Smørrebrød for lunch

March 30th, 2011

I’ll be honest, Juli and I have really been missing Scandinavia. It’s getting warmer and brighter outside, and we are a bit too quick to start dressing like it’s summer. I think we are already in summer mode, and when we think of summer we can’t help but think of Scandinavia.

This week I needed to get my fix somehow and what I really wanted to have is that quintessential Danish lunch. If you have visited Scandinavia you know that lunch is king, and there is nothing more enjoyable than sitting outside, beer in hand, eating a Smørrebrød with toppings piled high.

I was feeling a bit ambitious this week, and my craving for a traditional Smørrebrød became unbearable. It was going to take 2 days to complete the final result, and it all started by making a loaf of Danish dark rye bread or Rugbrød.

Now there are many different ways of making Rugbrød, but the recipe I found contained beer and buttermilk, which sounded delicious. Bonus: we were able to use up the buttermilk to makes some amazing pancakes this morning. That’s right, we’re working our fridge like it’s 1940.

You can follow the recipe here.

This was the first time I’ve made Rugbrød and not knowing how thick bread can be I thought I would be able to easily mix everything by hand. I ultimately triumphed but it was exhausting – I started at 3, and the loaf was finally finished baking at 6:30. I put our roast in the oven to have for dinner, and saved some nice thin pieces for our Smørrebrød lunch the next day.

A Smørrebrød can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. The beef version is just at the end of its season, whereas in spring the most popular dish usually contains small shrimp, dill, and lemon because the shrimp are harvested at this time. This is a beef Smørrebrød with butter, a bed of spinach, fried onions, chives, pickles, and of course fresh horse radish. More traditional versions may also include liver paste and meat jelly, but this recipe was good because it used ingredients readily available at the local grocer.

Today we had a proper Scandinavian lunch, with table cloth and all!

We also had some beer – such a novelty for us during the work day! This “Lava” beer comes from Iceland. Kevin Kelly, a new friend of the store has been importing Icelandic beers and they are now available at the LCBO. He dropped off a few bottles for us to try!

I used the dark “Lava” beer to make my bread so it complimented our lunch perfectly. There is also another beer called Skjalfti that I’m recommending everyone try this summer as it’s much lighter than the lava and would be great with a lime wedge.

Now there is no shame eating your Smørrebrød with a knife and fork. It is actually preferable to stack so many toppings that the dark rye bread cannot be seen, unfortunately from this angle it looks as if I was a bit skimpy, but trust me this guy was big!

Bon appetit!

Filed under: General | 26 comments

26 Responses to 'Smørrebrød for lunch'

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  1. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm


    30 Mar 11 at 6:59 pm

  2. That looks amazing! When I saw the first photo I really thought it was restaurant food, with the pretty tablecloth and all.


    30 Mar 11 at 9:27 pm

  3. Mmm. Doesn’t look like real traditional Danish smørrebrød – but better with all the green colors! My favorite part about smørrebrød is the rugbrød. You should taste some with a lots of grains that has just came out the oven. That is a little slice of heaven(even though is is mostly scandinavian that actually likes it).


    31 Mar 11 at 2:13 am

  4. Haha awesome lunch! I love making bread, we make if from scratch now instead of in the breadmaker, and it gets much easier with practice! Ask Jory ; )


    31 Mar 11 at 8:07 am

  5. Anni – I still haven’t gotten down that smørrebrød look, I think I need to get a deep fryer so I can make those crispy onions, that crunch factor is crucial. I got the recipe for this beef version from this website:

    If you have any recommendations on other tasty versions to try I still have half a loaf of rugbrød left!

    John & Juli

    31 Mar 11 at 9:59 am

  6. I love your article on smørrebrød. I, too, am a big fan and have been writing recipes about the many different types of ingredients needed to make your own traditional Danish smørrebrød.

    I agree that the foundation for these sandwiches is the Rye bread. If you are interested in a very authentic Danish rye bread recipe (with sour dough, beer and malt), you can find it at my blog here:

    This recipe is from the same blog as you referenced in the previous post (glad you found it!). I hope you find this helpful. If you need any specific help or advice, let me know. I make rugbrød regularly and enjoy sharing my experience.

    I travel to Toronto from time-to-time and look forward to visiting Mjolk in the near future!



    1 Apr 11 at 11:58 am

  7. Dear Marcus, thanks for sending me the link to your website! I can’t wait to make another loaf of smørrebrød and try more of your recipes!

    John & Juli

    2 Apr 11 at 4:47 pm

  8. Dear John & Juli, It is my pleasure. I am delighted that you followed the recipe! Please check back from time to time, as I try to post a new recipe each week. This week the topic is medisterpolse with agurkesalat. Hope you enjoy!


    2 Apr 11 at 5:39 pm

  9. Ahhh, making my hungry at 9 in the morning on Sunday!!!


    3 Apr 11 at 8:25 am

  10. Why are you guys trying so hard to be scando? I am confused- selling furniture etc is one thing but the way you worship the culture is odd…


    3 Apr 11 at 8:49 am

  11. Fredrik: We don’t worship Scandinavia, the blog is very much a filter for Scandinavian design content, so it probably seems like there is a lot of it. We are both Canadian, our parents are Canadian and their parents are Canadian. We really don’t have a “Motherland” so we enjoy traveling to different places trying lots of different foods and taking in many cultures. I’m not sure if you are Canadian but there are many parallels between Canada and Scandinavia, the landscape is very similar, we both share dark winters, and we have some of the highest populations of Scandinavians outside of Scandinavia. Plus many of us grew up with Scandinavian design around the house.

