Paige Latham Didora
serendipitous beer: the copper hen
Enter The Hen. On first visit, I was relieved and excited to find a beautifully lit and peacefully airy space with both savory and sweet treats along with fresh salads, simmering soup, and a focused but quality array of dinner specials. The bright bakery case features the simple to sophisticated, glowing atop copper trays and inside museum-like cake stands. Owner and chef Danielle Bjorling has affection for all of her creations but has little hesitation when I ask for a cupcake suggestion; she quickly narrows it down to the To-Dye-For Red Velvet and the Signature Carrot.
I take both.
I will admit that I am relieved to see one cake coated in classic sprinkles, a somewhat obsolete adornment, amidst the farm-to-table ingredients. Those colorful little dots that somehow make treats tastier to most kids also add a certain home-made aspect, reminding diners that these are not mass-produced treats.
The red velvet cake is decadent, mostly due to the cream cheese frosting. There is a a perfect amount of moisture but it is not over-rich or cloying in sweetness. To my surprise, however, I enjoy the carrot even more. Topped with the classic little frosting vegetable, the texture has a slightly crumbly aspect and the spicing is spot on: not Christmas, but present and harmonious. Danielle hand-shreds the carrots creating very fine threads, and the nuts, too, are chopped quite small.
With a rotating tap list including the occasional unexpected seasonal or specialty beer, diners should have no problem pairing cupcakes and other treats with a beverage. Currently the Odell Lugene and 21st Amendment Fireside Chat would be pairing candidates. Following the guidelines of pairing like things and pairing opposite things can guide you in beer and cupcake adventures. To get you started, try the unexpected duo of carrot cake and IPA. No, really. Order a Sculpin or 612 Six and just thank me later.
Local ingredients and beverages plus Minnesota beer solidify my spot as a regular at The Copper Hen. The next time you aren’t feeling like Mexican, Himalayan, or German, try Minnesotan.