February in Denmark is marked by cream-filled fastelavnsboller fever. Especially this year. Without the escape of faraway winter breaks, it seemed to obtain a taste from every craft baker in Copenhagen was how we were collectively wandering. You too? We definitely tried a few. But I’m grateful the sweets are only in shops for a limited time. Too much a good thing, sometimes just too much.
So when the calendar turned over to March, the Danes make welcome to spring. Here, they follow the meteorological definition for the first day of Spring as March 1st. Personally, I’m more of a Spring Equinox person, but this was probably the first year we’ve lived here where the weather and season seemed fit to start at the beginning of the month. Suddenly, snowdrops, those pretty little harbingers of the season were pushing up in gardens and parks around town. The Danes call the delicate white and green blooms “vintergækker.” Gæk – an old Danish word that means to tease or make fun of. I love the idea that these little flowers are literally making fun of winter that was cold enough to freeze bodies of water last month.
What the Danes eat in the Spring
For starters on many tables this season, you’ll find pretty little blini topped with Dansk kaviar. Danish caviar, as the Danes like to claim the pretty peachy pink pearls or fish roe from the stenbiderrogn. Or Lumpfish. A funny-looking, not swift-swimming round little number that inhabits the cold waters of the Arctic and North Atlantic from Canada to Greenland to Norway. In Scandinavia, the eggs are a delicacy this time of year appearing in markets and shops selling frisk fisk from late January through May.
Danish Caviar on homemade blinis for starters at Easter
The traditional way to serve stenbiderrogn in Denmark is a little scoop atop a mini blini or pancake. A little plop of creme fraiche keeps the little slightly briny eggs from rolling right off. Garnish with diced red onion and a sprig of dill or chopped chives. Personally, not a huge fan of dill, so I prefer the fresh chives. You can keep things easy and purchase pre-made blini, often sold in the same spot as the roe. But this year, I thought I’d try to fashion my own and it was well worth the effort.
Recipe for home made blinis
I adapted a recipe from Danish food blogger and cookbook author, Ann-Christine Hellerup Brandt of Valdemarsro. You can find the recipe here.
I couldn’t find buckwheat flour for her recipe in the shops near me, so I used half graham flour and half all-purpose flour (hvedemel in Danish). 75 grams of each. Getting the little pancakes a consistent round size can be a challenge, but it really doesn’t matter, because the wonky ones taste just as good. Serve with a glass of bubbles for a Danish spring treat.