A Copenhagen bakery in a gritty part of town has added ten gourmet pizzas to its menu, including a chocolate and sea-salt pizza
“Travelling was my biggest inspiration,” explains Laura’s Bakery founder Kristian Vangsgaard. “The Americans – especially the Californians – have taken great Italian pizza recipes and made them better. Now we’re giving those recipes a Danish twist.”
In the very heart of Copenhagen’s gritty Nørrebro district, Laura’s Bakery is nestled amongst grungy bars, halal butchers, florists and a Middle Eastern greengrocer. Yet its graffiti-covered concrete façade and large polished windows blend in nicely, as if the row of buildings has been crying out for something different for decades. The pedestrianised street just off the busy Nørrebrogade is a thrive of activity, especially in the evenings when groups of young men and women sit and socialise outside, wrapped in warm blankets and nursing mugs of steaming hot coffee. Not a single outdoor heater is to be found anywhere.
It’s a far cry from the bakery’s flagship store at the popular indoor market Torvehallen, where food lovers from across Denmark stop by to taste some of the country’s best cuisine and fresh produce. To have a stall here is perhaps one of the highest honours that a local food outlet can possess. So why setup shop anywhere else?
“There’s a certain Brooklyn magic here in Nørrebro,” Kristian tells me.
“We’ve got a great mix of artists, politicians and cool people living and operating in the area. It’s a very different crowd.”
But the bakery in Nørrebro has a trick of its own up its sleeve: a brand new chocolate, almond and sea-salt pizza.
“Even our previous chef thought it was a mad idea and didn’t want to be a part of it until he tried it,” says Kristian. And when Sicilian head chef Giuseppe Oliva joined the team later, he wasn’t crazy with the idea, either. “It’s my face customers see whilst their pizza is being made,” he told me. But after three or four tweaks with the ingredients, both chef and manager were pleased with the final results.
The idea to include pizzas in the bakery’s daily routine came to Kristian after watching the usual ebb and flow of customers throughout the day.
“People tend to come in early for pastries and coffee, followed by sandwiches and melts at lunchtime. Maybe they swing by later for a cake or two to take home after work, but that’s pretty much it for the day.
“We wanted to utilise the space that we have and make the most of it. Why slow down, we thought?”
So from 5pm onwards, the bakery now serves ten unconventional pizza recipes, including a popular parmesan, artichoke, lemon and olive pizza, known as the Sicilian Spring (see below for a taste guide).
There are three sour doughs to choose from – rye, full grain and classic wheat – and all are left to prove for two nights. And to help customers who aren’t fond of the crusts, Giuseppe coats them in olive oil to make them crispier and tastier.
“It’s something that I certainly appreciate,” says Kristian with a smile.
The interior of the bakery has also been well designed and is based on Kristian’s love of travelling. The blend of concrete worktops with wooden tables, Kristian informs me, is to help strengthen a Brooklyn / French ambience.
As a businessman, Kristian admits to having tried several different projects over the years, but his passion has always been with food.
“I have fond memories of being in the kitchen with my mother as she cooked. That’s probably why I care so much about food. All our ingredients are Scandinavian-sourced from either Denmark or Sweden and both the milk and coffee beans that we use are organic. It’s something I’m extremely proud of.”