PIECE OF CAKE - September 27, 2011
Cake and Loaf Bakery 321 Dundurn Street South
My fellow tour-mates and I are obviously quite partial to sweets (every restaurant we’ve been to so far has heard us inquire about the dessert menu, often while still eating our meals) and we have definitely been sampling our way in cupcakes around the City. I had been hearing rumblings about Cake & Loaf Bakery and, after having my first taste of their delicious products at Sew Hungry, I was super excited to visit the newly-opened bakery on Dundurn and find out more about it.
The bakery is a wonderful addition to the street – warm and inviting, I dare anyone to walk by it without entering. Once inside, you won’t want to leave! The building, once a house and barber shop, has been completely renovated into a bakery and the aesthetic has a real DIY feel about it, which is what they were going for. The front space is comprised of vibrant green walls, colourful chalkboard menus, a display of delectable goodies, and delicious (and local!) Detour Coffee ready to be poured. I enjoyed chatting with the friendly Amanda and Erin, of the front of house staff, and observed how much fun it must be to work at Cake & Loaf, and they enthusiastically agreed. I then got to tour the kitchen in the back, where all the magic happens, meet some more of the staff, and see some of the baking in action.
The owners, Josie and Nickey, met in 2003 at culinary school. Between the two of them, they have worked at almost every bakery in the City, but running their own was their dream. They got back in touch a few years later and in 2008 they bought the building that would become Cake & Loaf. Location was key, and while they had some options, Dundurn Street proved to be the perfect spot for the new business. Josie reflected on how growing up, there was a nearby neighbourhood bakery on her street, and this was important to her when creating her own. Although Josie and Nickey have been steadily working away, running a community supported baking service, taking custom orders, and working out of the Ottawa Street and Ancaster farmers’ markets, the bakery is now open as a retail shop. The neighbourhood had been anxiously awaiting the opening, since the area was lacking a proper coffee and bake shop, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. It didn’t take long for Cake & Loaf to have its share of regular customers. During my visit, many people came in and out, some stopping in for coffee (and being easily coaxed into trying some free samples – myself, included) and one customer put in an order for a custom cake. Nickey is in charge of the custom cakes, creating fantastic edible works of art. They take a lot of walk-in orders, and the cakes in particular are in high demand; Nickey makes about half a dozen per week.
What sets Cake & Loaf apart from other bakeries in the City is their mission to supply their customers with healthy alternatives. Their products are all made from local, organic, and fair trade ingredients. Josie noted that meeting all of the local suppliers has been her favourite part of running the business. From fruits and veggies, to dairy products, to meats, their ingredients come from many family-run local businesses. Not only does this make for the healthiest and most responsible food options, but it benefits the whole community.
I was amazed to learn how much they create – they do a lot of canning and have an array of homemade preserves available, they make their own syrups for specialty drinks, and I got to sample their Russian cheesecake, consisting of unhomogenized milk, and cheese they made from scratch! It was delicious, and has 1/3 less calories, to boot! Gluten-free and vegan lines are also made available. With Josie as the Artisan Bread Baker and Nickey the Cake Creator, there is no end to their talent and creativity, resulting in an astonishing variety of food. Working with seasonal ingredients, coming up with new recipes is part of the fun. Later I also sampled their pear coffee cake, pictured below, which was lovely.
Speaking of samples and, let’s face it, getting to indulge is the best part of visiting a bakery, the girls generously spoiled me by putting together a scrumptious assortment of treats for me to try, including vanilla cupcakes with raspberry preserves in the middle and fluffy cream cheese icing, dark chocolate brownies, date and lemon bars, and some of their famous breads (I especially loved the cheese rolls). This is making me hungry as I write this… I must visit again soon!
I also have to mention a little full circle moment I had while at Cake & Loaf. Contributing to being in tune with the community, local radio station INDI 101 was playing throughout the shop (which we visited this summer). It just so happened to be a Tuesday, and whose voice do I hear announcing the next song? Mr. Max Wray, of course! See, the man is always around on our Tour.
A bakery is a place I’ve always wanted to visit, since I love to bake, and while I’m still an amateur baker, it was so much fun to be around creative people who really know what they’re doing. Being around all of those baked goods, it was kind of heaven. Once again, it was so inspiring to see people’s passion for doing what they love. I can’t wait to go back with the Girls to share with them my latest Hamilton discovery and to try out some more of Cake & Loaf’s savoury delicacies.
P.S. I returned to Cake & Loaf a couple weeks later, on October 15th, for their grand opening. It was a great success - their bread was selling out fast. They had complimentary coffee, cookies, and sandwiches to snack on (the turkey & brie was excellent!), and the kitchen was bustling with activity as the staff worked hard to keep up with demand. I bought their cheddar onion beer loaf to try, as well as the pumpkin cheesecake. You have to take advantage of pumpkin season while you can! The verdict: amazing!! If you have yet to visit Cake & Loaf, hop to it!