When I think of Danish pastries, I of a puff pastry with some sort of fruit centre. It wasn’t until I visited The Solvang Bakery in Solvang, California, a Danish pastry shop, that I realised there really is so much variety in Danish pastries!
The Solvang Bakery
The Solvang Bakery is reputed to be the best Danish bakery in the town of prides itself on its Danish heritage. Established by Danish immigrants in the early 20th century, Solvang takes everything Danish very seriously.
The Solvang Bakery has the pretzel sign in front of its store which is called a kringle. The kringle sign is centuries-old symbol signifying membership in the Danish bakers’ guilds. The bakeries in Denmark are allowed to have a crown over their kringles.
The interior is shabby chic with little tables if you are staying to eat in the store. There’s lots of merchandise for you to purchase on display. It’s all cutesy and geared towards an easy souvenir for tourists to take away.
I was flabbergasted by the dizzying array of pastry options. In my experience, my choices of Danish pastries usually involved deciding between apricot and berry. Who knew they came in different sizes, shapes and fillings?! We didn’t know what to choose so we chose a variety of different pastries. When in doubt, overeat.
There’s a charming sheltered patio area in the back where you can sit and enjoy your pastry. It leads directly out to the parking lot as well so you won’t have to waddle to far post-pastry.
History of the Danish Pastry
The story goes that the Danish pastry was invented because of a Danish bakers’ strike in 1850. The Danish were resourceful though in the face of industrial action and simply imported Viennese bakers from Austria. Austrians, as I have mentioned before in this blog, have a tradition of baking wonderful cakes and sweet treats. The Austrians (and the French) had learned the art of baking dough in folds from the Ottoman Empire. This form of pastry is not only delicious but has a long cultural history!
When the striking Danish bakers got back to work, they merged some of their techniques with that of the Viennese bakers. The Danish pastry as we know it was born! In Danish, the generic name for this type of pastry is called wienerbrød or “Viennese bread” in reference to its historical origins.
In the US, Danish immigrants brought the Danish pastry to their new homeland. In the early twentieth century, a Danish immigrant baker called Klitting made a Danish pastry for President Wilson. Eventually Klitting’s pastry caught the attention of a New York restaurateur who started selling them in his restaurants. The danishes were an immediate success.
Visiting The Solvang Bakery
The Solvang Bakery is located at 438 Alisal Road in Solvang California. It is pretty much at the end of the main shopping strip (Copenhagen Drive) of the town. There is ample parking behind the Bakery. Also, if you park here, you can combine a trip to the Solvang Bakery with a visit to the Santa Ines Mission which is on the other side of the parking lot.
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