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Ten tasty pastries you should be able to identify if you live in Denmark

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It’s a sign of cultural alchemy that went into creating Denmark’s delicious pastries that what American’s call a “Danish”, the Danes themself call wienerbrød, or “Viennese bread”, with the very first brought to Denmark in the 1840s by enterprising Austrian bakers.

Neighbouring Sweden has also thrown some things into the mix, with perhaps the most popular variety, the Kanelsnegl, literally “cinnamon snail” basically an evolution of the arguably less tasty and certainly less fattening Kanelbulle or “cinnamon bun”.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on the various tasty treats Denmark’s many bakeries and cafés have on on offer and how to recognise them. 

The top five: 

Bakeries adapt their kanelsnegl in many different ways. Photo: Maria Nielsen/Visit Denmark

Kanelsnegl

The cinnamon snail has come a long way from its soft, moisty doughy Swedish cousin, with a crispy, buttery, flaky pastry that is almost biscuit-like. The cinnamon should be almost welded to the surface with melted sugar, and it’s normally topped off with a little dollop of icing. 

The Kanelsnegl has spawned countless luxurious variations, such as the Høj Snegl, or high snail, which is a taller version, with a less biscuity pastry, somewhat closer to the Swedish version, and filled with remonce, the creamy Danish filling made from creaming butter, sugar, and spices or marzipan together. 

Bakeries will often come up with their own new variants, such as a croissant snegl, a romsnegl (with a rum-flavoured remonce) or a Brunsvigersnegl, that mixes the concept with that of the dark sugary syrup of a Brunsviger cake,

On Wednesdays, most bakers will make an onsdagssnegl, a “Wednesday snail“, which is a jumbo version with a special twist, often with a softer dough and cream in the middle. 

Spandauer filled with raspberry jam. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

Spandauer

Competing with the Kanelsnegl for the top spot is the Spandauer, named after a famous Berlin prison which it supposedly resembles. 

Flaky dough, laminated with butter like a croissant, is shaped to form a well into which custard crème or jam is poured, with sliced and lightly broken-up nuts often sprinkled on top.

Tebirkes (top half) and Frøsnapper (bottom half) ready for delivery. Photo: Maria Nielsen/Visit Denmark

Tebirkes 

This poppy-seed foldover is definitely in the top five list of wienerbrød. It’s traditionally stuffed with delicious remonce and is somewhat less sweet than the kanelsnegl, (although it arguably makes up for this in fat).

Sometimes in Denmark you’ll see a plain birkes, which is less sweet and don’t have the remoulade filling and which you sweeten by slathering with your own jam. You can also get a grovbirkes, which is a savoury poppyseed roll, and be eaten with cheese.

According to St Peders Bageri, Copenhagen’s oldest bakery, a tebirkes should be “crisp – and not dry – and at the same time have a center that is moist and soggy”. 

So now you know. 

Photo: St Peters Bageri

Kardemommesnurrer

These plaited buns or twists are made by weaving a soft dough around a delicious cardemon-flavoured remonce before baking, are closer to a Swedish cardamom bun, and are delicious, with a buttery, earthy aroma. You can also get a cinnamon version. 

Frøsnappere

A Frøsnappere or “seed snapper” is buttery puff pastry that’s been smeared in a sticky remonce and poppy seeds and then twisted around itself and baked to make a sort of crunchy, sweet wand. They are also sometimes made in savoury versions with cream cheese and sesame seeds. 

The second division: 

Photo: Udo Schröter/Wikimedia Commons

Kanelgifler 

To make Kanelgifler, the cinammon is rolled into pastry in a similar way as for a cinnamon roll, but the ensuing bun is baked pastry side down, and stuffed with a somewhat juicier cinnamon remonce. 

Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix

Test af hindbærsnitter. Her fra Granny.

Hindbærsnitter

Rasberry slices are made of sweetened shortcrust pastry layered with raspberry jam and topped with icing and sprinkles and then cut into bars. 

Rabarbersnitter

A seasonal variant on Hindbærsnitter made with a tart rhubarb filling, often lent some sweetness by a smear of remonce, and then sprinkled with sliced almonds.

