Knead Bakery is trying to establish itself as a country bakery in the city, and so far, it seems to be doing a pretty good job. Owners Heather Levchuk and Trish Hodgson appear to know each customer by name as they stream in steadily on the afternoon I drop by to check out the shop.
Formerly a spa, the little space on Scarborough Road just north of Kingston Road has been transformed by Levchuck and Hodgson into a bakery with a home and country feel. Just a few weeks old, the window ledges are lined with rolling pins, the original wood floors have been restored giving the space a rustic charm, and the bushel baskets of breads round off the rural feel.
"This area is really a small community in a big city," Levchuk says. "So we wanted the bakery to reflect that."
And at that moment, a woman storms through the door, interrupting our conversation.
"My mom's pissed at you, Heather."
Oooh, so this is like a small town.
"I don't like cheesecake," she continues. "But I like yours. And now my mom's pissed at you because I'll eat your cheesecake but I won't eat hers!"
Ok, so maybe not exactly demonstrative of small town drama. Since Knead's has sold out of its mini cheesecakes ($3) by this point in the afternoon, the woman opts for the full cheesecake ($10) and walks out happily.
It's not unusual for some of the favourite items to be gone midday. "We've been going fast and furious," says Hodgson. "And now we're just trying to keep up with demand.
Levchuk starts her baking at two in the morning, kneading dough for her caraway rye ($5), country sourdough ($4.50) and baguettes ($2.50). She also makes breakfast brioches (fruit or bacon and cheddar, $3) and lots of treats including butter tarts ($2.50), Nanaimo bars ($2.00), and cookies ($1.25). Hodgson is the cake decorator, making custom cakes to order, and to drink there's fresh Grinder coffee available on the counter (which is actually just an antique dresser).
A sucker for anything chocolate, I try the brownie ($2.50), which is light and moist with a cheesecake swirl, mild in flavour unlike the hockey-puck, uber-rich brownies you might find at other bakeries. It is quite delicious, if only a wee-bit mild for a chocoholic like me.
Knead Bakery is planning a larger opening in coming weeks and still testing out new breads and desserts.
Photos by Dennis Marciniak