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Baked Goods

Hansen's Danish Pastry Shop

Posted by Dar Mustafa / Posted on October 29, 2009

Danish Pastry ShopHansen's Danish Pastry Shop and its stately black and white sign is hard to miss on this stretch of Pape Avenue, north of the Danforth. Owned by the same family for forty-nine years, there is virtually nothing around it which shares a similar aesthetic or cultural perspective. It startles.

Danish Pastry ShopAnd startle me it did, as I pressed my nose up against the foggy window of the Don Mills 25 bus for the first time, almost exactly a year ago. Visions of Danish butter cookie tins from my childhood danced in my head, and all I could think, through the sheer force of superficiality and imagination was: "I want to go to there."

20091029_danish_07.jpgIt consequently became a mission of epic proportions to find it again (damn those foggy windows and my complete lack of directional skills), and to find myself there when it was actually open. The reality most certainly did not disappoint, and due to our conflicting schedules, and the space between us, every visit is a precious treat.

Danish Pastry ShopMy most precious treats happen to be cookies with lots of butter. Now, I am no baking expert, nor Danish cuisine expert, but the butter appears to be pretty plentiful around these parts.

Danish Pastry ShopThe raspberry cookies (30 cents each, $3.65 a dozen) have a lovely golden tinge, and smooth texture which would suggest as much. Many of the other cookies seem to share these traits, as they do that piped shape which warms my soul (those ones used to be my second-favourite in the tin).

Danish Pastry ShopThe pecan tarts ($1.50) also carry the use of this ingredient to a blissful extreme - the richest, smoothest, freshest I've had anywhere. The crust and filling practically disappear into each other, in a mass of chewy comfort, and even the one that got crushed in my bag on the way home tasted of perfection.

Despite their intense sweetness, their relatively small size is perfect for those of us who can only take our desserts in small doses (and it's the same case with most of their cookies). They are also the perfect size to appear downright magical, and to treat a large group of loved ones for not very much money at all.

Danish Pastry ShopMy favourite thing here though is probably the no-nonsense "white cream buns" ($2), which are usually my inspiration to get off the bus in the first place. Like an ├ęclair, only better, the pastry is impossibly light and flaky, as well as very moist. It is filled with cream - not custard, but cream. See? No nonsense. They are divine.

Danish Pastry ShopThat age-old phrase about kids in candy shops was created for establishments of this ilk. The treats are all laid out in grand piles, behind a store-spanning pastry case and through the front window, perfect for some more nose-pressing-against. Oh, and I can assure you that it will have just the right amount of fog on it, soon enough.

20091029_danish_09.jpg The result is very old-fashioned, and very European. The kind of feeling everyone knows that their pastry shop *should* have; the one that gives us that enchanted sensation in our bellies (even before trying the food).

Danish Pastry ShopA fellow customer has just exited, his arms full of bags and boxes (tied up with string!), and politely inquires about my photo-taking. He is a long-time fan of Hansen's, and of a Northern European background himself. Of course, my own assessment of the flavour is rooted in a Canadian (and Southern European) context, so I'm curious,

"Is the food -- ?"

"Yes, it's very authentic," he nods emphatically, before I can even finish. So authentic that he recounts a time in the past when he had heard rumors of closing, due to a momentary lack of bakers with the proper expertise. I trust that this was nothing more than a bad dream.

Danish Pastry ShopMy box of pastries and I go and patiently wait to get back on the bus, preparing to lavish our loved ones with sweets for no particular reason.

Danish Pastry Shop



DS / October 30, 2009 at 10:02 am
This place is truly amazing.

