Sometimes I just get this insistent craving for a good Danish brunsviger, or, what probably best translates into sticky brown sugar butter bread cake. There are so many scrumptious and awesome classic Danish cakes and pastries, and yet, this is the one I’d always choose above the rest. That is if I was forced to make the choice. (Let’s hope that never happens!)
In Denmark this cake originally comes from my native island Fünen (Fyn). For all of my birthdays when I was a kid, my mom would serve brunsviger. And for many kids who come from Fünen this cake continues to be a must for their birthdays.
Every little town on the island has its own version of brunsviger, and all of them seem to think that their version is the best. So even though this recipe is an original from my hometown, you might find some people from Fünen claiming their version, not this one, is the right one. But of course I think this version is the best 🙂
Classic Danish brunsviger – sticky brown sugar butter bread cake
For the bread base:
3 1/4 cups (14 oz/400 g) all-purpose flour
2 oz (50 g) fresh yeast or 2 tbsp (14-15 g) active dry yeast
3.5 oz (100 g) salted butter (softened, room temperature)
7 oz (200 ml) whole milk (3.5 % fat)
For the brown sugar topping:
175 g salted butter
225 g brown sugar
Optional: 2 tbsp of light brown syrup (not maple!) – most often classic recipes do not include syrup, but it makes the topping a little more smooth
1. Start by preparing the dough for the butter bread base. The process differs slightly depending on whether you use fresh or dry yeast. For both types of yeast start by gently heating up the milk to about 95 F (35 C).
Fresh yeast: You need to dissolve the yeast in the milk first before mixing with the other ingredients. Pour the warm milk into a large bowl and break up the yeast a bit and add it. Let it soften in the milk for a minute or two before you begin stirring. This way the yeast will more easily dissolve in the milk. Then add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough well.
Dry yeast: First mix the yeast well with the flour. Then add the warmed milk first and then the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough well.
Kneading the dough: For both processes you can use an electric dough mixer if you like, or your hands if you like a bit of muscle exercise. make sure you knead the dough well. It should start to take on an elastic texture.
2. Let the dough rest in a warm place for about 25 minutes. Make sure the dough has risen before you go to the next step. Especially with dry yeast, the dough sometimes needs to rest a bit longer.
4. Butter a deep baking tray about 10 x 13.5 inches (25 x 35 cm). Drizzle some flour on your kitchen counter and roll out the dough into a rectangle about the same size as the pan.
5. Roll the dough carefully onto the rolling pin, and place it in the baking tray. Adjust the dough to make sure it goes all the way to the edges of the baking tray. Press the dough gently with your hands to even it out. Let it rest and rise for another 40 minutes.
6. While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C). About 15 minutes before the dough is done resting, prepare the brown sugar topping. Put the butter and brown sugar in a pot over low heat and let it melt together while you stir. This should take no more than 5-10 minutes. Take it off the heat and leave to cool a bit. If you’d like to use syrup as well, pour it into the brown sugar- butter mix now.
7. Carefully pour the brown sugar-butter over the dough (I find it easier to do if I use a spoon). Make sure to spread it evenly. Bake in the oven for about 15-20 minutes. (Check if the bread base is properly baked by sticking a steak fork or knitting pin into the middle of the cake before you take it out of the oven.) Let the cake rest for at least 30 minutes before serving your Danish brunsviger.
Loved this classic Danish brunsviger, but still crave more cake? Here’s another amazing, and very easy, cake recipe:
This cake is a wonderfully tasty dessert, packed with crunchiness and warm fruit flavors. Serve with a good vanilla ice cream, and you’ll be sure to put a smile on everyone’s face. It’s also almost ridiculously easy to make, so it’s perfect for an evening of entertaining, where you’d like to be with your guests while impressing them with your awesome cooking.