These Bakeries in Copenhagen Have Culinary Pedigrees Rooted in the World's Best Kitchens

Copenhagen isn't new to baked goods. On the contrary, the Danes have been eating dark rye and weinerbrød since the Viking Age.

Photo: Soren Hald/Getty Images

It's a drizzly morning in Copenhagen but the rain hasn't deterred people from forming a line outside of Juno the Bakery for kardemomme snurre (cardamom buns). Made from fragrant yeasted dough rolled with ground black cardamom and organic butter, the kardemomme snurre are worth waiting for. Once inside the homey, narrow space, customers huddle over the pastry-laden glass cabinet and select their morning treats. Some shoppers scarf them down immediately, while others take brown paper bags bursting with buns or croissants to go. Juno the Bakery in Copenhagen's Osterbro neighborhood draws a regular crowd but still feels like a local joint. This was precisely what Emil Glaser, a former chef at Noma, had in mind when he opened the bakery in 2017.

"We knew we wanted to create something that gave value to our local neighborhood. A bakery felt like a great place to start, so we just jumped straight in," said Glaser. He wasn't the only chef-turned-baker to unveil a neighborhood spot stocking baked goods. Since then, the city has seen a significant rise in chef-owned and -operated bakeries.

Copenhagen isn't new to baked goods. On the contrary, the Danes have been eating dark rye and weinerbrød pretty much since the Viking Age. In Denmark, almost every morning begins with a slice of sourdough topped with butter, jam, and cheese, or (on weekends) a spandauer (a pastry with vanilla cream). With bread and pastries being an integral part of the food culture, it was only a matter of time before the city welcomed a slew of artisanal bakeries.

"We believe people are starting to crave better sourdough bread — fully organic, naturally leavened, no crap," said Jesper Gøtz, a former sous chef at Copenhagen's now-closed Restaurant 108. Along with his co-workers Mia Boland and Sara Macedo, Gøtz opened Lille Bakery in a warehouse space on Refshaeløen island near the outskirts of Copenhagen (close to Noma) in 2018. "We decided to open a place where we would all like to spend time and that would also bring something positive to the community," said Gøtz.

Inside the lofty glass-fronted bakery, long wooden tables evoke a cozy communal feel. Locals roll in on their bikes and grab loaves of bread to go or stop for a cup of coffee and a warm slice of sourdough. On the menu, there's everything from rye bread to sourdough buns to sausage rolls. They also have more substantial meals like salted cod and tomato and stracciatella (which come with bread) but a firm favorite is the Lille Alice, a donut (without a hole) dusted with pink sugar and topped with a dollop of strawberry jam and milk cream, which tastes as good as it looks on Instagram.

On the other side of Copenhagen in the Nørrebro district, chef Christian Puglisi opened Mirabelle, a restaurant and bakery that begins the day with pastries and ends it with pasta. Puglisi became passionate about baking when he opened his now-closed Michelin-starred restaurant, Relæ, in 2010. "Bread has a very special position in the meal," he said. "Delivering a very high level of sourdough bread was a simple and basic way of setting the tone and quality of the dining experience at Relæ."

It's common to receive a basket of freshly baked bread before or with a meal in Copenhagen, even at a Michelin-starred restaurant. In 2014, when Puglisi opened Mirabelle, he began focusing on the bakery's signature sourdough made from organic Øland wheat, grown and milled just 18 miles away at the bakery at Kornby Mølle. The bread is mixed and strengthened by hand, and naturally fermented for 24 hours before going into the oven for a long time at a high temperature. It's certainly not a simple process but Puglisi is a stickler for quality. "Supermarkets and gas stations have successfully marketed bake-off breads produced in factories, which are sold at ridiculous prices," he said. "They are impossible to compete with. It seems like the general standard is getting very polarized — very good in the high end, and really bad in the rest."

Andersen & Maillard, a bakery and roastery not far from Mirabelle, is undoubtedly one of the "very good" ones. Opened by former Noma and Amass pastry chef Milton Abel with barista Hans Kristian Andersen in 2018, the café serves excellent coffee alongside baked goods. Abel said he strongly believes that all these bakeries are building a community rather than competing against each other. "The special thing about Copenhagen is the collaborative relationship that all the new bakeries have with each other," he said. "We are all moving our industry forward by continuing to produce [products] every day. We all share info and tips, and talk about what we are planning to do in the future."

Andersen & Maillard is the kind of bakery you could spend all day in, hunched over a laptop at one of the slick wooden tables, drinking countless coffees, and eating the signature kouign amanns (a crispy, buttery pastry that looks like a croissant that has been baked in a muffin tin).

Hart Bageri, created by the former head pastry chef at San Francisco's Tartine, Richard Hart, and Noma co-founder René Redzepi, is another beloved bakery. Like many other chef-turned-bakers, Hart cooked for over a decade before he discovered his love for baking. As a transplant (although he has spent much of his life in San Francisco, he's originally from London), one of Hart's biggest priorities after moving to Copenhagen was making bread and pastries in tune with Danish tastes. "René [Redzepi] said to me, 'you need to capture the Danes with the rye bread,'" said Hart. "People in Denmark seem to like sour tastes a lot more, so I created a miso rye, which is really umami and tastes sort of like rye bread on steroids."

The menu is ever-changing but the bakery also produces Danish favorites like tebirkes (a laminated pastry with a poppy seed crust) and spandauers. "We are looking at what Danes want and then making the best versions of them," said Hart."Working as a chef, you are constantly on the go. As a baker, you're not. Once you start making bread, you get this crazy obsession."

Emil Glaser of Juno the Bakery agreed. "The fact that most of us opened [bakeries] within a year [of one another] is more of a coincidence. I guess many of us felt we had something to contribute to a city that's already full of so much good food," he said.

It's no secret that Copenhagen is home to some of the world's leading restaurants. Fortunately, with a wealth of bakeries to match, you don't have to wait until dinner to enjoy a perfect slice of sourdough.

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