ora cakes toronto

This Toronto woman is making a whole new kind of cheesecake in memory of her mother

A Toronto woman has started a cheesecake company named after her mother that blends tempting flavours and the sort of nutritional value not often associated with cheesecake.

Leeyel Diamond has worked for Vitamix since 2013 and has been vegan since 2014, when she tried cutting meat and dairy out of her diet for various reasons, and she found her energy levels rose.

She actually started out experimenting with making vegan cheesecake using her blender.

Diamond started The Vegan Cheesecake Company in 2019, but changed the name to Ora Cakes in October 2020 in honour of her mother Ora, who died from cancer in 2008.

"She was truly the creative culinary inspiration behind my vision of Ora Cakes," she says. She wants to take all the nutrional value of the food her mom made her eat for its health-boosting properties as a kid (not all of which she liked, with things like boiled artichokes, ginger juice, beet and carrot pulp) and incorporate that – the nutrition, not necessarily the boiled artichokes – into tasty desserts.

"My mom ate food for fueling good health as opposed to pleasing her palate," she says. "This is why I have learned to blend nutrition and flavour."

She started selling Ora Cake cheesecakes in the summer of 2020 out of her home to friends and family.

"After many friend consults, trials and versions of the cake, the perfect texture, flavour and consistency was born," says Diamond.

In January 2021 she started working out of a commercial kitchen in Woodbridge where people can pick up their orders by appointment. 

Ora Cakes is a one-woman operation whipping up cheesecakes, for example, with chaga mushroom crust and an espresso chocolate chip, buckwheat groat filling made with local Bean Head Coffee.

Other cheesecake flavour options include cherry, strawberry, mango, blueberry and raspberry. Wholesome ingredients include medjool dates, sea salt, coconut oil, coconut cream, cashews, almonds, gluten-free oats, fresh lemon juice and maple syrup.

"It has been important for me to avoid refined sugars, substituting instead with medjool dates and organic maple syrup," says Diamond.

She's also made it a prority to create gluten- and soy-free cakes.

Two-inch mini cupcake bites start at $30 for 20, three-inch cupcake-sized cakes start at $25 for six, six-inch cakes are $45 and nine-inch cakes are $65. You need to order at least three days in advance, and delivery is available for a $10 charge.

Thai restaurant Mengrai, which has a strong vegan following, started carrying Ora cakes in January 2021.

But for Diamond, cheesecakes are just the beginning.

"I'm thinking jams, salad dressings, energy balls and fruit/vegetable popsicles,"she says.

Diamond is also in talks with Off The Hook (which now does vegan fish and chips) and David Mintz Catering (which she used to work for and knows is always looking for vegan, gluten-free options).

"I'm also in the process of experimenting with super foods, like acai, turmeric, maqui,cacao and beet root powder," says Diamond.

"My goal is to contribute great-tasting whole foods to my city, and perhaps one day internationally."

Lead photo by

Ora Cakes

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