The Best Danishes in Toronto
The best Danishes in Toronto are made, like other viennoiserie pastries, with a laminated yeast-leavened dough that turns flaky and airy, like a puff pastry. Finding that perfect combination of flour, yeast, milk, eggs and the ever-important butter is what marks a truly stellar Danish from an average one: The effect should be a fluffy flakiness and buttery taste, but not overly sweet. In North America, the Danish is most often topped with fruit, custard or sweet baker's cheese, while in the native Denmark, chocolate, jam and marzipan are used.
Funnily enough, the Danish isn't even really Danish. It evolved around 1850, after bakers in Denmark went on strike and bakeries were forced to hired foreign workers, mainly Austrians, who incorporated their talent for making that wonderfully flaky, croissant-like pastry. Danishes made their way across the Atlantic around 1915 when they were baked for Woodrow Wilson's wedding by L.C. Klitteng. Klitteng also popularized the Danish in a series of New York restaurants, and thus began the pastry hit we know today.
Here are the best Danishes in Toronto.
French-trained master pastry chef Thierry Schmitt has perfected the Danish pastry at Patisserie La Cigogne's two locations (Bayview and the Danforth). The man taught courses in French baking and advanced patisserie at George Brown, which suggests he’s ‘schooling’ the competition.
Rahier is famous for their pistachio Danishes, but you’ve also got custard, cherries, fruit puree, nuts and more for your taste buds to contemplate. Owner and chef Francois Rahier, along with partner Souvannaraj Keopraseuth, both trained in pastry in Belgium (just a hop and skip away from Denmark) and brought back their incredible skills to Leaside.
They already make a stellar croissant, so it's no wonder Mabel’s Bakery (with locations on Queen and Roncesvalles) also has a grasp on its distant cousin, the Danish. Pinwheel apple Danishes, sprinkled with a little confectioner’s sugar, are as lovely to look at as they are to taste.
The Harbord Bakery has a handle on the viennoiserie pastries, like the Danish, as an extension of their role as one of Toronto’s oldest Jewish bakeries (open since 1929). Their Danishes feature pastry dough, wrapped slightly with a lemony and cheesy filling and dusted with white icing sugar.
As the only bakery on the list with the word Danish actually in their name, Hansen’s is the most authentic. It's been an East York staple for over 40 years. Here the Danish is rectangular, and features raisins, marzipan, custard or fruit swathed in a dough that’s light and buttery.
Traditional French patisserie and friendly neighbourhood standby are not contradictions, at least, not at Thobors at Mt. Pleasant and Davisville. Owners Marc and Sylvie Thobor brought over their baking skills from their native France. The apricot Danish is a beautiful confection of folded pastry, golden apricots and a little icing sugar dusting for $2.90.
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