Swedish limpa rye; Finnish pulla; Finnish rye; cardamom coffee cake, kringle: we don’t see Scandinavian baked goods like these back home in New Jersey. Here in Minnesota, it’s de rigueur, especially if the bakery is run by descendants of Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian immigrants, as is Johnson’s Bakery of Duluth.
Johnson’s is one of the few old-time bakers remaining in Duluth. The Johnsons opened their doors in 1946 and have operated continuously for 71 years, even as other Duluth bakeries fell by the wayside along the way. Walk into the original Lincoln Park store and a few things strike you: the neighborhood has perhaps seen better days; the bakery itself is low-key, with a distinctly Scandinavian lack of flash; those who work behind the counter are friendly and familiar with just about everyone who walks through the front door.
We’ve enjoyed coffee cakes and donuts at Johnson’s (they have a couple of tables for immediate gratification) but our favorite thing at Johnson’s (so far) has to be the cranberry wild rice bread. This isn’t an artisan-style loaf. Johnson’s cranberry wild rice bread is light textured, and we think the only way to eat it is toasted and buttered. The wild rice is mostly a textural experience; when a slice is toasted the rice lends a pleasant crackliness.
We recommend arriving at Johnson’s as early in the AM as possible, for the best selection. If you are looking for kringle, you should call a day in advance. Note that there is a second, newer location of Johnson’s, in the northeast neighborhood of Lakeside.2230 West Third Street Duluth MN 55806 218-727-1889 Johnson’s Bakery’s Website Johnson’s Bakery on Facebook