Photo by TJ Turner
Danielle Bjorling started making cakes at 14, and it was love at first bake. In her early 20s, she dreamed of owning a space where she could create and sell baked goods and hand-crafted cocktails. Then, in 2014, after her husband and in-house accountant ran the numbers to make sure the couple could afford to open a business, she minted a menu, and the Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen opened its doors.
Although the full-service seasonal restaurant has been open on Eat Street in Minneapolis for three years now, this hipster-on-the-farm brunch, lunch, and dinner spot has continued to make a name for itself, participating on CNBC’s Restaurant Startup early last year (more-or-less the restaurant version of Shark Tank) and going on to develop a full cocktail menu, host events (six weddings in two months this year), and, as of this month, publish a cookbook.
Putting together The Copper Hen Cookbook began early 2016, when food writer and co-owner of Duluth’s Best Bread Robert Lillegard reached out to the Bjorlings. The couple was getting ready to participate on Restaurant Startup, so taking on a cookbook had to go on the back burner—until now.
Creating such a book goes deeper than simply cataloging recipes, especially for a seasonal restaurant like the Copper Hen. The restaurant changes its menu twice a year, so Danielle spent hours deciding which of the restaurant’s hundreds of dishes to include. Once she selected a recipe, she then needed to scale it down to home-cooking portions (as most don’t need to make enough cookies to feed a couple hundred people). For the book, Lillegard wrote “blood-sweat-and-tears stories” introducing readers to each dish and the Bjorlings. After hundreds of hours, she and Lillegard narrowed the restaurant’s archives down to about 120 recipes that best represent the Copper Hen.
For example: sugar cookies that are designed to be the ideal consistency for cutting out fun shapes and then frosting with kids; a cocktail called “Cherry Cherry Bang Bang” that is made in the restaurant using vodka and sour cherry liqueur strictly from Tattersall Distilling; and a chicken pot pie that is made with velouté, a traditional French sauce and root vegetables.
You can find The Copper Hen Cookbook online or, if you want to sample some of the recipes before purchasing the book, you can pick up an entree, a cocktail, and a copy at the Copper Hen.