The top 10 bakeries in Markham
The top bakeries in Markham are, surprisingly, rather multicultural. Shedding Markham's oft-quoted stereotype of being Chinatown North, these purveyors of lovely pastries (and other enemies of my thighs) reflect a wonderfully diverse cultural spectrum. You could ostensibly pick up Cantonese egg tarts, macarons, jalebis, CNE-style donuts, and a tiramisu cake in one large trip, and still never leave Markham. And the best part? They are all excellent.
Here are my picks for the top bakeries in Markham.
Beard Papa's may not look like much, and it may not even really be much of a bakery, but this unassuming spot tucked into the second floor of Pacific Mall is actually part of a popular worldwide chain headquartered in Japan. They basically serve fresh and delicious choux pastry filled with flavoured custard fillings, and you can get yourself one for just north of $2. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the green tea filling is one of the more popular ones. The best part is that, much like other Asian treats, they don't feel too heavy on the stomach after you down one.
Located in the fascinating and vastly underrated shopping complex called J-Town, Bakery Nakamura prepares many Western-style baked goods with a Japanese twist. Case in point: the surprisingly light Rare Cheesecake (which is a stark contrast to the food-coma-inducing Western variety that I'm accustomed to), along with the equally light and also delicious Chocolate Mousse Cake. You can even buy the whole cake (instead of slices) for around $25 - which isn't that cheap, but worth it for the quality.
Tiny Tom Donuts
This bakery specializes in one thing, and one thing only: those addictive mini-donuts that we all love to shove down our collective gullets at the CNE. They're here year-round in all their deep-fried glory. Some people would argue that they're not as good as the ones at the Ex, but I think that's just the carnival games withdrawal talking. Available flavours include cinnamon, icing sugar, apple cinnamon, or chocolate; your waistline won't thank you, but your tastebuds will.
Yes, it looks like an ultra-boring factory from the outside. Yes, their selection is not as diverse as many of the other fancier bakeries out there. But, if you want freshly made Jamaican patties by the bucketloads, then you should just forget about everything else and go there now (after finishing this article, of course). Their pastry is practically legendary in terms of its flakiness, and the spicy beef inside is seasoned to perfection. Bonus points? The service is always friendly here, and you get free samples. Win.
Without a doubt one of the finest purveyors of old-school Canto-Western baking, Lucullus has long been responsible for feeding Markham truckloads of what may be the best Chinese egg tarts around the GTA, along with their equally rich and creamy HK-style milk teas. The parking at this Markham location can be annoying due to the prevalence of many small stores in the plaza, but it's worth the struggle to get their freshly baked breads and even their lunch specials. Don't forget their curry puffs and their pineapple bread - which, interestingly, contains no pineapple.
This little shop tucked away in First Markham Place provides lots of freshly-baked Cantonese buns and snacks, but by far, their most well-known offerings are the white sugar cake and the pudding-like put chai ko (which in itself comes in several varieties). They have the right amount of chewiness and sweetness, which is surprisingly difficult to find in most Chinese bakeries around town. The place is rather small, but the variety of cheap afternoon tea specials are always nice, though I'd probably stay away from their more Western offerings if a classic Canadian bakery experience is what you're looking for.
We in Toronto are very fortunate to have multiple shops selling South Asian baked snacks, otherwise known as mithai, and Shirin Mahal easily is among the best of the best in that category. The chain already has three locations spread around the GTA, and the Markham one is interestingly located in a plaza filled with Chinese and Vietnamese shops. Visit here for their smorgasbord of Pakistani and Indian favourites such as jalebi, halwa, or even the more Western-like cream cakes. Just make sure you have a really sweet tooth as these babies pack a mighty punch.
When it comes to Italian bakeries, this little gem can be considered one of Markham's best kept secrets. The cannoli are absolutely delightful, with several flavours being offered (the coffee one is my favourite), while the tiramisu is rich and indulgent. The whole setup feels very much like an old-school mom and pop Italian cafe, and the best part is that because many Italian dishes are essentially "baked", you can easily get full meals such as pizza and lasagna here, giving you much more than just pastries and cookies (though there's plenty of that, too).
This has long been my personal go-to bakery whenever I need a quick infusion of cupcakes and macarons in a dazzling array of flavours (which is more often than you think). The cakes are always fresh and sweet without being overwhelming. The service can be a bit hit or miss when the shop gets busy, but in general this is of your best bets to get "conventional" sweet pastries in Markham. In addition, they frequently have cake pops, which are equally delish, and also host baking classes!
Noisette Pastry Works
What is it with Markham's bakeries being located in anonymous strip plazas? While Noisette isn't very noticeable from the outside, this cute bakery is well-known for its large collection of mini sugar cookies and treats in a variety of shapes and sizes. They also sell delicious macarons and eclairs, and make custom cakes for special occasions. Don't forget their lunch specials - croissants, soups, and chilis, oh my!
Did I miss any? Add your favourite Markham bakery to the comments!
Photo of Beard Papa's by Jesse Milns.