I have an extremely unhealthy (quite literally) obsession with baked goods. Especially pastries. Eating them, baking them . . .eating more of them. Every time myself and my boyfriend travel to a new place, it is a certainty that I will find as many different bakeries to try as humanly possible. This may often lead to multiple slices of cake for breakfast, but if it’s all in the name of research, well what’s the harm? We shall simply ignore the wails from my long term suffering waist line . . .
Naturally, I love trying all the local, especially independent, bakeries in and around Cardiff. We’ve been quite lucky in the last few years that several new businesses have been established, and today’s post is a celebration of one of my favourites: Brød, the Danish Bakery. I would be lying if I said this was my first visit to Brød. Sadly, each previous trip has resulted in a lack of ability to restrain myself from scoffing the products immediately. This has meant continual regret for the lack of photos as I sat surrounded in a debris of pasty flakes. Finally, however, I kept a firm resolve, and can actually show you why I love this place so much!
Brød was established by Betina Skovbro. After moving to Wales from Denmark in 1998, and quickly discovering that she missed the freshly baked breads which formed such a rich part of her life in Denmark, she longed to bring something of this tradition to her new home. I won’t waste time trying to give a watered down version of her inspiring story, when you can read her own words here. What I will say, is that she has achieved this dream with remarkable success.
The owner was extremely lucky in the fact that her Danish dream was able to find such a perfect location from which to operate. Situated on Wyndham Cresent in Pontcana (a short street walk from Canton), the shop stands proudly on a large, extremely visible corner. Placed within a residential area, the shop gives a much more friendly, homely feel than anything you might find crammed in amongst retail shops elsewhere. With large windows, and two sides exposed to the street, the bakery really does eagerly entice customers inside with a mouth watering selection of bread (brød), pastry (wienerbrød) and cake (kage).
Yet the loveliness does not stop there. Once inside, you are met with a cosy interior which has a heavy emphasis on natural wood furnishing. I am particularly in love with one wall which is quite literally full of lovely wooden, rolling pins, proving sharply reminiscent of times spent baking with family. Brød is not a modern, sparse shop which strives to appeal with sleek lines and chic colour schemes – it is far more than this. I have never been to Denmark (hopefully this will be rectified), but I cannot help but feel that this bakery is a perfect encapsulation of the warmth, the comfort, and the tradition of such a culture.
Decor aside, the thing which immediately arrests the attention of the eyes is their visually stunning products. Rather than containing their wares behind glass, we are given a much more open plan, rustic approach, with the products carefully displayed on immaculate wooden shelves, crying out to be bought and tasted immediately. During a visit, you can see the shelves quickly deplete, but then be refilled almost immediately with even more fresh products. Being a huge baker myself, I especially love the fact that part of the kitchen is open plan, and we can see the trays of newly baked products being endlessly filled. I also took a shine to a giant whisk attachment, and I am slightly curious as to the probability of fitting such a magnificent tool to my KitchenAid at home . . .
As stated, I have been to Brød on numerous times, involving romantic breakfasts with my boyfriend (Mr Chef), or a lazy afternoon catch up with my friends. Whilst I have adored everything I have previously tried, I wanted to broaden my horizons and try even more of their products. After an agonizing deliberation, I selected something new for my taste buds, the Chokolade Bolle. Mr Chef (ever the savoury breakfast lover), opted for Tomato Og Oste Snegl.
Taking our seats, we waited mere minutes before our breakfast and drinks were carefully placed before us. Immediately, I knew I had made the right choice. The first thing I noticed about my pastry was just how incredibly flaky the pastry was. Cooked to a gloriously golden brown exterior, the pastry itself was a delight, breaking away with the slightest bite to reveal a flaky, buttery oasis of goodness. I think perhaps the easier way to explain the taste of this would be to say that both the texture and taste are very similar to that of a croissant, but with an added sweetness. As an avid bakery, I could not help but be incredibly impressed with the lamination which had been achieved o the dough. As I hope the photos can tell, the layers within the pastry were plentiful.
