During the holiday season, home kitchens all across the region were once busy with family cookie baking, frosting Yule Logs and soaking fruitcakes. But today, there are so many irresistible, edible treats made with care by artisan bakers using high quality, local ingredients and baked fresh daily. Why not take some of the pressure off and outsource your baking to a local small business this year?
“We use unbleached flour, sugar, and eggs from a local farm, and all of our dairy products come from Kawartha Dairy.” says Karen Fasulo, owner of Treat Yourself in Newmarket. Treat Yourself also caters to unique dietary needs, offering gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free treats, saving families from the inconvenience of filling their cupboards with these specialized ingredients. They sell holiday trays with a variety of cookies, which can be picked up during flexible hours, even stored in the freezer if needed, and ready to serve when it comes time to entertain.
Whether you want to fill your home with sweet treats for the holidays or gift edible treats, small independent bakeshops are baking up a gourmet difference you can taste. “Everything is hand-crafted from scratch, and made on-site daily at the bakery, so you know what you’re getting is fresh,” says Megan Fisher, co-owner of Nutmeg Bakeshop in Newmarket. Nutmeg offers unique naked cakes, which are unfrosted on the sides, allowing you to see all of the layers within. They also specialize in pastries, including sourdough made without commercial yeast, meaning it involves a long fermentation for an added depth of flavour.
If it’s ginger snaps you’re after this holiday season, you’ll want to head over to Treat Yourself. “Our ginger snap is to die for,” says Fasulo. “It’s nice and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, and not too gingery. We have people that line up just for our ginger snap cookies.”
The bakery also sells customized ginger bread houses. They’ve even made ginger bread barns for families living in the countryside. “We’re more specialty-focused, so we can customize your order to give you that unique piece no one else will have,” Fisher says.
At Simply Yummy in Aurora, the biggest seller is the peanut butter ball, featuring peanut butter rolled up in Rice Krispies and dipped in chocolate. Simply Yummy does a large amount of business during the five to six weeks leading up to the holidays, reinforcing the trend that more people are finding trusted sources to do their holiday baking.
“We use better ingredients than the grocery stores,” says Megan Flynn, owner at Simply Yummy. “It’s a little more expensive, but you’re receiving higher quality.”
Not to mention, you’re supporting a local business. “When you shop locally, you’re not just helping corporations, you’re supporting a family,” Flynn says.
Fisher agrees. Nutmeg Bakery opened in November 2014 on Main Street, and has received a lot of support from the local businesses nearby. “It’s great to see your neighbours succeed,” she says.
“It’s so nice to be supported by the people around you,” says Fasulo at Treat Yourself. “It helps to enable a local small business have a happy Christmas too.”
This holiday season explore the trend and outsource some of your baking. Pick up a small box of carrot pumpkin whoopee pies for the teens on your gift list, and a buttery rich Yule Log to centre the table. Put out some gourmet sipping chocolate with a promise of ice skating for the kids, and as always, a tray of delicious cookies to make your home a welcoming place during the holidays.
By Lynn Ogryzlo and Charlotte Ottaway