Toronto's secret new bakery makes handcrafted bread almost too pretty to eat

Pretty much everyone in Toronto got into bread during the pandemic, but one business has been handcrafting loaves that are practically art.

breadART's creations might have intricate snowman decorations on top or be designed to look like pumpkins or trees, and there are even more whimsical options like a blue swirl loaf dyed with butterfly pea flower.

"I am a self-taught baker living in Toronto. My obsession with bread all started when living abroad in Paris, France in 2015. Day after day, I ate countless baguettes fresh from my local boulangerie," Julia Hanley of breadART told blogTO.

"Upon returning home to Toronto, I wanted to replicate that fresh, flavourful taste, texture, and quality. I was inspired and determined to teach myself the foundations of bread, specifically naturally leavened bread, and have been practicing and perfecting my craft since 2015."

While for some of baking sourdough may have been a hobby to while away the hours at home, for Hanley, falling back on her baking expertise was a survival method.

"The COVID pandemic, and subsequently losing my job in the travel industry in April 2020, inspired me to turn my passion for creating artistic and artisanal sourdough bread into a small business. Baking has always been a form of self-care for me. I find it therapeutic, and rewarding to see your finished product," says Hanley.

"I began baking sourdough every day in May 2020 and safely delivering it to my close friends and family to surprise them with a 'loaf of love.' By June 2020, I had friends, acquaintances, and several local businesses reaching out wanting to order a loaf. By mid August, I had baked and delivered over 100 loaves."

The menu changes every month, and sells out quick. January's menu includes sourdough ($12), three cheese sourdough ($15), challah ($14), and cinnamon buns ($13).

"The response has been extremely positive, thanks to all my amazing supporters," says Hanley. "I typically sell out within the first week or two of each month."

It's not just breads, either: there are also options like blueberry jam, cream cheese icing and rosemary infused olive oil.

"I have always been a creative individual and breadART Toronto has given me an outlet to apply my skills. I score intricate designs on my sourdough using a bread lame (I use Wire Monkey UFO Bread Lame) and use unique shapes to turn each loaf into a piece of art," says Hanley. 

"Additionally, each month I launch a unique menu with seasonally flavoured bread and spreads, because what is toast without jam?"

Not only is Hanley a master bread and jam maker, she's also got a heart of gold, paying it forward to charitable efforts like Toronto's community fridges, donating bread and funds for produce to them. She also donated a portion of her proceeds to The Royal Canadian Legion for Remembrance Day.

Want to give blue swirl bread a try? Just DM or email to order, with free delivery on orders over $40.

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