Jen: Copenhagen Pastry creates some of the finest baked goods in Los Angeles—their recipes boast a delicate, light dough with subtle but satisfying flavors. This contemporary bake shop truly brings a slice of Copenhagen to Culver City, as the proprietors, owner Karen Hansen and consultant Henrik Gram, are both of Danish heritage. I am not a fan of the classic Danish marzipan. I find the texture strange and sandy, the taste cloyingly sweet and artificial—possibly because most marzipan recipes don’t have actual almonds, but instead use almond extract? But, there are several items without the ubiquitous almond paste, specifically the Water Kringle (blandly renamed the “Cinnamon Braid,” because customers continually asked what a kringle was, doh!), apple pastry and Napoleon’s Hat (sigh, also renamed, now the Nougat Crown). My favorite is the Water Kringle/Cinnamon Braid—the quality is just absolutely top notch. It doesn’t rely on any fancy relishes, just simple dough with a dash of cinnamon and the lightest touch of frosting. If you are looking for something a bit more potent, the Raspberry Macaroon (so named for its meringue center, other than that it has nothing to do with french macarons or coconut macaroons) will hit the sweet spot with it’s flaky, buttery pastry with raspberry preserves and a chewy egg white meringue topping.
Now for some hot out of the oven industry gossip: Consultant pastry chef Henrik Gram originally had a post at Hygge Bakery, the only other authentic Danish bakery in Los Angeles I’m aware of. I first heard about Hygge from my friend Caitlin, who lives upstairs from the downtown bakery and never went without her daily dose of danish. Her birthday cake two years ago was from Hygge—a giant, white domed, delicious oddity, called a “goose breast.” I don’t know how authentic Hygge remains, now that Gram left in a huff over management issues and offering his talents to Copenhagen instead. The silver lining in this bakery blowout: I now live within walking distance of Water Kringles and Napoleon’s Hats.
David: well, they don’t make a cheese danish. apparently real danish doesn’t have cheese. whatever. and the coffee is nothing special. the pastries i have eaten there have all been good, but aren’t most fresh pastries? there were limited choices so this is a limited review. i’d rather have a buttery croissant or a bagel and cream cheese with a coffee in an establishment that has somewhere to sit (we eat our danish at a picnic table in an adjacent park) and maybe a danish with cheese filling on the menu. if you are looking for a no cheese allowed pastry take-out spot then it’s perfect!