Danish pastries in Danish is called ”wienerbrød” and we are apparently so famous for it that internationally it is simply called a ”Danish”. Ironically, Wienerbrød means Viennese Bread, so I guess we are passing along the baton. Now back to the terminology ”a Danish”. For a Dane this is however a bit confusing, because there are several types of Danish pastry so simply calling it a Danish is somewhat misleading – is it a spandauer, is it a Chokoladebolle, is a Snegl (snail) or is it a kringle ? Now that the confusion is complete with all these names, then let’s move on to which ones are the best ones to get (in my super subjective opinion).
Firstly what is a Danish Pastry and what is a good one.
A Danish pastry is in my world a piece of pastry that is made with lots of thin layers of pastry – full of butter. The international versions of Danish pastry use a variety of cheaper fats, but butter is the only way to make Danish pastry. A pastry should be light and fluffy, yet still have some bite to it. It should not be greasy but light and crunchy. And it should never be wrapped in plastic or some sort of vacuum. A good pastry comes directly from the baker and there is only three ways to transport it from the bakery: In a box, in a paper bag or in your mouth because it is so yummy that you couldn’t wait.
Danish Pastries: Which one to choose ?
So you find yourself in a Danish bakery (and ideally the ones that we have listed as the best bakeries in Copenhagen) and you ask for a Danish, and the response from the nice person behind the counter is ”sure – which one?”. Now is the time to know your Danish pastries so here is a rundown of the few main ones:
Chokoladebolle: easy going puff pastry with chocolate icing on the top. Kid friendly Danish that is high on sugar and butter and not much else. I used to love them when I was a kid.
Spandauer: My absolute favourite and it is basically puff pastry with marcipan and custard filling. Sounds perhaps a bit over the top, but if you get a good one, it is delicious and you will hunger for one more even though the one you just ate probably accounted for 3000 calories.
Snegl (snail): this is snail shaped pastry that usually comes with either regular or chocolate icing on top. Some versions have cinnamon in them.
In addition to the three types of Danish pastry above, each bakery probably has an additional 5 types, so there are lots to choose from. And if there are none of the pastries that you fancy, you can always buy some of the other delicious and sweet alternatives (and classics) such as Hindbærsnitte, Strawberry cake, kringle etc.
There are many places you can get Danish Pastries but if you want to be sure that they are very good then buy them at one of the bakeries we recommend in our post about Best Bakeries in Copenhagen.
And here is a word of warning. If you consume a Danish pastry beware of two things: 1. you would want a second pastry straight away, so don’t go too far from the bakery 2. You may need a nap afterwards or a strong cup of coffee because the sugar, the butter, the wheat will knock you out! If you’d like to burn some of those thousands of calories, you can join us on a running tour.
Happy eating and running,