The Art of the Danish Open-Faced Sandwich:
Smørrebrød puts a dense rye at center stage, then smothers it in toppings and hygge
For centuries, various cultures have embraced the open-faced sandwich–the Medieval trencher, the Italian crostini, the Spanish Montadito, the French Tartine. None have captivated eaters as thoroughly as the Danish smørrebrød, or “butter bread,” a dynamic vehicle of tastes and textures built on a template of hearty, whole-grain rye.
It is food tied to place. Local rye bread has been a Scandinavian tradition perforce, as northern European growing conditions have typically favored the grain over wheat. Similarly, the toppings on smørrebrød have long been local products preserved in some form: pickled herring, fermented vegetables, milk preserved as cheeses, and cured meats. The smørrebrød experience is now taking root in the United States, with new Nordic cuisine co-founder Claus Meyer opening a bakery in New York’s Grand Central Station and Kantine opening in San Francisco. The sandwich is also a great entry into the Danish cultural institution of hygge, that special feeling of coziness you can get at a table crowded with food and friends. Andrew Ross and Eric Sorensen will devote part of this seminar to the mixing and baking of a seeded rye, discussing along the way the grain’s foibles and features. Participants will also learn the smørrebrød fundamentals as they construct and devour a variety of the genre’s standbys.
No stranger to the Gathering, Ross spent several years in Denmark before joining the Oregon State University faculty as a cereal chemist.
Sorensen is a Pullman microbaker and first-generation Danish-American who grew up eating smørrebrød.