HCA NEWS The Swedes are crazy about Andersen-inspired cakes

The Swedes are very fond of Danish pastry and cakes - particularly, the variety inspired by Hans Christian Andersen.

By Mikkel Stjernberg - H.C. Andersen 2005 - 20 November 2003

The Swedish predilection for coffee cake is renowned, and they are particularly fond of the Danish variety, which always fetches high praise on the other side of the Sound.

In fact, the Swedes are so enthusiastic about Danish "kaffebröd", as it is called in our neighbor land, that Swedish journalists regularly make it a focal point in their reports from Denmark.

Sweet tooth
So, too, with the approach of the celebration of Hans Christian Andersen's 200th birthday in 2005, as the Danish writer is regularly linked to Danish pastry, despite the fact that there is no documentation that Hans Christian Andersen had any particular fondness for sweets.

Recently, the Swedish regional periodical Västerbottningen published an article that, taking Hans Christian Andersen as the starting point in the lead, provides a detailed account of the relationship Danes have to pastries and cakes in general.

The fairytale writer is mentioned nowhere else in the article, but this does not prevent the writer from rounding it off with four recipes from the time, respectively, "grahams-tekakor" ["graham flour tea cakes"], "grahams-färskost" ["graham flour and cream cheese cake"], "Odense-längd med marcipan" ["Odense marcipan rolls"] and above all "Danska vännens älsklingskaka: Brunsviger"["our Danish friend's favorite: Brunsviger"].

Fairytale brunsviger
To be fair, it must be said that graham flour appeared in Denmark at the beginning of the 19th century and, of course, it may have had some effect on Andersen's diet.

Apparently, however, it is especially with the recipe for brunsviger that the link to Hans Christian Andersen is to be found. Danish brunsviger first saw the light of day almost 200 years ago and was a popular type of pastry in Hans Christian Andersen's time.

In other words, the probability is pretty high that Hans Christian Andersen once sank his teeth into the fatty pastry and felt its unmelted sugar crunch between his molars. Maybe, it was too much of a good brunsviger that caused one of Andersen's famous toothaches! Who knows? 

At any rate, we can only be glad that Danish "kaffebröd" has value beyond its gastronomic qualities, because, for some reason or other, it has made Swedes think of Hans Christian Andersen.

Perhaps, it is because Andersen enjoyed the good things in life, and it cannot be denied that a bite of warm brunsviger, made from the original, 200-year old recipe, tastes as rich as a fairytale.