Nordic Cuisine for the Home Cook – “Tebirkes” Danish Poppy Seed Rolls

Danish “Tebirkes” is to Denmark, what the croissant is to France – a trademark and an old and beloved tradition.
By Mia Irene Kristensen

Danish “Tebirkes” is to Denmark, what the croissant is to France – a trademark and an old and beloved tradition. I don’t know what my morning bike ride would be like, if I didn’t just once passed a bakery, filling my nose with the most amazing scent of freshly baked Danishes – .  They’re traditionally served for breakfast and are best freshly baked, so don’t try to save these goodies – eat up instead!

“Danish” with Austrian origin
Even though the name refers to Denmark, the origin of these puff pastry goods are actually Austrian and dates back to the 18th and 19th century. Austrian bakers brought the tradition of the buttery bread to Denmark during a bakers strike and the fluffy new style of baked goods was adapted by the Danish bakers, adding more butter, sugar and filling and refining the method of rolling and folding, making the pastry even more rich, sweet (almost caramelized) and flaky. 

Tebirkes ready to bake – Cool down the all the ingredients for the dough, then it’s much easier to handle.

Simple recipe – worldwide concept
The ingredients are simple, originally butter, flour, water, salt, milk and yeast, so it’s extremely important to use fresh ingredients of a high quality. Apparently a big part of the world has taking “co-ownership” of the Danishes, so they’re now being served in everything from 7-eleven to cafeterias. Unfortunately the quality is often left behind in favor of industrialized products and bake-off, leaving the Danish with a spotted reputation. There’s only one thing to state from that – save your hunger for Danishes for the good bakeries or bake them yourself!

The thin layers of butter melts in the hot oven, this creates the flaky texture, that is loved in both Danishes and croissants.

Boosting the flavor of traditional pastry
I like the traditional refined version of Danish pastry, but to me it’s possible to improve the texture and enhance the natural flavor of the flour by adding sourdough and mild seeds and flakes, e.g. rolled oats, flax seeds. I also use stone grinded flour, since it has more flavor from the germ (even though it’s not whole wheat flour).  Organic butter is bright yellow and has deep, sometimes nutty flavor that is spot on in a puff pastry. Go for that, if you have the opportunity.

I’m not sure whether it was the Austrian or the Danish baker, who decided to roll up the dough for these “Tebirkes”, filling it with remonce (butter, sugar and marcipan) and sprinkling with poppy seeds, but to me this is the most “Danish” of all the Danishes.

BONUS INFO: If you stretch and twist them before letting them rise, you get what’s called a “Frøsnapper

Eat them straight of the baking tray or let them cool a bit and serve with cold butter!
5.0 from 1 reviews
Tebirkes - Danish Poppy Seed Rolls
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Fluffy, flaky and irresistible on a Sunday morning
Author:
Recipe Type: Baking, Breakfast
Serves: 15
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • 250 ml cold milk
  • 100 ml sourdough or sour cream/live yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 egg
  • 15 g fresh yeast
  • 3 tbsps flaxseeds
  • 3 tbsps sunflower seeds
  • 35 g barley-, wheat or oat flakes
  • 425 g bread flour (preferable cooled in the fridge or freezer for 30mins beforehand)
  • 8 g sea salt
  • 250g unsalted butter
  • Remonce:
  • 80g sugar
  • 100g soft unsalted butter
  • 100g marzipan (or almond paste)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • Sprinkling:
  • 1 egg
  • a pinch of salt
  • 20g poppy seeds
Instructions
  1. Mix the all the ingredients for the dough, exept the salt and butter, in a bowl.
  2. Knead the dough for 3 minutes by hand, until combined (the texture should be quite firm, like gum).
  3. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes in the fridge before adding the salt and kneading for 3 more minutes.
  4. Let it rest for 10 minutes in the fridge before rolling it into a rectangle (1½cm thick)
  5. Place a thin layer of butter (use a potato peeler to cut the cold butter) in the center third of the rectangle and fold in the sides.
  6. Roll out again and continue as before until all the butter is rolled into the dough.
  7. (Cool the dough in the fridge for 5-10 minutes if it becomes difficult to handle).
  8. Grate the marzipan and mix it with the soft butter and sea salt.
  9. Roll the dough out one last time and spread the remonce in the center (lenght ways).
  10. Roll the dough into a roulade and press it flat.
  11. Cut the the dough-roulade into 15 pieces and place then on a lined baking sheet. Cover them lightly and leave them to rise in warm spot, for 2 hours (or in a cold place over night and then 1½ hour in a warm place the next day).
  12. Whisk the egg together with a pinch of salt. Carefully brush the Tebirkes with the the egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
  13. Bake the Tebirkes for 20 minutes at 220C degrees/200C fan, until golden and crisp.
Notes
If you dont want to get up early to bake Danishes for the sunday breakfast, you can make them ahead. Without rising and baking them, freeze them in sealed box or bag. Take them out of the freezer the night before serving and let them thaw and rise at room temperature for 8 hours. Brush with whisked egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Then continue with step 13.

 

Mia Irene Kristensen

Mia Irene Kristensen is a passionate food blogger, creative recipe developer and Master Student in Food Science and Technology. When not braising and baking, she runs the companies CPH Good Food and TASTE CPH. This keeps her in touch with her creative side and passion for cooking, as she is constantly working on new projects, developing recipes, hosting cooking classes and food walks, and lastly trying to teach the public a tiny bit of the science that goes on in their pot and pans.

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9 Comments
  1. My mother was of Swedish and Danish decent, so I am familiar with many Scandinavian recipes, but I have not seen this recipe before and it looks hard to resist. My Swedish great grandmother harvested her own poppyseeds for baking. I know she made a semi-sweet cardamom roll for sandwiches, where she used poppy seeds, but I do not have all her recipes. My website at weebly is not currently published, but I hope to do this by the end of November.

  2. Hi Susanna
    I think it’s a very Danish recipe and maybe also quite regional for Sealand(if there is such thing), so that might be the reason. Do try it, and let me know if there’s anything similar in the recipes from your mother. Sounds very interesting, so will look forward to see your published site.

    Best,
    Mia

  3. Hi, Mia!

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I lived in Copenhagen as an university student twenty years ago and Frøsnapper was my favourite pastry. I still remember when I bought my first one!

    I returned to Copenhagen last May with my husband and I found my Frøsnapper again. When I looked on line for the recipe once we got back, I couldn’t find anything so I was super excited to find your recipe a couple of days ago. I made Frøsnapper yesterday and even sent it to a friend in New York who lived with the same Danish host family as me and discovered Frøsnapper in the same bakery!

    Two notes if you don’t mind. Frøsnapper also has sesame seeds so I added those and it’s important to use a cooking sheet with sides because the layers of butter melt and run off a flat cookie sheet and burn in the oven.

    I’ve converted the metric to American if anyone needs the measurements.

    Tusind tak!

    Kimberly

  4. I would really appreciate the American measurements for the Danish Poppy seed rolls.
    Thank you in advance for helping me out as I can speak Danish but can’t read it, so this would really help.

    Thank you,
    Ellen Roberts

  5. I was an exchange student to Denmark in high school and then lived there for some time afterward. I LOVE tebirkes and have searched for this recipe for ages. Thank you! (I wish it weren’t metric!) It’s mostly in the Copenhagen area or at least on Sjælland where tebirkes have the remonce. My friends in Jutland call them “Københavner birkes.” :-)

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