Sort-of Secret: Cry Baby Cakes, an online bakery run by the former pastry chef of Quatrefoil and La Banane
A series that shines a spotlight on the city’s hidden edible gems
The sort-of secret: Cry Baby Cakes, an Insta-bakery run by pastry chef Brooke Cowitz
You may have heard of it if: You were searching Instagram for last-minute Valentine’s Day sweet treats
But you probably haven’t tried it because: Until this week, Cowitz was making orders by request; she just released her full, official menu on February 16
There are plenty of food pop-ups and secret menus in the city right now, but not many that cater specifically—and exclusively—to sweet-toothed diners. Enter Cry Baby Cakes, the brainchild of pastry chef Brooke Cowitz, which specializes in stylish, unconventional confections.
Cowitz is a graduate of Niagara College’s culinary program, and cut her cake teeth as the pastry chef at Quatrefoil, in Dundas, then later working in La Banane’s kitchen. When the pandemic hit, she’d been making a living as a private pastry chef, whipping up cakes and other sweets for events and corporate functions. “Everyone in my family had been telling me to start a little business,” Cowitz said, adding that the sheer volume of culinary-minded folks who’ve begun selling stuff out of their home kitchens actually discouraged her at first. “All I did was start up an Instagram page saying I make cake. And I’ve been getting messages non-stop.”
Cry Baby Cakes’ late January launch was well-timed: Cowitz was able to capitalize on the heightened demand for novelty sweets that hits in the days leading up to February 14, offering a Valentine’s Day box that included macarons, chocolate-covered strawberries, coconut macaroons and dessert bars. She sold all 54 boxes within a day.
Cry Baby Cakes’ HQ is Cowitz’s Etobicoke kitchen, where she says she’s usually up baking until 3 a.m., assisted in part by her mother and grandmother. Her specialty is cheesecake: Customers can choose between classic New York style, cookies-and-cream, tiramisu and brown-sugar boba. There are seasonal flavours, too, but those are TBD. The cake menu, showcases a bit more of Cowitz’s penchant for whimsy: That Salty Bitch is three layers of almond meringue with vanilla cream and toasted almond brittle, and 3,000 Miles to Graceland layers fresh banana slices and cream cheese frosting atop a peanut butter sponge.
She’s also got a penchant for outside-the-box cake-decorating: her colourful Cartoons and Cereal cake is dotted with Fruity Pebbles and intricately piped icing borders, thanks to Cowitz’s admittedly enormous collection of baking gear. “My kitchen is bursting,” she says. “I’m actually looking to rent space to make my cakes, mostly because I don’t have room for all my stuff.”
While Cry Baby Cakes has a set menu, with cakes starting at $65, Cowitz says she’s always open to custom orders. Her macarons, meringues, cupcakes and other confections are always available; interested parties just need to slide into her DMs. She does have one hard limitation: “I don’t do fondant,” she says. “Unless it’s a couple of letters or flowers or something. Respectfully: absolutely no fondant.”