The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Danish Tebirkes

hanseata's picture

Danish Tebirkes

Today I revisited my childhood. For the first time I baked Danish Tebirkes.
For many years my grandmother, aunt, two cousins and I would spend our summer holidays in Denmark. Every morning
one of us kids would bike to the grocery store to pick up freshly baked rolls for breakfast. My favorite were Tebirkes, buttery, croissant-like rolls, sprinkled with poppy seeds.


dmsnyder's picture

You show us those beautiful rolls with the tempting description ... and no recipe?

Recipe! ... Please?


SylviaH's picture

I would love to see the crumb...yes how about a recipe ; ) for these beauties.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven


cmf's picture


hanseata's picture

I always had these Danish rolls in my memory, and when I started selling my breads 2 years ago, I searched the internet for more breads from other European countries (no shortage of German bread recipes). I was very happy when I found this Tebirke recipe, but didn't do anything about it because, at that time, it seemed too time consuming to bake them for the store.

After reading the "Artisan Breads Every Day" croissant recipe I wanted to give the Tebirkes a try. The original recipe, as most of the stuff you find around, is for same day baking. So I adapted it to overnight refrigeration. In the original recipe half of the butter is in the dough, and half used as a layer in between. I tried to make a butter block with it (a little flour added), but the layer was too thin, and I ended up with just smearing it with a spatula over the rolled out dough (as the recipe author described it, too).

Everything worked just fine, and the Tebirkes taste wonderful, but they have no distinct layer (see photo of crumb), as I'm sure they should have. Question: should some butter of the dough go into the butter block instead? Should the butter block be smaller (therefore thicker) and placed on the not yet to full size rolled out dough?

This is the recipe:

TEBIRKES (14 - 16 rolls)

540 g bread or AP flour (I used bread flour) and 5 g extra for butter layer

 10 g salt

 12 g sugar (1 tbsp)

  8 g instant yeast

240 ml milk, cold

120 g water, cool (65 F/18 C)

   1 egg

226 g butter, divided (1 stick melted and cooled for detrempe, 1 stick cold for butter layer)

1 egg white + 1 tbsp water for brushing

2 tbsp. poppy seeds for topping


Whisk together flour, salt, sugar and instant yeast to combine.

Pour in milk and water, add egg, and then 113 g/1 stick melted butter. Mix on lowest speed (paddle attachment) for 1 min, then on medium-high for 10 -15 sec more.

Turn dough out onto a floured workspace, gather to a ball (with floured hands), and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Mist with spray oil, cover and refrigerate overnight.


Roll out dough on a floured work surface to a 40 x 40 cm  (16 x 16 inch) square.  (The original recipe says: spread 113 g butter over half of the dough, leaving a 1 cm rim, I tried to do a butterblock between two layers of parchment paper, but it was too thin and I had to spread with spatula).

Fold unbuttered half of dough over buttered half, press down to make it stick. Then fold dough once again from the long side. (The result should be a approx. 50 cm x 10 cm (20" x 4") piece of dough.

Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 F/205 C.

Divide dough block in the middle in halves. Brush top with egg white wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cut each dough half in 7 - 8 triangles (I found a sharp chef's knife worked better than my bench scraper - dough is sticky).

Transfer triangles to sheet pans. Mist with spray oil, cover and let rise at room temperature for 30 - 40 min, until they have grown to nearly double their original size.

Bake for 15 - 20 min (I used convection, so I could do both sheets at the same time, rotating sheets after 9 min and baking for another 9 min).

This was the result - wonderful taste, but should the crumb look different?




Dover's picture

Hi Hanseata

Looks wonderfull!

Judging from the lack of Remonce i assume your vacations was spend in Jutland :)

In the eastern parts of DK, Remonce (a mixture or Marcipan, butter and sugar) is often added as a layer in the middle. That way the tebirkes opens up, creating a cavity in the middle

the crumb texture imho should be more layered and flaky, i have no suggestions on how to acheive this, sorry, not that skilled a baker yet :)

Here is a link to a recepie, of course in Danish, but if you are interested i will be happy to translate it for you. I haven't tried it myself yet, but judging from the picture it is more flaky and layered.

Happy baking


Jessica Weissman's picture
Jessica Weissman

These remind me of the wonderful rolls I ate in Aarhus when I spent six months working there in 1983.  My office would take any excuse to have rolls and butter at the morning coffee hour.  And Gammeldansk, for those who liked that.

Anyway, is there a source for other types of Danish roll recipes?  I remember some that didn't have a butter layer, but were beautiful with a fine crust and a soft open interior.

