Get to know a Baker: Tori Vaccher, Tori's Bakeshop
Tori Vaccher's lovely and eponymous bake shop, Tori's Bakeshop, is a great spot for vegan and gluten-free treats in the Beaches. A flat tire while searching for vegan marshmallows didn't stop Tori from getting back to the shop to meet with me, and talking about her baking inspirations and new creations.
Did you always want to be a baker?
No. I feel like I did but I just didn't know it. I went to an arts high school for theatre, and I really wanted to sing. I was super shy, and doing auditions just didn't work for me, so in high school I just started doing work backstage. I went into theatre production for set and prop design at Ryerson.
Where did you learn how to bake?
My grandma, I guess. I was always baking, even at a really young age. When I became vegan about seven years ago, I experimented a lot more by changing all of her recipes. Her pie dough is one of the famous ones everyone likes. When I started experimenting with it, that's when I really started to excel at baking, and I've always found it relaxing.
The rhubarb loaf we have now actually came from my grandma. She sent me a recipe and said, "Veganize it!"--so I did. I didn't even know she knew how to use a scanner.
Why did you choose this location in the Beaches?
I didn't actually start looking here. I started looking in Kensington and Queen West, but I kind of wanted to find a place where everyone could go. I wanted my grandma to be able to come and hang out, and a community that everyone felt comfortable coming to, and that's why we ended up here. Usually on the weekend we get a lot of west-enders and people from Yonge and Eglinton coming down.
Did you do a lot of research before opening the shop?
I did. I actually went to New York for a couple months, and ate a lot of food. I just took pictures of everything--what I liked and what I didn't like. I saw that a lot of bakeries had this window at the back so you could see them decorating, and I really wanted that. I want people to see where the food is coming from, especially when it comes to vegan, gluten-free, and natural ingredients. It opens things up and people are drawn back there.
Is there anything you've added to the menu since opening?
We continue to add a lot more gluten-free savoury goods. Our gluten-free items normally sell out first, so we're going to start doing gluten-free breads and regular breads. We're planning lunch-time stuff like savoury scones, with sun-dried tomato and mushroom. People are now requesting a lot more soy-free products. We've started using coconut milk for some recipes instead.
Has anything been removed from the menu?
We used to have fried doughnuts which were really popular, but then we started to do baked doughnuts. We'll probably eventually bring them back because people have been asking about them--particularly the Boston creams.
How do you decide how much to bake each day?
It was definitely trial and error at the beginning. We started out baking a lot less than we do now, and we were selling out two or three hours early. Now, we offer the day-olds for half-price, and we have them in boxes and we show people so that people can pick and choose, and mix and match boxes the way they want.
What's your favourite thing to bake?
Anything with pie dough. I love baking pies, and croissants. Anything where you can feel the texture of the dough. I like working with pastry that requires that extra bit of fine-tuning.
What lies ahead for Tori's Bakeshop?
I've thought of opening a second location in the west end but more of a hole in the wall--just a counter, coffee maker, and we'll deliver fresh baked goods every morning. The next thing I want to do is open a strictly gluten-free location, but that'll probably be in a couple years. I have to save up again so we'll probably just start out with something small. In the next couple weeks, we're going to start doing sandwiches, and I've started doing wedding cakes, so I'm making my own vegan, organic fondant.
RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS
Most underrated ingredient? Baking powder, especially in gluten-free recipes
Favourite baking tool? Wooden spoon
Cookbook of the moment? Tartine Bread, by Chad Robertson
Last baked good you ate? Cheese and chive scone for breakfast
Someone who inspires you? My mom. She's the hardest worker I know.
For more baker profiles, visit our Toronto Bakers Pinterest board.
Photos by Natta Summerky