Toronto’s Best Patisseries
By Elli Davis, May 9, 2012
Cakes by Destination Europe
Those who have a sweet tooth will probably agree with me that while chocolate is fantastic, it cannot always satisfy our taste buds. Something a little fancier, like a delicious cake or a cute cupcake, is necessary from time to time. Toronto is, luckily, not short of places where you can go and get unbelievably good cakes and cupcakes. In this article, I want to present a short guide to these heavenly places. I should warn you, however, that you might feel an urgent need to eat something sweet after you are done with reading this article — just as I did when I was writing it!
Before I start talking about something, I like to explain its history. If I am to speak about the places that offer fantastic cakes and cupcakes, I feel the need to briefly describe how and where these tasty treats originated and developed over the centuries.
Today, we are familiar with hundreds, if not thousands, of delicious cakes. Everybody has their favourites and the possibilities with baking are endless. It has not always been so, however. For a long time, cakes were considered a symbol of wealth. Amazingly enough, the roots of cakes go back about 2,000 years, but it is difficult to determine the exact date, as it is not quite clear what can actually be classified as a cake. According to archaeologists, cakes in Neolithic villages were similar to the oat or corn cakes we know today. Cakes at those times were made from crushed grains which were then moistened and cooked.
The very first official word for cake (usually made of nuts and honey) was the Greek “plakous,” which meant “flat”. Another larger and heavier type of cake was called “satura” by the Greeks. The term “cake” is of Anglo-Saxon origin and for a long time, it was most likely used for the smaller breads. The crucial ingredient that first made cake as we know them possible was, unsurprisingly, flour. In the 19th century, after the Industrial Revolution, baking ingredients became widely available and thus the popularity of cakes rose noticeably. It was in the 20th century when cakes became more complicated with the ever-widening variety of cake ingredients. The last century also brought a fantastic invention to make baking easier: boxed cake mix. Baking has never been simpler!
Cupcakes by Frederic Bisson
Cupcakes were a revolutionary development in the world of baking. This type of a cake was born in the U.S. in the 19th century, and its main advantage was the amazing amount of time saved in the actual baking. The time a cake had to be in the oven declined significantly, and no more careful weighing out of ingredients was necessary; everything was now measured out by cups, which was a lot easier.
Cupcakes gained popularity very quickly, but it is not quite clear where their name comes from. It is very possible that before muffin tins were developed, cupcakes were bakes in cups. The reason they are called cupcakes might also come from the fact they are measured out by cups. Nowadays you can easily bake them yourself at home; there are thousands of good recipes. If you do not like baking a number of bakeries offer a huge variety of, and some bakeries even specialize in, these cakes.
Benefits of Eating Cake
Sweets certainly are not part of a healthy lifestyle, according to many. Luckily for those who really cannot imagine their lives without sweets and cakes, the reality is not actually that bad.
Macarons by ShironekoEuro
According to a study conducted by a number of universities, eating cakes and cupcakes for breakfast can actually be beneficial. The research showed that those who start their day with a breakfast high in carbohydrates and protein (including something sweet), were able to stay in shape a lot better than those who preferred low-calorie and low-carb breakfast with no sweets. Eating a cake or a cupcake for breakfast should give us a lot of energy and prevent us from eating too much candy during the day.
Furthermore, it is a well known fact that dark chocolate, if eaten in reasonable amounts, is good for your health. Fruits and nuts cannot do much harm either. Everything depends on the type of a cake you bake or buy. Choose one without too much cream and you should be fine. If you are really health-conscious, you can try cakes made from organic, whole-grain flour and sweetened with honey. Nowadays, healthy versions of many cakes or cupcakes are quite common. One piece of regular cake or a cupcake will not cause any damage to your body, however.
It is not very wise to ignore the signals your body is sending you; if you desperately want a cupcake or a piece of cake, get one. You will feel unhappy and frustrated if you do not satisfy your cravings now and again. Depriving yourself of things you enjoy can very easily contribute to depression. Obviously, you should not eat ten cupcakes a day, but in general, it is perfectly fine to enjoy cakes and cupcakes occasionally.
Get a Cake/Cupcake in Toronto!
For the Love of Cake
171 East Liberty St.
Ladies, and especially gentlemen, you are going to love this place! According to the owners of this magical shop, only the highest quality ingredients are used in their products. Every cake is made individually, and the amount of attention paid to each of them shows. You can get a delicious 9″ round blueberry or strawberry cheesecake for $23.99. Cakes for parties or weddings are also offered. Visit the shop and discuss your ideas with the designer.
Believe it or not, the Love of Cake offers the largest cupcake flavour selection in Toronto. Customers can choose from more than 20 cupcake flavours every day. Relatively classical flavours, including Death by Chocolate, Very Vanilla, and Crazy Carrot, are not going to disappoint anyone, but as this shop is known for not-so-typical flavours, such as S’mores. All cupcakes are typically sold for $2.50.