Thanks for bringing back my Danish memories.

-  jessica

hanseata's picture

Thanks for your comment, Dover. I would love to try those sweet Tebirkes - I can translate the ingredients, but the preparation part is above my limited abilities.

Yes, I spent six wonderful summers with my family in Blaavand at the North Sea side, swimming, jumping off half buried bunkers, finding amber amid algae on the beach, picking lots of chanterelles (sadly missed), buying strawberries and raspberries from the farmers and eating them with Ymer (sadly missed). The Tebirkes we had for breakfast were not sweet, but I remember I had sometimes sweet ones, too.

I definitely would appreciate a translation of the recipe in your link,


LuLu B's picture
LuLu B



Jazzdad's picture

My German/Hungarian Grandmother used to make a coffee cake she called mungalachen it was quite a treat I've always had a love for baked goods with poppyseeds in them I never found her recipe for it and I'm not even sure of the spelling it sure would be a treat to revisit my youth if someone can recall a recipe they may have run across that seems similar. Until then I'll have to give these a try they look awfully good!

hanseata's picture

Pastries with poppyseeds are quite popular in Germany, especially in the Eastern part. I can post some - especially good is Mohnstollen (poppyseed stollen), I made one last Christmas, it was wonderful.

If you could describe the pastry your grandmother baked with more detail, perhaps I could find something about it - the name doesn't seem familiar.


hansjoakim's picture

Great looking tebirkes, Karin!

It's been years since I last had proper tebirkes... I've never made them myself, so your post definitely motivates me to give them a try. Google gives a whole bunch of different recipes; common among them is that some butter (or margarine...eeew... stick with butter) is rolled in. Many of them suggest spreading softened butter over part of the sheeted dough while others call for a firm butter block, as used in croissants or other laminated viennoiserie. A firm butter block will give you that flaky end result (i.e. distinct layers of dough and butter that you have in croissants. Softened butter will tend to "weep" between layers of dough, reducing the flakiness). Here's a recipe by Jan Hedh (yeah, he's Swedish, but I believe from the southern part of Sweden, so he probably know his way around tebirkes too...) which looks particularly good.

hanseata's picture

That was what I was wondering - having less butter in the dough and more in the butter layer to form a real butter block.

The funny thing about your recipe is that it's the same woman, Petra Holzapfel, who translated both recipes, mine from a Danish cookbook and yours from Jan Hedh's book. So there are quite obviously several different versions, also the sweet variety with marzipan. I will definitely try the Hedh one and Dover's sweet version, too. 

No matter what, taste rules, and my Tebirkes are a good beginning - if they can be improved, all the better.


Daisy_A's picture

Hi Karin, Hi Hans Joakim,

I have to say I am have been enjoying 'guesting' on this thread, mostly to gaze at these delicious pastries! I've not made them so can't offer any suggestions on method. However I would just like to second Hans Joakim's recommendation of Hedh in general. I am just starting baking some recipes from the English translation of his book on Artisan Bread and they are turning out to be really inspired and reliable.

Looks llke a great start on baking the tebirkes - hope the development continues well!

Kind regards, Daisy_A

Jazzdad's picture

In my earlier comment I made mention of my Hungarian/German grandmothers poppyseed cake, well I went looking and this is the closest looking pastry I could come up with the name doesn't seem the same however the cake looks very similar

hanseata's picture

Jazzdad, I went to your link and from there to German websites - lots of Hungarian poppyseed roll recipes out there. The traditional Hungarian one is called Makos beigli (I don't know how that is pronounced) and the Croatian version Makovnjaca - and, guess what, my German Mohnstollen is pretty much the same thing! This pastry is traditionally made around Christmas, but many people eat it year round.



Dover's picture

Hi Hanseata

Looking closely at the recepie i think the one HansJoakim suggested looks far more delicious and more likely to yield the result you are looking for :)


But here goes, no guarantees given:

1 decilitre milk

25 g yeast

50 g butter

1 egg

250 g flour (AP)

1 pinch of salt

2 tbls sugar

egg wash

Blue poppy seeds



100 grams grated marzipan

1 egg white


Warm up the milk and stir in the yeast.

Ad the melted butter, egg, salt and sugar.

Ad flour and knead thoroughly.

Rise for 1 hour.


Whisk together the egg white and marzipan


Deflate the dough and roll out.Fold into three layers and roll out again, repeat a couple of times.

The last roll out, add the “remonce” before folding into a elongated rectangle and slice into 12 tebirkes.

Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Rise for 15 mins and bake in a preheated oven for 10 min. at 225 degrees.


hanseata's picture

The difference is: these Tebirkes are sweet and therefore stand on their own. I remember having had sweet ones as a child too, and they were great. It's like with plain croissants and chocolate croissants, both taste wonderful. I'll try both of them out.

In North Germany there's a croissant-like sweet cinnamon roll, too, "Kieler", which is also very tasty. I should dig out my recipe again.



Mike_L's picture

I was under the impression that Tebirkes are the ones with lots of butter in between while koebenhavnerbirkes ('Copenhagen birkes' loosely translated) are the ones with lots of sweet stuff.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I'm right as I'm a baker in Denmark :)

hanseata's picture

Thanks for your information! As a child I didn't even know what these rolls were called, I found the original recipe in the internet.

So please, can you give some expert opinion regarding the question "spreaded butter layer" versus "butter block". Is the former option more for the average housewife and the second for professionals? Or are those just two different ways that are both valid?



Mike_L's picture

I'll give it a go hanseata.


When you use spread butter you use a brush. You make sure the butter is melted and then 'paint' it on. The blocks are far bigger. It's slices of butter. You simply cut (say ½ centimeter) and place the block next to each other.

I don't think one is more used by housewifes than the other. Needless to say the dough with the blocks is incredible fat compared to the one where you only use a brush to paint the butter on.

Tebirkes looks like this (here's another pictures).

The other one I mentioned is made the same way but goes by the name of the capital in Denmark, Copenhagen = Copenhagen Birkes or as in danish 'koebenhavnerbirkes'. it is incredible sweet. It's full of marzipan, sugar and other nasty things they can ruin perfectly good bread with.


I hope i was able to she some light on a complicated piece of wonderful bread you won't find anywhere else. You'll get addicted to it.

hanseata's picture

Highly addictive! The ones I made (with the butter layer) taste wonderful and are easy to freeze, too. I didn't know, though, that the butter should be melted and brushed on the dough, I used a spatula to spread it.

I also rather have a roll without sweet filling, so that I can eat it with jam or cheese - or freshly baked leverpostej (just kidding, I wish I could get that here).


hansjoakim's picture

Hei Mike!

Ved hvilket bakeri jobber du?

For the tebirkes where you simply brush melted butter on the rolled out dough: How much butter do you use? Just enough to cover the dough? I'm guessing this is done to prevent dough layers to merge together when you roll up the dough? The recipe from Jan Hedh, which I referenced above, is very similar to an ordinary croissant dough (i.e. a small amount of soft butter in the dough itself, and then a substantial cold butter block rolled in). Do you mix more softened butter into the dough if you brush melted butter over the rolled out dough instead?

Which ones do you prefer? Painted or butter-blocked?

hanseata's picture

Mike, in my recipe the dough is folded only twice. I saw on your photos more layers. How often do you fold the dough?



Mike_L's picture

Hansjoakim; None at the moment. Thinking about going solo or making something serious on the internet. Not sure yet.

It's hard to say how much butter I use. I suggest that you're generous with it so the dough gets greasy. The problem with Tebirkes is that there are as many opinions on how to make them as there are people. As you can see here some almost turn it into science. I'll see if I can find the best recipe for Tebirkes and translate it into english.


Hanseata, a spatula is just as good. I just like the feeling when you brush the butter on. I like to be 100% sure that the dough is fully covered with butter.

I made this piece of graphics below to explain (so I don't make terrible mistakes with my poor english).


Roll out the dough so it looks something like this.

Brush your butt on (or use the slices if you wish).

Fold (1) over (2). Then fold (3) over (2). Now you have 3 layers.

Cut fairly wide pieces of the dough and flip them 180 degrees so it can't slide open while it's in the oven. The reason why you cut fairly wide pieces is because the dough really likes to slide left or right and you don't want that. You want the layers to stay on top of each other.

I personally brush them with eggs before baking them and then of course use birkes (I believe birkes is called poppy seeds in english)

hanseata's picture

Thanks, Mike - I read that "Pleiotropy" website, too, amazing what people can come up with, or ponder over, or make a problem out of...the scientific question of "if it's established that a white poppyseed topping is the original, is it a sacrilege to use black poppyseeds"?

So you would brush the butter over all of the rolled out dough, except for the rims (in my recipe it was only over half of the dough)? Makes perfect sense to me.

I also noticed that when I cut the dough (as required in my recipe) into triangles, the narrow sides would slide and splt open.