The Happiest Breakfast in the World

This article was originally published in AmWord, a student magazine at American University. If you’re on campus, make sure to pick up a copy to read this in print and check out other great articles!

Breakfast has never been my favorite meal of the day. Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of breakfast foods. It’s just that the actual act of eating breakfast always seems to turn into a rushed affair involving some sort of processed junk, shoveling down a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats or grabbing a granola bar on my way out the door.  Breakfast in the States has just lost the respect it deserves. If people even bother to eat it, they regard it as an annoying yet necessary act; an afterthought.

In Denmark, things are different. My first breakfast here involved a variety of rolls (called boller, pronounced ball-uh) picked up from the baker down the street that morning, along with a spread of butter, jams, sliced meats, cheeses, and the infamous leverpostej (a kind of a Danish liver paté). Oh, and then plenty of fresh pastries for breakfast-dessert (no, they are not called Danishes here).

Even on a regular morning, I’ve noticed that everyone in my host family will at least sit down for five or ten minutes to eat breakfast. Some school mornings I’m even lucky enough to wake up to the smells of fresh bread wafting from the kitchen. There are few things that can get me up faster than the thought of eating a warm roll straight from the oven with melted butter dripping off the sides…

But there’s no need to feel breakfast-envy; these Danish overnight rolls are easy for anyone to make. I get fresh bread in the morning and you can too!

Photo cred: Margo Greenawald (thanks, sis)

Overnight Boller

Although these breakfast rolls take a little bit of advanced planning, they require almost no hands-on preparation time. Just make sure you start them the night before you want to eat them and leave enough time before class to actually bake them (so, you should put them in the oven before you get in your morning shower). For the full Danish experience, make sure to pick up some jam, cheese, and possibly even salami or other deli meat. And, of course, plenty of butter.

  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1 ½ cups cold water, divided
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk, put ½ tbsp vinegar in a measuring cup and then add regular milk to the ½ cup line)

In a microwave safe bowl, warm ½ cup of the water in the microwave for 20 seconds. Add the sugar and the yeast, and stir to dissolve. Wet a paper towel with warm water, and place over the yeast mixture. Put the bowl in a warm place and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine flours, oats and salt in a bowl. In a measuring cup, combine remaining cup of water and buttermilk.

After 10 minutes, check to make sure the yeast mixture is bubbling. If not, it means your yeast has not worked and you should try step 1 again with a new yeast package.

Once the yeast mixture is ready, put it in a large bowl and add about ½ cup of the flour mixture. Stir to combine and then add some of the buttermilk mixture. Continue alternating wet and dry mixtures, stirring to combine after each addition, until all ingredients are in. You should have a sticky dough.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a dish towel, and place in the refrigerator overnight. Line a pan with parchment paper and place on the counter so it’s ready for the morning.

When you wake up, preheat the oven to 375 °F. Plop large spoonfuls of batter onto the prepared pan (don’t worry about shaping the rolls). Set in a warm place to rise for 10 minutes, and then put in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Tip: To add a little variety to your boller, you could sprinkle the tops of some with sunflower, poppy, or sesame seeds before baking. Get creative!

On the Fly Brownies

This article was originally published in AmWord, a student magazine at American University. If you’re on campus, make sure to pick up a copy to read this in print and check out other great articles!

Hello hungry readers! I’m excited to be writing to you this semester from Copenhagen, Denmark! Throughout the semester I hope to be picking up some Scandinavian cooking techniques (and sharing them with you!), but this month I am writing a thoroughly American recipe: the brownie.

After living with them for a week, my host family had already heard me talk a lot about how much I love to cook and bake. However, they had yet to actually taste anything, so I decided it was time to show them what I could do. After scrounging around their kitchen for ingredients, I found almost everything I needed to make brownies–at least enough that I could wing it. Little did I know exactly how much winging I would be doing…

Almost immediately, I realized that their butter was in a tub, not in sticks like I was used to. I pulled from my baking knowledge, guessed about a stick of butter and put it in the pot to start melting. I had to guess on the amount of chocolate, too, since I was substituting the little chocolate wafers that they eat on toast in the morning. I figured as long as it looked chocolaty enough, it would turn out okay.

While the butter and chocolate were melting, I went to measure the flour. That’s when it hit me; they don’t use cup measures in Europe! I was too embarrassed to ask my host mom if she had anything equivalent or a kitchen scale or something, so I grabbed a teacup out of the cabinet and just guessed. I added a little of this and a little of that until the batter looked about right, then popped it in the oven and prayed to the kitchen gods that brownies would emerge.

Thankfully, it worked and the brownies were a hit! I’ve since discovered sticks of butter, a kitchen scale and even a measuring cup in my host family’s kitchen, but it’s nice to know I can whip something up on the fly.

On the Fly Brownies

(Adapted from Desserts by the Yard)

If I can make these with hardly any of the necessary tools, you can ditch the boxed brownies and go homemade! I promise, you’ll never go back. This is also a great base recipe to get creative with variations: go crazy adding mix-ins, spices, or whatever your heart desires!

  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, chopped
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
  • 7 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with Pam.

Melt the butter, unsweetened chocolate, and bittersweet chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl at 50% power for about 2 minutes or in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Stir until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool until tepid.

Add the eggs and sugar to the cooled butter mixture and whisk (it is important that the butter has cooled so that the eggs don’t cook!). Then add the flour and salt and mix until combined. (Alternatively, you can blend the eggs and sugar using an electric mixture until they are light and fluffy before combining them with the butter mixture. Doing this will make the brownies a little better, but may not always be worth the extra effort or cleanup.)

Scrape the batter into the pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until they are slightly firm when touched and a crust has formed on top.

Allow to cool in the pan (or don’t) and enjoy!

Photo credit: Cristiano Betta