A jewel of the Danish baking tradition
Breakfast in Denmark
Rundstykker is a jewel of the Danish baking tradition, unparalleled in its soft, almost cotton candy-like middle, and its chewy hard exterior. Picture a round, honey-colored roll, topped with either poppy seeds, sesame seeds, or naked and crispy, and you may begin to imagine the smell of the fresh, cooked dough that floats down Danish city streets each morning.
Breakfast in Denmark comes with little morning fanfare, I have learned living here. Like in much of Europe, morning meals here are quick, simple, and (usuully) cheap. Coming from Canada, where breakfasts are huge and covered in maple syrup, I did once attempt to satisfy my brunch craving and learned that US$30 later, it was not worth it. As always it is best to mimic the locals and I soon learn that breakfast is best when served at my local bakery, in the form of Rundstykker.
One morning, I am not at Fru Neilsen’s Bageri, my usual morning stop down the street from my flat in Aarhus, but seated around a breakfast table in Ribe, Denmark. If you make Danish friends, you will be invited (hopefully) to eat with them at their houses. My friend, Ulrikke, invited me to Ribe to stay with her family.
Although we are enjoying muesli and not Ryndstukker, the conversation veers there when I mention it is the one thing my Danish-born grandfather always brings up about his homeland. Ulrikke’s father, Torkilde, the town priest, chuckles at that. He notes that the Rundstykker bun started to grow in popularity after the Second World War.
This was around the time that Denmark’s rising middle class, endowed with a bit more purchasing power, was able to begin buying Rundstykker for special occasions. Since then, they’ve become more and more accessible. Ulrikke’s mother, Marion, says that from childhood she can only remember the buns with birkes on them (poppy seeds): “Now, you can get them with everything.” I think of my grandfather, telling us stories of his childhood when Ryndstukker was a special treat reserved for Sunday mornings.
Back in Aarhus the next day, I get up early and head to Fru Neilsen’s. We have a bit of cheese and butter in the fridge. The streets are quiet, but there’s a buzz around the entrance to the bakery, the only thing on the street open at this hour. Waiting in line with me are people young and old; a multi-generational dedication to fresh, morning baking spread.