For a pastry with chocolate in the name, you might think this to be an overly sweet option. You would, I think however, be pleasantly surprised. Yes, of course it is going to be sweet, but the pastry is surprisingly light because of the air between layers. The chocolate positioned on top was also cleverly done. The chocolate itself was very rich, with a semi-melted, luxuriantly silky texture. It is clever, because the bakers clearly understand this richness, which is why I assume they have only placed a small portion of chocolate on the top. This stops the pastry becoming overwhelmed by a sweet richness, maintaining a careful balance of flavours. I would definitely recommend this option if you were in the mood for something sweet, but perhaps not as obviously sweet as some of the more icing coated varieties available.
Obviously, I had to take a bit of Mr Chef’s too, and so we dutifully swapped pastries for a second. Much more bread like, with a soft pillowy texture, this option was bursting with flavour. I am a pizza fiend, and for me this was highly reminiscent of that. With the ever so slight tang of the cheese, and the freshness of the tomato, this was something I could (and surely will) have eaten over and over again. Proof that Brød also excels in the savoury department.
On the way out, I must admit that we were once more sidetracked by the delectable produce on offer. Knowing that his parents were entertaining that night for New Year’s Eve, Mr Chef stopped to pick up a loaf of bread. He went with the Italiensk Brød, which is described as a ‘premium white bloomer’. Although I did not try the bread, I can safely say it smelt amazing! At a mere £2 for a freshly baked loaf, I would say this is definitely well priced.
Whilst pursuing the bread options, both myself and my boyfriend once more became rather greedy. Giving in to our dark side, but justifying our greed with the fact that we would share it, we quickly picked up a Kanelstang. As you can see, this is a pastry capable of appealing with its appearance alone. The pastry was simply, yet effectively decorated, with alternating icings which I am certain will appeal to children and adults alike.
I afterwards read that Kanelstang translates as ‘cinnamon rod’, and after splitting our pastry (equally of course), we could clearly see why. I am not sure if the photos below will do justice to this product, but the inside of the dough was filled with an amazingly moist, almost syrupy cinnamon mixture. The dough itself was quite thick, and more substantive than my Chokolade Bolle, but the mixture, as well as the icing on top, kept the pastry as a whole deliciously moist, and incredibly moreish. Likewise, the balance between the spice of the cinnamon and the sweetness of the icing was perfection. It’s quite unusual to find a pastry that is moist without being filled with an excessive amount of cream, so I am so pleased to have found this! Much sweeter than the Bolle, and heavier overall, it was, I have to say, the clear winner of the day. Next time I will make sure to pick up two! Or three . . .
With such an emphasis on fresh, artisan goods, you may expect the quality of drinks to perhaps be neglected. I did not think this was the case with the hot chocolate I had. The drink was incredibly rich, with no cheap powder used, and came in the perfect size for a single serving. What I really loved was the foam standing so cloud like on top. Detesting coffee, I am always envious when Mr Chef is presented with a lovely layer of foam, so it was very much appreciated that I was able to also experience this, without the stodgy addition of whipped cream to create some volume. Mr Chef went with a coffee, rather predictably, and agreed that the drink was well rounded with a lovely creaminess on top. He also loves the traditional sugar cubes they place on the tables, which are a very nice addition.
If you have never been to Brød before, or are new to the world of Danish bakeries, please do not feel nervous or hesitant because of this! The friendliness of the staff is very much symbolic of the overall atmosphere, and many times now they have given me excellent advice and information to help me make a fantastic choice. Also, it’s great to hear someone pronounce the names of the products the correct way – I am certainly not multilingual!
With pastries coming in at around £2.30 each, it is definitely a good price in my eyes. When you take into account the quality of ingredients, the skilled labour, and the freshness of the products (never mind the amazing taste), it is very much worth while.I have also noted that they now offer a Hygge afternoon tea which has quickly moved to the top of my wish list! If you are keen to try a different kind of cultural cuisine, are a lover of pastries, or even just want to take time out from a hectic life to sit and watch the world go by, Brød would definitely be my bet.