REVIEW: Amsterdam delicious, across the board

Work dough

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13232 118 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5L 4N4

You won’t find too many successful bakeries in large strip malls.

More than the smell of fresh bread and fond childhood memories, bakeries are reflections of their communities. Often forgotten in the modern age of grabbing everything at the supermarket, bakeries that survive tend to do so because they’re close to people’s homes and understand what their customers want.

And in a sense, that’s what you get when you to Edmonton’s most famous bakery, the much-lauded, much-reviewed Duchess, on 124 Street. Just north of Glenora and a block east of Westmount, Duchess is to baked goods as Saks of Fifth Avenue has been to couture over the years; people like reviewing its quite amazing baked goods just so that they can be the latest person…..reviewing its baked goods.

But, just like all those wood A-Frames from the 1920s in its nearest neighbourhoods, all that goodness and classic form comes at a high price. Duchess is great…but it sure ain’t cheap. Just like Cobb’s on 142 Street, which sits a few blocks from tony ravine housing and Daryl Katz’s joint, there’s a price for hanging around with the rich kids.

Meanwhile, just a few blocks north on the 118 Avenue/St. Albert Trail traffic circle, one finds the Dutch Delicious Bakery and Deli. No fly by night, this little Dutch deli has been serving up fantastic baked goods, meats and cheese for more than 40 years, in one form or another (and as the Sherwood Bakery for the bulk of that.)

Its latest incarnation came about five years ago, when Siebe and Joni Koopman bought the place and turned it into both an upscale bakery/deli and a full-range Dutch import shop. Since then, the lovingly lined shelves have added other European imports, along with some porcelain wares, fantastic coffee and a wide array of chocolate and sweets.

But most consistently since the Koopmans took over, the baked goods here are fantastic, truly top-of-the-line. And, as with other examples, the prices reflect the neighbourhood, which is working class and down-to-earth.

The sweet apple slices, a flaky turnover, are about the size of your hand, yet will run you under $2, as do many of their treats. They’re thickly glazed, with just enough cinnamon to keep you interested and big chunks of apple, while the Apple Bollen are like pastry dumplings. There are also multiple strudels, including a rich, tangy triple berry that explodes with flavour.

The store works magic with whipped cream, including two types of cream puff (I preferred the chocolate with a small orange slice on top), mocha and rum cream squares, and a cream horn as light as air….but as thick as your wrist.

The Dutch are big on marzipan but Dutch Delicious doesn’t stuff its display case full of the stuff. Instead, for those of us who can gladly scoff almost icing by the bucket-load, there are a handful of dense, rich squares, along with a wide array of baked goods that include almonds.

Dutch Delicious’s bread selection is also a strength (although the store tends to go from strength-to-strength, so that’s no surprising), with a wide selection of tradition ryes and grain breads. It also has two particularly delicious raisin loafs. I side with the standard loaf, which ran a couple of bucks and was light, fluffy and laden with plump raisins. But if you’re really into your dessicated grapes, the Dutch loaf is raisin insanity: it clocks in at around $5, but when you pick it up you’ll realize why, as there seem to be more raisins and currants than bread in each slice.

Dutch Delicious is consistently busy but still manages to serve people with fluid grace and professionalism. It may be in a blue-collar lunchbucket neighbourhood., but its wares are strictly first class.