CARLSBAD — In 1984, Lone Jensen and former husband Peder Norby started the Carlsbad Danish Bakery. They grew their family while growing their fledgling business. When Jensen sold the bakery last spring, customers worried that things just wouldn’t be the same. To the contrary, three families have come together to maintain the integrity of the business known for its offering of fresh, traditional bakery items.
These days it’s an all-girl team running the bakery that includes three mothers and their daughters: new owner Joyce Harris and daughters Jen and Julie Kircher, previous owner Jensen and daughter Betina Norby and long-time employee Sebastiana Urena and daughter Maria.
Jensen recalls bringing Betina to work when the bakery first opened.
“Sometimes I had Betina in a crib down here,” she said. “Today, she is our strongest baker.”
Baking begins each night at 2 a.m. when Betina arrives to meet demand for Danish pastries, breads, French pastries and cakes when the doors open at 7 a.m.
The top seller is cinnamon custard Danish.
Cheryl Miller and friend Lyn Kelley of Indianapolis, Ind. discovered the pastry while vacationing at Carlsbad’s Grand Pacific MarBrisa Resort last week.
“We drove by and decided to stop,” Miller remembers. “We had never tasted anything quite like that — the pastry is light, flaky and buttery fresh. Our husbands said, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is wonderful.’”
Kelley adds, “We’ve come back and bought a whole cake every day since then. We’re leaving today.”
Though the Millers and Kelleys are returning home, they’ll be able to have the pastries delivered directly to their doorstep.
“Since the Internet is so big, we’re going to begin shipping products,” Harris said. “My daughter’s husband is in the Navy and we ship to Iraq. They say the pastries are good even though we don’t use preservatives.”
Jensen adds that “Seven Sisters” is the most authentic Danish pastry at the shop. It is crafted with traditional dough, crumb filling made with graham crackers and coconut and cream cheese, almond paste, custard, raisins and puff dough on top.
“People will call ahead,” Jensen explained. “It’s the thing they want to take to L.A. when they are traveling.”
Over the years Jensen, who is Danish, has learned to diversify her bakery offerings to satisfy the American palate.
“They are not as crazy about almonds as Scandinavians,” she explained. That’s why the refrigerator display case is brimming with cookies, cupcakes, rum balls and éclairs.
Recently Harris added the Spanish confection, tres leches cupcake, which combines condensed, evaporated and regular milk with rum or brandy that is finished with cream cheese icing.
“One customer said that she’s glad she doesn’t have to drive to South Bay anymore,” Harris reported.
Last summer whoopie pies made their debut. They are a Pennsylvania Dutch invention that are like two cookies, made of cake, and sandwiched with cream filling.
“Now with springtime upon us, we’re bringing it back,” Harris said.
There will be other changes this spring including a facelift to the retail area and patio which has become a popular meeting place for old friends, cyclists, dog lovers and their pooches who enjoy fresh-baked dog biscuits that are gluten and grain free.
Jensen said there can be a lot of stress in a bakery environment. One year an experienced wedding cake decorator had just finished a cake and placed it into the walk-in refrigerator.
“Then she tripped and fell in the cake face first,” Jensen said laughing. “Delivering wedding cakes are the scariest thing, especially before there were cell phones and it was hot in the summer and you couldn’t find the location.”
Wedding cakes still represent a big part of the business. The bakery has a partnership with Provence Bride at 2946 State St. where they get referrals and prepare cakes for the window display.
After almost a year as owner, Joyce Harris is pleased with her purchase.
“We are happy that Lone and Betina are here,” she said. “We are a good family together. Lone has been a great teacher and mentor.”
Carlsbad Danish Bakery is located at 2805 Roosevelt St. Hours are Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The bakery is now open Sundays from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, call (760) 729-6186 or visit www.carlsbaddanish.com or facebook.com/carlsbaddanishbakery.