    Scandinavia has come into pop culture in a big way, between IKEA, Volvo, and H&M it is in the public consciousness and it is something you will have to get used to, especially in regards to cuisine. Since NOMA won best restaurant last year and we can’t even get the cookbook in the shop because the print run is sold out, people are interested.

    Also please note that we talk about Japan just as much as Scandinavia. Where were you when we were writing about our 2 week trip through Hokkaido?

    John & Juli

    3 Apr 11 at 5:12 pm

  12. Looks delicious! I was wondering how the bread making was going after reading about it on Twitter!


    3 Apr 11 at 10:33 am

  13. Yum! that looks like the perfect piece of scandinavian bread. It’s no joke baking, but for every time you bake it will be faster and easier.

    Here is my favorite recipe for Norwegian Kneipbrød. (This is not a sour bread). I love putting Kalles Kaviar that I get at Ikea on this with slices of hardboiled egg. Or just Jarlsberg cheese with a thin slice of red bell pepper on top. Or scrambled eggs made with chives.

    750 g whole wheat coarse (7 cups)
    750 g whole wheat fine (7 cups)
    1 tablespoon flour
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 liter of lukewarm water (4,2 cups)
    50 g yeast (1 packet yeast) I guess this is where you can use beer instead but I don’t know how much.

    Dissolve yeast in a little of the lukewarm water. (make sure the water is exactly not to hot, nor too cold as this can cause the yeast to not rise the bread. Take a drops and feel on the inside of your wrist if the temperature is slightly higher than your body temperature, then it’s perfect.
    Add the oil.
    Mix the two flour varieties of salt.
    Add a little of the liquid and make a thin batter in the middle of the flour until the yeast and the rest of the liquid is added.
    Work the dough well. It will be tough and nice.
    Cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and set it to rise in a warm place with no draft for about 30 minutes. (I put the bowl on top of the dryer in my laundry room and dry some towels at the same time to get a high room temperature), about 45 minutes.
    Put the dough onto the floured surface. Divide it in three subjects formed into oblong loaf or have the dough into 3 forms, each 1 1/2 liter.
    Cover loaves and let rise.
    Bake loaves at the bottom of the oven at 392F for about 1 hour. The breads can be cooked on the baking sheet or in the forms.

    Sorry for the long comment. Hope you feel like trying this bread.

    Happy Sunday!


    3 Apr 11 at 3:58 pm

  14. Sana: Thank you for taking the time to share your recipe! We will have to try it sometime soon and let you know how it goes :)

    John & Juli

    3 Apr 11 at 5:14 pm

  15. John & Juli: I ? your response to Fredrik.

    julia edna

    3 Apr 11 at 5:41 pm

  16. heart key instead of ?

    julia edna

    3 Apr 11 at 5:41 pm

  17. People are so weird. How dare you write about a subject that interests you! It amazes me what people choose to get upset about.

    miss crowland

    3 Apr 11 at 6:03 pm

  18. Greetings from Reykjavik! I’m glad you got to taste Lava! Next time, try Jökull or Freyja :-)


    5 Apr 11 at 6:58 pm

  19. I miss denmark. This looks delicious. What are those glasses though, they look beautiful!


    6 Apr 11 at 6:12 am

  20. Erik – Those glasses are called the Sakurasaku glasses because the condensation leaves a little cherry blossom on your table!

    John & Juli

    6 Apr 11 at 9:28 am

  21. hi john/juli,
    LOVE your tablecloth. i have been looking for something like that. we have a round table as well. where can i find in toronto?


    8 Apr 11 at 1:01 pm

  22. Melissa – Funny enough, this particular table cloth was found in a drawer at the cottage…I have no idea where it is from. We do sometimes carry navy gingham table cloths from Fog Linen, if you are interested you should shoot us an email.

    John & Juli

    11 Apr 11 at 2:33 pm

  23. which lcbo carries such delicious icelandic treats?


    11 Apr 11 at 5:57 pm

  24. Jonathan – we’re not sure…I’d say definitely the one at Summerhill, but it’s best to just call (sorry you’re comment was stuck in spam).

    John & Juli

    19 Apr 11 at 10:58 am

  25. Great looking smørrebrød. I live om Roncevalles and you can get a type of bread which is exactly like Kohlberg’s kernegodt rugbrød in the Polish markets. I used to be the chef of Nyhavns Færgekro in Copenhagen, so if you ever want to do another smørrebrød day, let me know!


    25 Apr 11 at 2:51 pm

  26. Dear Steve, I would love to have another Smorrebrod day, I think I could do a much better job next time around. Have you been in our shop Mjolk in the Junction? We’re leaving for Scandinavia next Monday but if you could stop by before then it would be great to meet you.

    John & Juli

    25 Apr 11 at 3:25 pm

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