Let me introduce you to my favorite cookie of all time: Fedtebrød. Though the name does very little to sell the cookie (it literally translates to ‘grease bread’) I can assure you that it is nothing less than amazing. Danes have a knack for baking cookies and with this one they hid the nail on the head. It is the perfect combination of both flakey, chewy and tart – all in one cookie!
In my family we bake these a lot (as in all the time), ‘cause they literally take no time at all to make. From the time you take out the flour till you’ve cut them out, no more than half an hour will have past. It’s like magic! The only catch is that there is only one way to eat them: You eat one. Then you eat another one. And another one. And then you just keep on going until the tin is empty. You can keep them for a little over a week, but why should you?
I got this recipe from every Dane’s favorite cookbook: Frøken Jensens Kogebog (Miss Jensen’s Cookbook). You will find this book on the shelf in every household in Denmark, no exceptions. It is the perfect basic-recipe cookbook and contains every basic recipe that you will ever need. I religiously use it every time I bake classic Danish cookies ‘cause you simply won’t find recipes, though they might be very modest, that can beat these.
But since it is a very Danish recipe, it also calls for a very Scandinavian ingredient: Ammonium bicarbonate. I have never seen this in any English recipes and therefore assume that it is not easily obtained outside of Scandinavia. You could use bicarbonate of soda instead – it pretty much does the same job. The advantage of ammonium bicarbonate is that it leaves no aftertaste in the cookies what so ever (it will, though, in moist cakes, so don’t try to use it for those). But if you do find it and decide to give it a go, don’t be alarmed when you open the oven door and is met by a very unpleasant smell, it is just the ammonia reacting. The smell will be foul but the cookie will be delicious. Trust me on this one.
Another thing worth mentioning is the glaze. This can raise the roofs of the small Danish homes: ‘Cause should it be made from lemon or rum? We all have fond memories of these cookies and if you remember them with lemon glaze, there is no way that they will ever be real fedtebrød with rum glaze. My mom and grandmother has always made them with lemon glaze, so in my opinion that is the only way. Who would ever in their right mind make these with a rum glaze? Crazy people, that’s who!
So on that note there should be only one thing left to mention: Eggless dough! Enjoy!
Fedtebrød (Danish coconut shortbread)
200 g butter, room temperature
100 g sugar
250 g flour
100 g desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp. ammonium bicabonate
250 g powdered sugar
Juice of 1-1,5 lemons or a little rum
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Mix the flour, desiccated coconut and ammonium bicarbonate (which can be replaced by baking soda) in a large bowl. Rub in the butter and sugar and knead until the dough is smooth and binds together. It will act like a shortcrust pastry dough (it will be very dry and crumbly), so just be patient and keep kneading until it behaves.
Divide the dough into three and roll them out into sausages the length of your baking tray. Put them on the lined baking tray and flatten them out into rectangles at about 0.5-1 cm in thickness. Keep some space between them as they will spread a little.
Put them in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes. Take them out when they are lightly golden. If they turn too dark you won’t be able to cut them.
While the cookies are baking make the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar and lemon juice/rum until a thick consistency.
Take the cookies out of the oven and immediately spread the icing sugar over the middle of the rectangles while they’re still hot. I did it very rustic (because loads of glaze is the right amount of glaze), but you could just keep to the inner 2-3 cm of the rectangle. Then with a sharp knife cut the them into 2 cm thick slices crosswise. Keep a damp cloth in arm’s reach and wipe the knife every so often, so you don’t mess up the glaze too much.
Let the cookies cool completely and store them in an airtight container for about a week or so, or eat them warm and gooey right away with a hot cup of tea.