Rabarbarhorn

An alternative rhubarb-based wienerbrød is the rabarbarhorn, a flaky pastry wrapped around marzipan remonce and rhubarb.  You can also find a raspberry version, a hindbærhorn, shaped like a French croissant, or an æblehorn, an apple version, for that matter. 

Photo: Erik Jepsen/NF/Ritzau Scanpix

Æbletærte

Most bakeries will offer some sort of Æbletærte or “apple tart”, either as a wienerbrød or cut into slices. 



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Officials pushed for State to buy direct provision centres from private firms

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The Government should buy a number of privately-owned direct provision centres as a “priority” as it would be more “cost effective” for the State to run the facilities for asylum seekers, international protection officials have said.

The savings arising from owning the accommodation centres rather than paying private contractors to do so “could be considerable”, departmental briefing documents provided to Minister for Children and Integration Roderic O’Gorman last year state.

The vast majority of direct provision centres are currently owned and run by private companies, with accommodation providers having received some €1.6 billion since 1999, including €183 million last year.

The latest figures show some 7,150 people are in the system of seven State-owned sites and 39 private centres. A further 24 commercially-owned premises are being used to provide emergency accommodation for asylum seekers.

The briefing document, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, says that housing people seeking asylum in State-owned centres would provide the “best protection from the vulnerability of present market reliance”.

“They are also much more cost efficient to run, and the State owns the asset,” it notes.

The document suggested that State centres should aim to accommodate 5,000 people, and “allowing the private sector to supply the rest is regarded as an achievable and reasonable target”.

The purchase of existing centres from private providers “to immediately boost the State’s footprint in this area should be considered as a priority,” the internal document said.

“Some service providers may be open to this and the market appears to be favourable at present,” it said.

The internal briefing suggested the department could then seek private companies or NGOs to run the centres, which would be a “competitive cost option”.

‘Badly needed’

Ongoing maintenance for centres owned by the State was also “badly needed,” as current pressures on the Office of Public Works (OPW) meant it was not possible “for immediate repairs to be done if required”.

“In exploring the model of more State centres, we need to agree and acquire a capital budget,” the briefing stated.

“State land does not require planning permission for new centres as the Minister has a power under the Acts, whereby the OPW can grant the planning permission and this is usually a three-month process. It is not subject to appeal.”

The document says that State centres “can also have a bigger footprint as it will be a permanent fixture in the locality”. In recent years a number of plans for private providers to open direct provision centres in regional towns have been met with protests from locals and anti-immigration activists.

Mr O’Gorman’s department has sought to reform the direct provision system and is seeking to replace the network of centres with a new system of accommodation and supports by the end of 2024.

New centres

A department spokesman confirmed the State has not bought any new centres since the briefing note was written. The spokesman said under the planned overhaul of direct provision, asylum-seekers who arrived into the country would initially be housed in a number of reception and integration centres.

Asylum-seekers will spend a maximum of four months in the reception centres before moving into housing secured through Approved Housing Bodies.

“These centres will be State-owned and purpose built to provide suitable accommodation for approximately 2,000 people at any one time, to cater for the flow-through of the 3,500 applicants over a 12-month period,” he said.


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IN PICTURES: French daredevil takes hair-raising Seine tightrope walk

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Attached by a strap to a safety lanyard, 27-year-old Nathan Paulin slowly progressed barefoot on a line stretched across the river between the Eiffel Tower and the Chaillot Theatre.

He stopped for a few breaks, sitting or lying on the rope.

Paulin holds an umbrella as he performs, for the second time, on a 70-metre-high slackline spanning 670 metres between the Eiffel Tower and the Theatre National de Chaillot. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

“It wasn’t easy walking 600 metres, concentrating, with everything around, the pressure … but it was still beautiful,” he said after the performance on Saturday.

He said obtaining the necessary authorisations had been a difficulty for him, plus “the stress linked to the audience, the fact that there are a lot of people”.

Photo: (Photo by THOMAS COEX / AFP)

Paulin, holder of several world records, performed the feat to celebrate France’s annual Heritage Day – when people are invited to visit historic buildings and monuments that are usually closed to the public.

He said his motivation was “mainly to do something beautiful and to share it and also to bring a new perspective on heritage, it is to make heritage come alive”.

