Danish Smørrebrød, olives and fennel

Smørrebrød would translate into something like butter and bread. This is a quite striking example of how I used to eat my bread. The bread always had to be accompanied by slightly salted butter. Without the butter, I would not go for it. And sometimes it even felt as if the bread was more of an accompaniment to the butter, than the other way round. Turning vegan living without butter was one of my biggest scares, not the regular one like missing cheese but butter (and sometimes whipping cream). Now a few years later I’m amazed of how easy the transition has been. Not only did the cravings stop in a few days, I also got a lot healthier without that thick layer on top.


Smørrebrød isn’t just about the butter though, its more about everything else you put on it. The word Smørre just got me started. This danish bread is like an open sandwich where you put anything to your liking on top. Its normally based on a dark rye bread, some creamy spread and, then its time to get creative. The danish rye bread is quite unique, its very dense, extremely filling, and tastes like heaven (if done correctly). It will take some time with the sourdough but definitely worth it. So instead of just cooking, we’ll get into bread making.


I’ll give you a recipe for this olive-sunflower spread thats really savoury and umami-ish. But go for whatever flavour combination you like. I managed to get some organic spreads from my local supermarket for 50%. That sounds great, but it is not. The store might be a gigantic supermarket (and yes, you need a damn car to go there) but I like this store since they carry a lot of organic produce. They are closing down, to much competition. When I asked why they were out of stock for so many things they dropped the bomb. First I didn’t get what the cashier was telling me. Closing down, for the night? What did that have to do with their shelves being empty? Then I grasped it, the store will be gone, completely. This is sad news, since theres no farmers market around here. It all finished last week with a gigantic sale, great for the wallet but not for the emotions. And it was eerie walking around in the almost empty store. I just hope there will be a good substitute for this place, and please farmers, unite and start selling your own stuff! But at least I got some spreads suitable for Smørrebrød.


Danish Smørrebrød, olives and fennel
What you need
  • 1 tbsp active sourdough (just google it if you don't have it, it takes a few days go get it started).
  • 400 g rye flour
  • 200 g cracked rye
  • 100 g seeds
  • 20 g salt
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • 600 ml lukewarm water
How to do it
  1. Mix the sourdough with 100 g rye flour and 100 ml water. Mix well, cover and let sit in a warm spot during the night. It should be bubbly and very active in the morning. This is our starter.
  2. Mix the rest of the dry ingredients and wet ones separately.
  3. Mix them together, make sure there aren't any lumps of flour left. You don't have to overmix this bread.
  4. Place in an oiled loaf pan. Make sure to flatten it, so there aren't any pockets of air in the pan. Add some seeds on top and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Lest it rest until it has risen about 20%, this might take between 3-8 hours depending on temperature and other factors.
  5. Heat the oven to 175°C or 350°F. Bake it for 1 hour and 40 min. You might have to cover it if it gets to dark on the top. Let it cool before you cut it.

Olive and sunflower spread
What you need
  • 0.5 cup sunflower seeds
  • 0.25 cup olives
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
How to do it
  1. Mix everything in a food processor. Season to taste


For the fennel, just lightly fry them in some oil and your good to go. The flavour is good on its own.


Assemble by cutting thin slices of rye bread, the spread, fennel, onions and fennel greens on top. OR your own way.

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