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Baked Goods

ps by Pretty Sweet

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / Posted on February 13, 2013

pretty sweet boutique torontops by Pretty Sweet is a bit hard to find--those expecting a typical boxy storefront will be surprised by its location in a walk-up house, with the trio of simple but elegant three-tier cakes in the front window serving as its only sign, for now. It's an aesthetic that suits owner and baker Adjoa Duncan just fine: "This store is, literally, everything I am," she says, smiling.

ps pretty sweet torontops is Duncan's first retail storefront, and just a week into its operation, the only things missing are a few stools for sit-down snacking by the front counter. The location is a clear coup, with that mostly residential stretch of King West being largely devoid of pastry shops. Everything is made in-house and from scratch, including the graham crackers for the soon-to-be-added cheesecake's graham crust.

ps pretty sweet torontoNostalgia is carried through from the bring-you-back-to-your-childhood selection of baked goods, to the shop's--there's no other word for it--precious interior.

Almost resembling a young girl's notion of a French patisserie with its soft pink walls, antique framed mirrors (sourced from Duncan's house), white wood accents, and bold pink napkins and pastry boxes, perhaps the most whimsical element is its lighting--hanging bulbs are enclosed in metal whisk-shaped enclosures, and a makeshift chandeliers twinkles with hanging cutlery rather than jewels.

ps pretty sweet torontops was born out of Duncan's long-time custom cake business, Pretty Sweet. From its inception, the tagline was "Create your own indulgence," a mantra that's instantly evident in Duncan's sunny, accommodating disposition. With my own impending nuptials on my mind, we chat about custom wedding cakes, and I'm instantly put at ease by a throwaway quote that seems to encapsulate her philosophy: "I never bake when I'm angry; can you imagine having your first bite of wedding cake and someone was pissed off as they baked it?"

ps pretty sweet torontoDuncan's love affair with baking started when she was just 15 and has taken her from the restaurants of London, to Splendido, to George Brown (where she realized flour was the smell she missed). She came into her own while working at now-defunct vintage shop Paper Bag Princess during the day: "It was all about where things come from, which is my style of baking. It's like putting on a vintage dress; it brings you back." She began baking cakes for friends' events, and the follow-up requests snowballed, leading her to start Pretty Sweet in 2008.

Duncan has fostered long-term relationships with her clients, and her creations range from simple round cakes to birthday cakes that tasted like apple pie, or were shaped like Tigger or taxi cabs.

ps pretty sweet torontoGiven her years of experience, I expect elaborate cakes to fill the consummately girly shop, but I'm surprised (and pleased) to find humble, homestyle baked goods spanning the counter. Cupcakes ($2.75) and cakes are sour-cream based, although the chocolate chunk cookies ($1.75) have been a clear best-seller, and for good reason--they're crunchier on the edges than I prefer, but moist and speckled generously with large chunks of not-too-sweet chocolate on the inside.

The cupcakes are sold out when I stop by, but I also sample a blondie and butter tart. The butter tart especially benefits from its thin but crispy pastry shell, letting the rich, thick filling shine through. The blondie is more similar to cake than brownies in consistency, but delicious nonetheless.

ps pretty sweet torontoThe prices are reasonable as well, with 6" cakes coming in at $23 (the feature flavour of the month is chocolate strawberry), although ordering them custom will likely come with a price hike. Duncan has been known to deliver last-minute orders, but ordering up to a week in advance is preferable.

ps pretty sweet torontoCheesecakes and mousses costing $4.50, although they come in mason jars, and reusing the jar will grant you a discount. Teas from Tealish from simple earl gray to pomegranate goji ($2.75), and their fair-trade organic coffee sourced from Fair Grounds is $2.50 for an americano or $3 for a latte.

ps pretty sweet torontoI can't help but ask whether Duncan will test the waters with hot-item bakery items like donuts or macarons, but she humbly says that there are others who specialize in that, and she prefers to focus on the things that mean most to her--"cream puffs might not be a part of everyone's childhood, but they were a part of mine," she says.

Discussion

27 Comments

Pope / February 13, 2013 at 09:39 am
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Congrats Adjoa! Looks amazing! Can't wait to see it in person...
hmmm / February 13, 2013 at 09:47 am
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i'm so hungry right now.
Really? / February 13, 2013 at 11:03 am
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Is that cake supposed to be a demo of something they are proud of?? It looks like a small child did it. It is sloppy and painful to look at if you know anything at all about cake decorating.
sarah / February 13, 2013 at 11:13 am
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can't wait to stop by!
MrsP / February 13, 2013 at 11:20 am
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that stuff doesn't look so good. :-/

