chain stores of larger cities. “The culture here is totally different. Ringkøbing is a smaller town, but feels big enough for me.”

Considering the pros and cons of a life in lesser-known parts of Denmark has never been more relevant, as the Danish government amps up efforts to decentralise Denmark and municipalities look to internationals to balance out declining populations. 

READ ALSO: Is it easier for foreigners to find a job outside Denmark’s major cities?

There may be fewer job opportunities, depending on your industry and Danish language skills

Fewer job opportunities, Cesar said, is one of the primary differences between living in a town like Ringkøbing versus a larger city. 

“There aren’t as many companies here searching for employees that only speak English,” she said. “I think it’s important to speak at least basic Danish; otherwise it would be hard to come here.”

Antoniya Petkov, originally from Bulgaria, faced similar challenges finding work when she moved to Ringkøbing several years ago after her husband accepted a job at a wind energy company in the area. 

“Most of the job opportunities in my field in the area require a high level of Danish language, which I am still working toward,” Petkov told The Local. 

In the meantime, she continues to commute to Aarhus, where she works as a technical recruiter in systematics at a large Danish software firm. “However, there are a lot more opportunities for developers, engineers and people with a technical job profile where Danish isn’t required,” Petkov said.

Even in technical roles, Danish proficiency helps. 

Victor Balaban, originally from Moldova, moved to Vejle while working at Siemens Gamesa. Although he said there are plenty of job opportunities in the region, Balaban said his options would be significantly more limited if he didn’t speak Danish.

Candice Progler-Thomsen, an American living in Lolland, said Danish proficiency is “almost essential” to find a job in the municipality. “There will be greater job opportunities here for individuals who learn Danish,” she told The Local. 

And, because it’s a smaller area with fewer employers, Progler-Thomsen said people may need to be willing to commute or otherwise expand their job search.

READ ALSO: Why (and how) Danish provincial areas want to hire skilled foreign workers

On the other hand, there may also be less competition for jobs in lesser-known parts of Denmark, said Mariola Kajkowska. 

Originally from Poland, Kajkowska moved to Vejle in 2019, where she works as an employee retention consultant. “There are often fewer applicants for each job, which increases your chance to be selected for the position,” she said.

Speaking Danish is important, professionally and socially

When Petkov first moved to Ringkøbing, it was challenging that she didn’t speak Danish. It was hard to do daily tasks, like communicate with workers at her children’s daycare or chat with her neighbours.

“People were distant at first when we bought our house in a typical Danish neighbourhood,” she said. 

It was very different from Aarhus, where they had lived before moving to Ringkøbing. “Aarhus has a huge international community,” she said. “We were always able to find friends and it was easy to get by speaking English.”

Petkov also missed the variety of English events and activities available in Aarhus. “But, we compensate by going to international events in the municipality,” she said.

Balaban, who established baseball clubs in both Herning and Vejle, said being a part of the community and getting involved is integral to building a social network and making friends in Vejle. “You have to be an active part of society,” he said.

Although learning Danish was a challenge, Petkov also saw it as an opportunity. “I’m not sure I would have learned Danish if we were living in Copenhagen or Aarhus,” she said. “You just don’t need it much there.”

Now, she’s learned enough Danish to engage in small talk with her neighbours. “Once people got used to us, we felt very welcome,” Petkov said, “though I don’t think we will ever blend completely.”

Chris Wantia, also a resident of Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality, has found Danish to be integral to life in rural Denmark. 

He lives in the village of Bork Havn, population 300. “When I walk out of my house, I don’t expect my 65-year-old Danish neighbour to speak to me in English,” Wantia told The Local.

“English may be fine in the big cities, but speaking Danish here is important,” he said, adding that it would have been very challenging to purchase and renovate the two homes he and his wife, Janine, own in the municipality if he didn’t speak Danish. 

A second silver lining Petkov has identified is that living in Ringkøbing has also enabled her family to engage more deeply with Danes and Danish culture, adding that most of her friends are Danish. 

“If you really want to dive into Danish culture, a place like Ringkøbing is amazing,” she said.

There’s less to do, depending on your interests (and you might need to drive)

“You can count on one hand the number of good restaurants within 50 kilometres of Bork Havn,” Wantia told The Local. Although that wasn’t a dealbreaker for him and his wife, Janine, it might be worth some consideration before moving to a village like Bork Havn. 

“If you want many restaurants, parties, or meeting new people all the time, this isn’t the place for you,” he said. “It’s quiet here. Some people might not like that, but it’s perfect for us.”

Vejle, though much larger than Bork Havn with a population of 113,000, also isn’t a very lively city in terms of nightlife, according to Balaban.

“I’d say it’s a mature city,” he said. “It’s a quiet city that attracts a lot of families and people who are more settled down.”

Ultimately, having ‘things to do’ nearby depends on which activities you prefer. 

In Lolland, Progler-Thomsen said it’s “a bit of a sacrifice” to not have easy access to the cultural activities the family had in Copenhagen. 

READ ALSO: Are provincial parts of Denmark a good option for international families?

In exchange, her family has access to activities it enjoys that weren’t available in Copenhagen, including many outdoor activities and sports. “We love the Safari Park that’s only a 7-minute drive from our house,” Progler-Thomsen said. 

That’s something else to consider, though: driving. 

Kajkowska, in Vejle, said driving will play more of a role in one’s life, living in these parts of Denmark. “I was at a party the other night and two cars had driven one and a half hours from Sønderborg to come to the party,” she said.

READ ALSO: What benefits does life in provincial Denmark offer foreign residents?

For the most part, Petkov said she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out by living in Ringkøbing.

She enjoys several favorite cafes in town, an Italian restaurant where they are regulars and enjoy chatting with the owners, exploring the beaches and woods, and escaping to the wellness hotel near their house for mini-breaks. “In the summer, it feels like living at a resort,” Petkov said. 

“Ringkøbing is a great place for our family,” she said. “The benefits outweigh the drawbacks for us.”

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