Brunsviger, a Danish yeasted cake baked with a cinnamon-spiced brown sugar glaze, is what you get from crossing a sticky bun with coffee cake. Thanks to a focaccia-like dimpling, a freshly baked brunsviger is a study in texture: the topping crisps on the top of the bread, and leaves behind cavernous dimples laden with molten brown sugar – and burst blueberries, an addition I adore.
It is hefty with sugar and in this case I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I first came across a recipe for brunsviger, I skimmed past it. In part because I am always overwhelmed with the array of different Scandinavian desserts and end up quickly flipping through every page, and in part because I thought I had this recipe pegged as a brown sugar topped yeasted cake. Which it is – but I had completely missed the point of the rugged topography of the cake and the textural contrast that ensues. As is a lot of Nordic recipes, the basic ingredients are the same: the flour and butter and sugar and eggs and maybe cinnamon or cardamom, but then how they’re put together is what makes each dessert such standouts.
This version is not quite a faithful brunsviger. I love adding fruit to dessert and thought that the dimples of brunsviger would be a fitting receptacle for small blueberries – and it is. They bake cradled in sugar and cinnamon until syrupy, a fittingly cozy tribute to the end of summer and entering fall (or anytime! I’ve done it with both fresh and frozen blueberries). I’ve also modified the dough to be partially whole grain and flecked with orange peel. It bakes up soft and fluffy regardless. Cut it into squares and be sure to have with coffee.
Adapted from Magnus Nilsson’s The Nordic Baking Book.
- 120g warm milk
- 1 tsp (4g) instant yeast
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- grated zest of 1 orange
- 60g soft butter
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 100g whole grain spelt flour or whole wheat flour
- 130g all-purpose flour
- 75g butter
- 120g brown sugar
- scant tbsp ground cinnamon
- a couple pinches kosher salt
- 100g fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw beforehand)
Line an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square pan with a parchment paper sling and butter the remaining exposed sides.
To make the dough, combine the warm milk, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a standmixer. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until a dough is formed. Knead with the dough hook for about 8-10 minutes or until a very soft, smooth and elastic dough is formed.
Stretch and pat the dough out evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until about doubled in height, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400F.
Prepare the topping once the dough is risen. Combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan and heat gently until the mixture is melted.
Dampen your fingers to prevent them from sticking to the dough, the press evenly spaced deep dimples into the dough, rather like dimpling focaccia. Scatter the blueberries over top, mostly aiming for the dimples. Dampen your fingers once again, and then press the blueberries into the dimples to ensure that they are blueberry-filled dimples.
Finally, spoon the warm sugar mixture evenly overtop.
Place in the oven and bake around 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190F.
Let cool a bit on a wire rack. Run a knife around the two edges without parchment paper and use the parchment paper sling to lift the bread from the tin. Slice into 9 or 16 squares and eat while still warm. If you have leftovers, be sure to warm them up before eating!