The quarter-finals of Bake Off had the theme of Danish Week. But oh my goodness, was it full of absolute drama!! The signature challenge was to make a rye bread loaf and use that loaf to make 2 types of smørrebrød (Danish open sandwich). The technical challenge was to make 14 aebleskiver with a cinnamon apple filling, a sort of pancake cooked in a special pan. The showstopper was to make a kagemand or kagekone, a celebration cake constructed using Danish pastries. I decided to tackle the signature challenge and make Kimchi Smørrebrød and Vegetarian Smørrebrød!
Before we get to discussing today’s recipe, I’d like to offer my thoughts about this week’s episode of Bake Off. Like many people, I think the wrong decision was made for BOTH Star Baker and the baker to be eliminated. While Ruby definitely did well this week, especially in the signature, I think Briony was by far the standout baker this week. She came first in that very tricky Technical and her showstopper was brilliant.
And with regards to the elimination, there was a lot of discussion from Paul about things being French and there was really no need – no other baker would have received this sort of criticism. Maybe she made a pain de campagne but it’s still a good rye bread, don’t deny the talent that is there! Rahul came last in the Technical and messed on up on all 3 challenges to a greater extent than Manon and I was surprised he didn’t leave. Yes he’s been a stronger baker this series so far but his rye bread was raw, his aebleskiver were burnt and his Danish pastries were also burnt.
To me, the smørrebrød should combine both style and substance. They must taste delicious while looking visually attractive. It’s really important to think about how the sandwich will look at the end in terms of the layering process, the colours and the finishing touches to make the smørrebrød look amazing – and then there’s the sandwich toppings to worry about too! I took inspiration from the Scandinavian tradition of pickling and fermenting foods for my sandwich toppings. For both of the smørrebrød, I make a quick pickle of red onion and radish which can be made in just 20 minutes!
One of the smørrebrød has an Asian twist using the national food of Korea, kimchi, to make a tasty and different topping. The spice of the kimchi cuts through the dense earthiness of the rye bread and packs a punch with flavour! I use a spread of kimchi mayo which is made simply by mixing together mayonnaise with some kimchi juice. I top the sandwich with some potatoes fried in the same pan as the pork for added texture.
The vegetarian smørrebrød remains ‘traditional’ to the region with just simply a layer of seasoned cream cheese, a layer of crunchy cucumber and cubes of cooked beetroot and the pickled radish and red onion. While simple, it feels very classic and actually works really well the kimchi pork smørrebrød as the pickles and cooling cucumber and cream cheese work with the spicy kimchi.
6 slices of sliced wholegrain seeded rye bread – feel free to make your own
For the pickled vegetables:
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp granulated sugar
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
For the kimchi pork smørrebrød:
2 pork loin steaks (about 250g)
50g kimchi, chopped into pieces
25g cucumber, finely diced and without seeds
25g carrot, finely diced
2 baby potatoes, sliced into 15 rings
For the kimchi mayo:
1 tbsp kimchi juice
For the vegetarian smørrebrød:
30g cream cheese
1 tsp lemon juice
30 slices of cucumber
1 cooked beetroot, finely diced
First prepare the quick pickled vegetables. Place the thinly sliced radish and red onion into a small bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and red wine vinegar with a pinch of salt. Pour over the vegetables, mixing briefly. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate until required.
Next boil the potato slices until cooked through. Drain on a sheet of kitchen paper and leave to cool.
Meanwhile prepare the spreads. In one bowl, mix together the mayonnaise with the kimchi juice until it is an even pink-ish colour. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until softened, adding the lemon juice and some salt and pepper to taste. Set both of the spreads aside.
Lastly cook the kimchi pork. Chop the pork loin steaks into thin strips, trimming off any large pieces of fat from the steak. Over a medium heat, fry the pork loin until it is browned and cooked through. Add in the finely chopped cucumber and carrot and the chopped kimchi and cook for a further 2 minutes to heat up the kimchi until the mixture is all even. Place the stir-fried pork into a bowl. Drizzle a tiny amount of oil into the same frying pan and pan-fry the potato slices until slightly crisp at the edges. Drain off any excess oil on kitchen paper.
To assemble the kimchi pork smørrebrød, spread some kimchi mayo on 3 slices of the rye bread. Divide the kimchi pork between the 3 sandwiches. Arrange a straight line consisting of 5 slices of potato down the centre of the sandwich. Top with a few slices of the pickled red onion and thin julienne of spring onions.
To assemble the vegetarian smørrebrød, spread some of the cream cheese on the remaining 3 slices of the rye bread. Arrange 10 slices of cucumber on each slice of bread in 2 columns of 5 overlapping slices. Using a pair of chopsticks or tweezers, arrange the diced beetroot and picked vegetables on top of the cucumber layer, creating variations in layers, colour and textures. Finish with a crack of black pepper and serve.
- Biscuit Week: Wagon Wheels (without gelatine)
- Cake Week: Hazelnut and Coffee Traybake
- Bread Week: Flapjack Chelsea Buns
- Dessert Week: White Chocolate and Black Sesame Biscuits
- Spice Week: Upside Down Apple Gingerbread Loaf Cake
- Pastry Week: Pork and Vegetable Samosas with Creamy Cucumber Dip
- Vegan Week: Vegan Chocolate Praline Layer Cake