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7 Bakeries that will Satisfy your Holiday Sweet Tooth

7 Bakeries that will Satisfy your Holiday Sweet Tooth7 Bakeries that will Satisfy your Holiday Sweet Tooth

Holiday cookies from Flour Co. (Photo: Erin Helmond)

BY ANDREW COPPOLINO | DECEMBER 2021

Cinnamon, chocolate, peppermint, marshmallow, gingerbread and anything that has to do with candy cane: it’s time for seasonal baking once again. While there are too many bakeries in the cities and townships to list, here are a few samples to get your holiday sweet-eating started.

(Please also see our previously published story Foods that Celebrate All Holidays that features festival and holiday baking by Ambrosia Corner Bakery and Sweets by Merav.)

El Antojo Bakery & Cafe Kitchener

This time of the year can be characterized, in part at least, by snacking. So here’s a way to snack the Colombian way: visit Antojo Bakery near Eastwood Collegiate in Kitchener.

That casual, capricious snack, whether needed or not, is pure joy satisfying a whimsical food craving that’s captured in the Spanish colloquialism, “antojo.” However, at the holiday time, the snacks are more formally baked for the season.

You’ll find buñuelos, a fried dough, sometimes flavoured with anise and given sweet topping; they are traditionally prepared at Christmas, Ramadan and sometimes at Hanukkah.

Antojo also has traditional holiday pandebono, made from cassava flour, and sometimes with guava jam and enjoyed with a cup of hot chocolate, along with almojábana, another type of cheese bread.

 

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The Flour Co. Bakeshop Kitchener  

The special treats at Flour Co. Bakeshop, located in the “Central Fred” neighbourhood of Kitchener hit the trifecta, according to Flour Co. owner-baker Erin Helmond.

“My main focus for goodies this year is sugar cookies, gourmet marshmallows and hot cocoa bombs,” Helmond says. “The sugar cookies are one of my most special items because the recipe is my great-grandmother’s, and I grew up baking and decorating them every Christmas with her. They’re a holiday staple.” (A sidebar note: Helmond’s great-grandparents owned “The Christmas House” in Uptown Waterloo for more than 75 years.)

Flour Co.’s marshmallows were a huge hit last year, according to Helmond. “They are a great addition to both hot chocolate, or coffee. My favourite is a classic vanilla bean ’mallow in a hot coffee. It tastes like a vanilla latte!” she says.

Look for vanilla bean, Grinch vanilla (green with pink hearts), cotton candy, and candy cane flavours at the store on Frederick and Simeon Street. The Cocoa Bombs are a new addition this year, Helmond says.

“With the marshmallows such a hit last year, people were asking for bombs to accompany them, so I took the plunge this year and added some fun flavours to the menu,” she says.

Those flavours include classic chocolate, white chocolate, white chocolate cotton candy, candy cane, and Grinch, which is white chocolate flavour with green colouring and Grinch marshmallows.

 

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CE Food Experience Waterloo 

Visit the CE Food Experience Facebook page for a list of their December and holiday goods, including gluten-free treats (manager Kate Welsh reminds that GF sweets need to be pre-ordered). Their baked goods can be nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free and vegan – or any combination thereof.

“During the lockdown last year, we were super busy,” says Welsh. “This community really supported us and we were busier than ever. We’re anticipating that level again this year.”

There is a nice list of holiday cupcakes and sugar cookies to choose from. They also offer up unique holiday offerings.

“We are running a feature do-it-yourself ‘ugly sweater’ gingerbread-person decorating kit. It includes our vegan gingerbread people, royal icing and a funky fun mix of sprinkles and mixed sugar, so you can create your own characteristics,” according to CE owner-baker Cecilia Smith.

 

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Tiny Cakes Cambridge

For Jen Gralec, co-owner with her partner Arthur Gralec, the holiday season is special, whether you’re baking or not.

“It means comfort and sharing traditions that only come at this time of the year,” Gralec says adding that what bakers do is create the aromas that inspire our senses.

To satisfy a couple of those senses, they will be preparing their “bliss” bars: it’s a hybrid cookie-brownie with a foregrounding of tart cranberry, along white chocolate and a mild orange flavour profile. “It’s the fourth year that we’ve made this popular seasonal sweet,” she says.

Tiny Cakes will also be baking, in this their 11th year, their traditional Christmas tree-shaped gingerbread with royal icing and sprinkles that represent the tree decorations. “We’ll also have sugar cookies shaped like snowflakes, mittens and stockings,” Gralec says. “It’s always a fun time of the year to bake.”

 

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Dyer Sweets Elmira

Self-taught baker Courtney Dyer has been baking professionally in the region for nearly 15 years. After a time in Belmont Village, she’s had Dyer Sweets in Elmira for two years. This holiday season, the bakery and gift emporium, featuring local producers, is making sugar cookies, cupcakes, cheesecakes and chocolate bark with festive themed toppings and seasonal decorations (gluten-free baking is available as a pre-order).

“This time of the year is our busiest time. We look forward to serving our local customers and regulars as well as those from outside Elmira who come to visit us,” Dyer says.

 

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The Healthy Owl Bakery Café Waterloo  

Look to The Healthy Owl in north Waterloo for wisdom when it comes to muffins, scones, cookies, squares and bars that are baked fresh in-house. Owner Lora-Lee Lawson says that seasonal baking ramps up. “We are usually much busier at the end of November and into December, and we’re hoping especially more so this year,” she says.

Special Healthy Owl seasonal baking will include what Lawson calls a healthier version of a sugar cookie. “It’s a large snowflake sugar cookie about five inches by five inches but with a lot less sugar. Some lemon zest gives it a boost of flavour. We will also have our gingerbread muffin too.”

CS Baked Goods Kitchener 

A graduate of Niagara College’s baking and pastry program, Cassie Shantz has baked in the area professionally for several years; in February, 2021, she opened CS Baked Goods.

Shantz is offering advent calendars with her chocolate work as well as cookie plates that feature shortbread and gingerbread, two seasonal classics. However, there is an emphasis on a more “interactive” seasonal treat such as hot chocolate “bombs,” which are spherical chocolate shells packed with hot chocolate powder and her home-made marshmallow.

“Drop them into warm milk or water. The chocolate shell melts and you’ve got a hot chocolate drink,” says Shantz.

Other interactive sweets are kits for building your own gingerbread house and for decorating cookies. Shantz says that these are baked goods that encourage family-time together – a significant portion of what a holiday represents.

“I just love festive times of the year, and it’s why I create build-your-own baking. It helps bring family together,” she says.

In year where we’re slowly coming out of a pandemic, that is going to be sweeter than ever.

 

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Andrew Coppolino is a writer-broadcaster, and is a food columnist with CBC Radio in Waterloo Region. Following a stint as a cook at a restaurant in Kitchener, Andrew chose to work with food from the other side of the kitchen pass. As a food writer, he is dedicated to promoting and nurturing culinary businesses and advocating for local chefs and restaurants. Andrew’s work has been published in newspapers and magazines across Canada, the United States and England. Follow him on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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