Toronto’s top five loaves
Loaf lovers are seeking out breads with character at indie bakeries.
1. ALSATIAN SOURDOUGH
With a crisp crust, chewy crumb and superior tang, Petite Thuet’s peerless sourdough has it all. Chef Marc Thuet’s secret? A family recipe that calls for organic flour and a 200‑year-old sourdough starter smuggled from his native Alsace. $6.50. 1 King St. W. (at Yonge), 416-867-7977; plus two other GTA locations.
Best known for her pastries, Lesley Mattina, owner of OMG Baked Goodness, also bakes regal rounds of focaccia glistening with garlic oil and crunchy with sea salt. They’re so good that Dundas West it spot Enoteca Sociale down the street orders them daily for its bread baskets. $4.50. 1561 Dundas St. W. (at Sheridan Ave.), 647-348-5664.
As head baker at Célestin, Paris-born Marc Thobor built a loyal baguette following. At Thobors, his Davisville boulangerie and café, these light, not-too-chewy spears are baked fresh throughout the day and come in a quartet of flavours (plain, poppy seed, sesame and seven-grain). $2.35. 627 Mount Pleasant Rd. (at Manor Rd. E.), 416-544-1733.
4. PORTUGUESE CORNBREAD
Bearing zero resemblance to its American cousin, dense Portuguese broa gets a natural sweetness from fine cornmeal. The round loaves from Venezia, the classic bakery on Ossington, edge out the competition with their crisp, crackling crust. Slices are best dipped in Iberian olive oil or toasted and spread with Nutella. Medium $1.65, large $2.65. 114 Ossington Ave., 416-537-2914.
This dense, moist whole wheat–rye loaf cries out for a smear of sweet butter. Epi Breads bakes the Gallic specialty (which looks like something that came out of a medieval oven) in rounds weighing three pounds each. They’re available by the half, but loyal fans have no trouble devouring the entire loaf. Whole $9.95, half $5.95. 1526 Bayview Ave. (at Millwood Rd.), 416-488-1952.
15 thoughts on “Toronto’s top five loaves”
I also really love the multi-grain loaf, challah, multi-grain paninis and white, c ‘hamburger’ buns (fabulous for sandwiches, also split and toasted) at Cozy Cafe at Woodbine and Danforth. Likewise the soft sourdough white at Celena’s, just slightly west of Woodbine.
What about Dimpflmeier? Their 10 lb Holzofen Art Brot – The Real Stone Bread loaf (fresh & warm) is still a quintessential Toronto treat. I have friends from Chicago that insist on going there on every visit to T.O.
How about the black olive cilantro bread at St. John’s Bakery?
Isn’t Epi Bread connected to the Epi Bread US chain? Does that meet the definition of an “Indie Bakery”?
Epi breads is not part of a chain, they are artesian bakers who put their heart and soul into their products. I have been eating their breads for years now and know many of the bakers there.
St. John’s bakery “Country Rye”! Organic sourdough rye, a blend of organic whole wheat and rye flours; perfect heft, perfect crumb, perfect crust. Not sour, nothing unnecessary like sugar, caramel, colour, whey powder or preservatives which even Dimpflmeier sometimes uses (although I have to agree with Andrew on the Holzofen Art Brot). I grew up eating rye bread in Montreal, and St. John’s Bakery is simply the best.
Thanks for the article – got ideas for things to try! But St. John’s Bakery deserved a spot.
Overall I like your “best of lists”. However, you are oh-so focused on your little pond. Your “best off” basically reach as far as your traveling route, the “known names” and very little discovery, as if nothing grows north of Eglinton. I am hoping for a wider search and meaningful discoveries.
Have to agree with Yoram re the “little pond” syndrome. Not only do you regularly snub anything north of Eglinton, but you also consistently ignore the east end of the city too. Hence the omission of St. John’s Bakery, which is arguably one of the very best bread bakeries in the city.
Here’s one that flies under the radar: The delicious baguette at Ezra’s Pound (baked fresh daily at the Dupont Cafe).
My top 5, in no particular order:
1. St. John’s English muffins, great for making eggs benny at home or enjoying with preserves.
2. Petit Thuet’s bread with wine must, absolutely amazing with cheeses.
3. Pancho’s Bakery bolillos, for sandwiches and hot dogs.
4. Epi hamburger buns, the same ones Nota Bene uses for their burger!
5. Challah from Harbord Bakery, essential for my French toast or grilled cheese.
Thanks for the great list – and OMG’s focaccia is out of this world
I heard if you mention toronto life top five loaves you receive a free loaf just ask for the head baker.
thats at epi breads
Nice to see so many different opinions about bread, the staff of life and our most noble food.
Since I am an east-ender, here is a link to a place out our way…
On behalf of the etnire Nashoba staff, thank you for your post! We strive to produce high quality, delicious breads and prepared foods, and it’s great to hear we’ve made a customer happy. Come visit us again soon!
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