East York reppin'
Olga / October 30, 2009 at 10:25 am
Oh my, I have yet to cross from the nose-pressing stage on the 25 Don Mills to the actual buying of delicious pastries stage because I too have a hard time getting there when it's open. I take that bus every day and hope for a day when I'll get there in time to finally try something delicious. I know that it'll be worth the wait.
Kristen / October 30, 2009 at 11:01 am
I love this place. Make sure you try their kringle. (You can pre-order a whole one, or just grab a "stick" version.) This a traditional Danish treat, usually reserved for special occasions. Its a buttery delicious flaky pastry, that is oohh sooo good!
I have to say my mother still makes the best kringle in my mind, but Hansen's makes a good runner up!
chephy / October 30, 2009 at 11:25 am
Hey, thanks for that review! Gotta try this place one day... I regularly go to that part of town; good to know of cool things that exist there.
jack / October 30, 2009 at 11:53 am
does anyone know of a good Japanese bakery in toronto?
Nicole / November 1, 2009 at 02:10 pm
This is one of the best bakeries in Toronto. There is an amazing array of delicious baked goods to choose from and in a time when good customer service is declining, staff take the time to learn their regular customers' names.
smiley / December 8, 2009 at 10:57 pm
Their danish is to die for! Everything is fresh, reasonably priced, and tastes very homey.
max / June 13, 2010 at 09:20 pm
Go there during Christmas. They have a tradition and put a giant gingerbread house
in the front window. (they also sell smaller sized gingerbread houses around Christmas). Great place to take the kids to see this display. Its magic and does remind you that there still remains well maintained and family run companies that carry a long history of tradition behind them. Its highly recommended 20 out of 10.
Donna / July 3, 2010 at 12:20 am
Absolutely the best buttertarts to be found anywhere. Simply awesome.
JB / November 9, 2010 at 02:03 pm
I was just at Hansen's today to put together a box of treats for my sister. The staff there is so kind, patient and knowledgeable, and take the time to explain all of the pastries and their ingredients. Absolutely amazing food for great prices. I love this place!
Hugh Grant / March 4, 2011 at 06:29 pm
I have long been a customer at this great place. As a Brit in exile, I can attest to Chelsea buns and Eccles cakes much better than available now in UK.They remind me of a childhood long past!
This is an oasis of quality in a world increasingly passed off with ersatz imitations of the genuine article.
Go there if you like real cream, and original recipes.You will not be disappointed.
ellen / July 1, 2011 at 12:44 pm
The only thing I don't like about the Danish Pastry Shop is that they often run out of my favourites (nut Chelsea, chocolate eclairs) before I arrive. Thankfully there always seems to be enough Kringle to satisfy my craving for their treats.
Brian South Africa / September 7, 2011 at 08:11 am
I'm on the search for a book or listing of favourite Danish Pastry Recipes. I'm paticularly keen on the open tarts with custard and raisens and would really appreciate the recipe for that if possible.
Living in hope,
Thank you,
Brian Pitcher
South Africa
BL / May 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm
Do they make real Danish Rye bread? I hope so.
Stacy / October 9, 2014 at 08:05 pm
This store is just lovely, every time I've gone in I've experienced such wonderful customer service. Additionally, their desserts are amazing, especially the Danish, so glad I live close by!
Gordon / October 29, 2014 at 01:24 pm
Love to buy myself a treat here once every month. The staff is so amazing and wonderful to deal with. The pastries are always melt in your mouth delicious.
Heather / June 2, 2015 at 10:12 am
My Grandparents and my Dad came from Copenhagen in the 1950's and my Farmor (Father's mother) has been going to this bakery ever since. She gets Marzipan there and other treats for us (even the Danish flag bumper stickers!).
Barb C / June 2, 2015 at 09:55 pm
In my quest for Buttertart Bliss (also the name of my blog), Hansen's currently tops my list for the best butter tarts in the GTA -- the old fashioned kind, not the ones in the tins. Great neighbourhood bakery with high quality products. They also make some of the best fern tarts and eccles cakes around.
Nat / June 14, 2015 at 01:36 pm
great quality, integrity of their products and I love their customer service! It is like coming home. I am partial to their apple danishes. A good cup of coffee, a couch, a book and an apple danish and it is the next best thing to heaven

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