For the Love of Cake also offers two specialties. The first one is a so-called Mancake, which all the men are going to appreciate. The idea behind a mancake is simple: cupcakes are very girly, so it would be perfect to make something from man-worthy ingredients. Guinness Chocolate (with Guinness beer and Irish whiskey) or Maple Bacon (yes, with maple and bacon) cupcakes, each for $3, would please almost any guy, I think. The second unique offer of this shop is the four-dimensional cupcake. Are you wondering what the four dimensions are? They are the cake, the filling, the topping, and the garnish. Pure heaven.
Bobette & Belle
1121 Queen St. East
The first thought of anyone walking into Bobbette & Belle’s Toronto-based pastry shop must be, “This is huge!” I would bet that, “I love it,” is the second. Thanks to using only the highest quality ingredients (such as Lindt chocolate, Boiron fruit purées imported from France, and Nielsen-Massey’s pure Madagascar vanilla) Bobbette & Belle undeniably belongs among the best shops selling fancy cakes and cupcakes in Toronto.
The variety of cakes and cupcakes at Bobbette & Belle’s is amazing. Pastry Shop Cupcakes in typical flavours, including chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, and strawberry will not disappoint. For those who would like something more adventurous, flavours such as mango, cookies and cream, apple spice, or peanut butter are available as well. Pastry Shop Cupcakes are sold for around $2.95 each. For special events, I would suggest you purchase a couple of decorative cupcakes, which are classic cupcakes with handmade sugar decorations of your choice. Their prices range from $1.75 to $5.50, and they sure are worth it!
Bobbette & Belle also offers several types of cakes: you choose the flavour and the size, but make sure to do it in time — at least 24 hours in advance. Might I suggest trying Apple Maple Spice, Salted Caramel, or the Red Velvet Cake. I love the fact that at Bobbette and Belle you can either take your items to go or sit down, have a cup of good coffee or hot chocolate, and slowly enjoy your freshly baked treats. For those who cannot get away from their computers, free Wi-Fi is available.
Bunner’s Bake Shop
3054 Dundas St. West
Let’s not forget about vegans and about those who are gluten intolerant. Luckily enough, in Toronto you can find everything — including delicious gluten-free and vegan cakes and cupcakes. The Bunner’s Bake Shop is the first walk-in retail bakery in our city that offers a fantastic variety of these products. To the great delight of many of Toronto inhabitants, Ashley Wittig and Kevin MacAllister realized they had to open a shop after their baked goodies received enormously positive response at local farmers markets.
All the cakes and cupcakes at Bunner’s Bake Shop are made from “highest integrity, fair-trade, organic and local whenever possible” ingredients. Agave nectar is used as a sweetener, which is good news for those with diabetes. Cupcakes are about $3.50 each, and you can pick from a number of flavours, including the classics such as vanilla and chocolate, refreshing lemon or carrot, as well as interesting varieties such as the French Toast cupcake that will satisfy all the cinnamon and maple syrup lovers.
You can also buy cakes at this lovely little shop, but they must be ordered at least 24 hours before you pick them up. A cake for about ten people will cost you $33.50 and you can get a cake twice as big for $65.00. Choose your favourite flavour: vanilla, chocolate, or red velvet with Bunner’s Bake Shop’s signature vanilla frosting. Lemon and carrot cakes are offered. If you have no time to visit personally, it is not a problem: the shop also provides deliveries across the city for a flat rate of $12.00.
The Cupcake Shoppe
2417 Yonge St.
This shop should win a prize for the most original cupcake names. There is a lot more to these sweet treats than just their name, however. Using the freshest and finest ingredients possible, Toronto’s first cupcake bakery offers its customers 17 amazing nut-free cupcake flavours, nine of which are available in-store every single day.
Choose a cupcake based purely on its name and let The Cupcake Shoppe surprise you! Can you imagine what Pink, Yonge n’ Eligible, Sleepless in Toronto, After Ate, or James Brown taste like? You can always ask one of the pleasant staff members, however, each of these cupcakes are delicious, so any surprise will be a good one! Their prices are great too; one cupcake will cost you around $2.65. Cakes are also available; the shop will gladly accomodate your wishes for different sizes and flavours.
Cake Opera Co.
1136 Eglinton Ave. West
If you are in the mood for a truly lavish cake, there is no better place in Toronto to visit than Cake Opera Co. It was founded in 2007 by an amazing artist and Ontario College of Art and Design graduate, Alexandria Pellegrino. Since then, Pellegrino has been widely praised as “one of the industry’s leading cake designers.” Together with a brilliant pastry chef, Jessica Smith, they are perhaps one of the best duos in the world of cakes and cupcakes.
There is nothing boring about cakes and cupcakes from Cake Opera Co. Every single one of them seems too pretty to eat. You would regret not trying them, however; I can tell you that they taste just as fantastic as they look. These little pieces of heaven are hiding behind names such as The Carmen, The Lady Pompadour, and the Queen of the Night. If I were to summarize this place in one word (the names, the style, the appearance, and the taste), it would definitely be fancy. The cakes and cupcakes here may be a little more costly than elsewhere, but they are 100 per cent worth it. As the website of this fantastic shop states, “Nicole Richie could have hired anyone to make her wedding cake. She chose Toronto’s Cake Opera Co.”