He had already crossed the River Seine on a tightrope, on Heritage Day in 2017.



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The truth about Ireland’s monster €240bn debt: it wasn’t the banks

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There’s a perception that Ireland’s monster debt – it will be €240 billion by the end of the year, on a per capita basis the third highest in the world, was put there by band of rogue bankers. And that we as a people have been victims of a terrible wrong.

The truth of course is more sticky, more unpalatable than the bar stool narratives we tell ourselves.

Most of the debt – more than €100 billion – arose from a sequence of budget deficits run up in the wake of the 2008 financial crash and linked to then government’s mismanagement of the public finances, a government that we voted into office three times in succession.

The former Fianna Fáil-led administration had spent lavishly in 2000s while using windfall taxes from the property sector to plug the holes in its accounts.

Deficit

When these taxes dried up, the deficit ballooned. At the height of the crisis in 2009 the deficit was €23 billion. That meant the State was spending €23 billion more than it was taking in by way of taxes and other income.

This necessitated borrowing on a grand scale, which went on – to a varying extent – for a decade until the State ran a budget surplus in 2018.

The original cost of bailing out the banks was €64 billion but this has been clawed back to around €40 billion by way of levies, dividends and share selloffs arising out of the State’s ownership of the banks.

It’s a big number, but less than half the bill foisted upon us from budgetary mismanagement, none of which can be clawed back.

On a per capita basis, the State’s debt figure equates to €46,000 for every man, woman and child in the State and €103,300 for every worker.

And the cost of servicing it has cost us €60 billion over the past decade: equivalent to three years of health spending. Make no mistake the State is paying for its boom time folly.

So it behoves us to sit up and listen when the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council (Ifac) sounds a note of caution about the Government’s budgetary strategy, particularly when it claims we’re sailing close to unsustainable debt trajectory.

And not to dismiss the council’s critique, as some do, as an act of fiscal pedantry, far removed from the realpolitik of government.

While the €4.2 billion spending hike earmarked for Budget 2022 is broadly welcomed, the council takes issue with the Government’s medium-term budgetary strategy, which envisages a series of much bigger budget deficits out to 2025 and nearly €19 billion in additional borrowing.

Debt

This will leave the State with a bigger and less manageable debt up the line and therefore more exposed to the next crisis. There was now a one in four chance of the national debt moving on to an unsustainable trajectory in the years ahead, it said.

The council also warned that borrowing and ramping up spending during a strong recovery could “backfire” triggering an acceleration in prices if capacity constraints, most notably in the construction sector, bite.

You would think that as a country with a big debt, the chief threat here is rising interest rates, something that is likely to arise if the current pick-up in inflation proves longer than expected.

Ifac has stress-tested the Irish economy against possible interest rate hikes and growth shocks, finding the latter poses a greater problem.

While a big 2 percentage point shock to the Government’s borrowing costs would add just 0.4 percentage points to the debt ratio in three years it would barely raise annual funding costs. This is largely because the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) bond issuance is long-dated and, in the main, fixed rate.

In contrast a typical growth shock of 3.6 per cent for two years could add over 20 percentage points to the debt ratio in three years. “With high debt ratios to begin with, this could snowball and make it difficult to pull down debt ratios in later years,” it said.

Plan

Two years ago, NTMA chief Conor O’Kelly was asked what the chief financial risks facing the agency were and if it had a Brexit contingency plan.

He said the agency operated on “permanent contingency” basis . As a small, highly-indebted economy, which relies on international investors for 90 per cent of its borrowings, he said Ireland and the NTMA needed to be in a permanent state of crisis readiness.

The reality is that the next shock, the next thing that will hit our funding market, will probably be something that we have not yet thought of and is not on the front page of every newspaper in the world, O’Kelly said. Nine months later, the Covid crisis hit and the global economy fell off a cliff and the NTMA’s borrowing plans were out the window.

This goes to the heart of Ifac’s commentary: it’s not a case of wondering if there will be another recession or if there will be another financial shock, that’s a given, they’re coming on average every 10 years.

Downturns are part of the natural cycle, financial shocks are part of the global economy. The question is, will you be in a position to borrow and spend your way out of it.


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