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Food & Drink

Seven of Toronto’s best new microbakeries

Including one that makes adorable smiley face bread

More baked goods

Toronto's best bread right now

There was a time, not so long ago, when half of Toronto was making bread at home. Three years later, most of those new bakers have given up the hobby, their sourdough starters long forgotten. But, scattered across the city, a handful of passionate and talented bakers are still working their craft—though you’d never know it from street level. While some have levelled-up to physical storefronts, most still work out of their apartment kitchens, taking orders off of Instagram or popping up at local bars, cafés and farmers’ markets for one-day sales. This ephemerality can make them hard to find, so we’ve tracked down some of the city’s finest micro-bakeries, from those still toiling in condo-sized kitchens to the lucky few who have recently made the leap into brick-and-mortar stores.

Seven of Toronto's best new microbakeries
Photo courtesy of Bad Attitude Bread

1 Vegan mastermind Logan Dunn launched his bakery after working shifts at Bunner’s and Honey’s Ice Cream, each known for their plant-based treats. At Bad Attitude Bread, Dunn does the impossible by producing flaky, buttery European-style pastries without ever involving a single cow—or goat or sheep—in the process. Since becoming a word-of-mouth sensation for his pop-ups in 2020, Dunn locked down a physical storefront at College and Bathurst this April. Try his brioche strawberry cheesecake braid, pesto parmesan bun or cheddar bay biscuits (yes, like the Red Lobster ones—but 100 per cent vegan).

Seven of Toronto's best new microbakeries
Photo courtesy of Manal Bashir Pastry

2 Working at the ROM’s C5 restaurant as a teenager, Manal Bashir was exposed to avant garde pastry techniques earlier than most. After years at Bobbette and Belle and several wedding cake boutiques, she was gearing up to open her own shop when the pandemic scuttled her plans. So she pivoted to the web with Manal Bashir Pastry, taking online orders. Paying homage to her South Asian heritage, Bashir makes skilful use of rose, cardamom and pistachio flavours in her baking. This is exemplified by her specialty ras malai cake (pictured above), a soaked sponge with a unique finish born of an early pandemic Eid pop-up—and now a bestseller. She plans to open a physical space inside a Thornhill heritage home this fall.

Seven of Toronto's best new microbakeries
Photo courtesy of Cosmos Baking

3 Disillusioned with the digital world and craving tactile joy, Cat Yeung turned to baking—and a wood-fired oven—as a teenager. Now in their early 30s, Cat’s growing grain in their backyard, baking out of the wood-fired oven in Wychwood Barns and selling their wares at farmers’ markets (Wychwood’s on Saturdays, Sorauren Park’s on Mondays and Leslieville’s every other week). Seek out Cat’s wood-fired whole-grain donuts or their upcoming za’atar and Lebanese-style flatbreads. And be patient—those grains in their garden won’t be bread until next year.

Seven of Toronto's best new microbakeries
Photo courtesy of Wildflour Baking

4 Anya Abramczyk started cooking professionally in 2018, going on to work with pastry chefs and even doing a stint as a chocolatier. When the pandemic hit, she was working at Dreyfus and Osteria Rialto, both of which shut down temporarily. Stuck at home, she started baking for friends and family and soon found that pop-ups were easier on her merchandise than bumpy bike rides in the heat. Her goods, now a common feature at Seaton Village’s Tiny General, rotate with the seasons, but sticky buns and granola are mainstays. She’s up for a challenge too: “Tell me to make you a cake that has the personality of a Dalmatian—I love a weird prompt. And if you ask me to track down some random hard-to-find berry, I will do it.”

Seven of Toronto's best new microbakeries
Photo courtesy of @smiley.drop

5 Can a loaf of bread cure depression? Victoria native and Toronto transplant Nicole MacDougall thinks so. Her specialty Japanese milk bread “smiley loaves” shine a brilliant turmeric yellow, each one beaming a cocoa-powder grin. “You can’t be sad and negative when you cut into a bread with a smiley face in it,” she says, noting that her sales really pop in the deep dark days of winter. She also runs pretzel pop-ups at west-end bars, most recently Mama’s Liquor and Lounge in Little Portugal. Her house-made knots feature a classy take on the bar food, with both traditional and savoury vegan pretzels served alongside condiments like tangy braised cabbage, cheese sauce, vegan French onion dip, pickles and mustard. It’s enough to put a smile on anyone’s face.

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Seven of Toronto's best new microbakeries
Photo courtesy of Reverie Deli

6 Reverie Deli is Michelle Ashurov’s surreal and experimental take on classic delicatessen offerings. TMU graduate of architecture, Ashurov treats each cake as a custom product, bending the rules to fit the whims of her clients. “I wanted to eradicate all the things that bring us down creatively when we’re making food,” she says—an attitude that shines through in her creations: an espresso chocolate chiffon cake in the shape of Baby Yoda’s head; a celebration of corn soaked in corn syrup, lemon and cashews; a cheese lover’s birthday cake with Château de Bourgogne rippled through a whipped cream filling; and her current menu feature, a French Toast Crunch brown chiffon cake soaked in espresso, bursting with maple and butter flavours and topped with a crisp spiced buckwheat crumble.

Seven of Toronto's best new microbakeries
Photo courtesy of Tahwski

7 Sam Hatoski’s baroque cakes are a sight to behold. Their maximalist creations are adorned with brilliant colours, cascades of caramel, looping garlands of icing, and the occasional twig, flower or feather. A professional with a master’s in public policy, Hatoski (it’s pronounced Tahwski, hence the name of the business) came to the art without formal training, instead receiving mentorship from an international community of home bakers. Favouring spontaneity, they aim for “playfulness, imperfection, maximalism and a bit of queerness” in their designs. Their menu is constantly shifting, but for now, they offer six options, including a melon spice cake with anise- and fennel-flavoured sponge soaked in cantaloupe simple syrup and a morning coffee cake with roasted walnut, Vietnamese cinnamon and espresso oat milk.

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