lopsided cake, with a flattened out dull looking rotten cupcake on top? YUM!??! (hahahaha)
Ekua Mensah / February 13, 2013 at 03:09 pm
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Amazing! I can't wait to walk in and leave with a good supply of treats. I love that your cakes and tarts look just like they are supposed to and not out of an assembly-line plant. Kudos, girl.
hmmm / February 13, 2013 at 03:27 pm
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The baked goods look ok but that cake is something else - and not in a good way.
Juanita K replying to a comment from Ekua Mensah / February 13, 2013 at 03:51 pm
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"cakes and tarts look just like they are supposed to" ??? Maybe after they are dropped on the floor. Get real, girl.
lol / February 13, 2013 at 04:34 pm
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LoL. These comments are hilarious! I feel bad for the store owner...maybe its the photographer who took bad pics of the smooshed cake? :/
Dave / February 13, 2013 at 04:42 pm
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Meh. This place doesn't look every exciting.
Daaave replying to a comment from Dave / February 13, 2013 at 07:32 pm
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Duh. This place doesn't have rollercoasters. Audi 5000!
MrsP / February 13, 2013 at 08:31 pm
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hm. I just googled this company name, and found another bakery in toronto with the exact same name.

or is this the same place? i can't tell. :-/
http://prettysweetcakes.com/
http://www.facebook.com/prettysweettoronto
Jason Kucherawy / February 13, 2013 at 08:42 pm
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Adjoa's baking is delicious. I'm one of those long-time friend/customers that uses her for all of my cake needs and I'm excited that the public has a chance to experience her stuff. Looking forward to dropping by soon for a butter tart!
Kat / February 14, 2013 at 11:24 am
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Love the storefront house thing going on here. I will agree that some of the stuff doesn't look all that great (the cupcake on the cake, for instance). But let's not knock it before trying it.
Witness! / February 14, 2013 at 06:19 pm
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That cake topped by cupcake is not what you think it is! It is not meant to represent the products supplied. It is a funky display piece. Unfortunately blogto people who are always first looking for flaws were immediately drawn into that! Of course! Anyway, that aside, I can tell you the chocolate mousse and the brownies are fantastic! I found the butter tarts to personally be just ok because of the lack of filling and the too hard shell. She has been open 3 days! Give it a break Blogto bashers!
Ekua Mensah / February 14, 2013 at 06:22 pm
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@ J.K. Why don't you open your own shop & we'll judge you too.
Li_zzie / February 16, 2013 at 08:50 am
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Just love this store. Stopped by the other day and picked up a selection of goodies, thinking it would last my family for days. All vanished by the next morning! Deelish. Good luck to you! It's hard to start a new business venture. I'm sure you will do well.
Kelli / February 17, 2013 at 03:53 pm
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I walked in and eventhough the place is cute and the person was friendly, I didn't get that legit professional business vibe. I did buy cookies and they were hard as rock. No way they were baked that day! I'll stick to Nadege and Dlish Cupcakes where you can see everything being made in their kitchen and smell the freshness too.
Angela / February 19, 2013 at 08:45 pm
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We used "ps by prettysweet" for our wedding in August 2012. Adjoa was a pleasure to work with, and our cupcakes were amazing! Congratulations on the new location. We can't wait to come see it!!! @psbyprettysweet
Jen / March 2, 2013 at 04:21 pm
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Congrats Adjoa. After trying your amazing cake pops, can't wait to try the rest!
Crystal / March 4, 2013 at 11:31 am
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Adjoa's creations are delicious. I've eaten cupcakes at many of the "best" cupcake shops in the city and none of them compare to the flavour, freshness and light icing Adjoa tops her cakes and cupcakes with. Perhaps actually tasting something she's made instead of ripping her apart based on a photo taken by a writer and not a photographer is a thought.
Rachel / March 4, 2013 at 08:23 pm
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Looks like all the positive comments here are written by friends... I went in to this place and bought a couple treats. The choc chip cookie was hard as a rock and service was unprofessional. Nothing new at this place, more like a rip of the othe cafe's and pastry shops in the area. P.S. lose the attitude behind the counter.
Zeaky / March 5, 2013 at 06:37 am
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So awesome! I pray this new business is successful!
Mel / March 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm
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I thought I'd support a new local business but the girl behind the counter was not very friendly and when I asked her if the tarts were baked that day she replied "they were baked the other day". Asked about the cookies and was told they bake them twice a week. For the prices they charge I expect freshness. This place will not survive especially with all the REAL BAKERIES up the street on Queen.
Lucia / April 18, 2013 at 12:00 pm
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I absolutely love Adjoa's sweet creations, specifically the cheesecake which is the most delicious one I've ever tasted. I love the brownies, butter tarts and chocolate chunk cookies which are sweet n salty, with a crunchy exterior and soft interior. The blondies are awesome too. Plus Adjoa herself is extremely friendly and charismatic. She makes you feel welcome from the first time you step foot into her lovely establishment. The decor is super cute n girly. I'm so happy that there is now a seating area and I can bring my friends to savour a nice homemade dessert and a cup of tea or coffee. Give it a try. You won't be disappointed!
Kim / June 9, 2013 at 12:41 am
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Sorry but this place sucks. They are trying really hard to look fancy maybe to justify their high prices? I bought a cookie and it was not fresh. I've had better tasting cookies at Loblaws.
geo / September 14, 2013 at 10:53 pm
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One word = CRAP!

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