Good Times are Baked In Durham’s Downtowns

Will McGuirk

“For me, baking is completely gratuitous. Putting a little piece of my heart and soul into everything I bake and watching as people taste my offering. When people enjoy my food there is no better feeling I can think of.”

Durham residents know that we’re home to incredible specialty baked goods—plump apple fritters from White Feather Farms in Raglan, Hank’s in Port Perry or the Village Bake Shop in Whitby. Doughnut dreams can be fulfilled by the cinnamony apple cider doughnuts at Tyrone Mills, or Crave Donuts’ delicacies in Whitby.

These destinations are all worthy of a little road trip. But, if you’re seeking a soothing-to-the-soul stroll through late fall colours followed by a leisurely stop for coffee and a baked good at a cozy café, drop into one of our many downtowns. They host some unbelievably good baked goods shops and cafés to discover on foot!

Close up of danishes with a variety of flavours.
Source: Belle Vie Café and Bakery

Belle Vie Café and Bakery

The latest addition to downtown Oshawa is Belle Vie Café and Bakery. This French artisanal-styled brunch spot is located a few doors down from the four corners and is already a local favourite for the various businesses in its neighbourhood. This is the second location for the business, with a Belle Vie Café and Bakery in downtown Whitby as well.

Sarah, the café supervisor, explains that the owners’ history with baking began with one of their grandfathers, who owned a bakery for many years. This sparked a passion, and after moving to Canada, they worked at a French bakery in Toronto and gained their education in Baking Arts Management at George Brown College, before opening the first location in Downtown Whitby. When asked why they chose Downtown Oshawa for their second location, Sarah remarked, “Oshawa has always been known for its diverse population and ever-growing business opportunities. It seems immense traffic from bus transportation and vehicles, along with foot traffic. This in hand with the endless support of the City of Oshawa and surrounding businesses, are just some of the reasons we have been overjoyed with our decision to open [our second location] in Downtown Oshawa.”

Seasonal offerings at Belle Vie include cinnamon danishes, roasted butternut squash soup, and hazelnut hot chocolate. The owners recommend trying their Christmas Log Cakes, available in chocolate hazelnut, dark chocolate, or mocha. These are real show-stoppers, which are almost too beautiful to eat.

Beautiful storefront counter at Nest Specialty Desserts.
Source: Nest Specialty Desserts

Nest Specialty Desserts

Nadine Harron is the proprietor of Nest Desserts in downtown Bowmanville. Her love of baking also came to her from family, in particular as a child from her grandmother’s hands. It’s always been her dream to open her own shop in her hometown, using local ingredients.

“My family always had a vegetable/fruit garden, sourcing locally is just what we did. Having so many amazing farms around the corner makes it so easy. From strawberries at Watson Farms to apples and pumpkins from Allin’s Orchard. These are our neighbours and friends and that’s what makes community,” she says.

What brings the community in, is the great selection at Nest. Seasonal favourites are apple pies Harron says, adding they’re an annual pleasure.

“My mini apple pies made on a shortbread crust are very popular. My scones, jumbo cookies and shortbread that seasonally change are—by far—a community favourite.”

Close up of toffee apple scones.
Source: Sift Bakery

Sift Bakery

Melissa Dubien of Sift Bakery in downtown Newcastle says the holiday season is the shop’s favourite time of year.

“The holiday season is our favourite in the bakery, we are able to have some fun with our holiday offerings. We have mince tarts, butter tarts, housemade marshmallows, shortbread, preserves, hot chocolate bombs and holiday seasonal drinks, pastries and platters,” she says, adding “My personal favourite are our toasted coconut marshmallows and orange Earl Grey shortbread.”

Dubien is not only a local entrepreneur, but locally educated too. She’s a graduate of the Culinary Management program at Durham College, and Recipient of the Gold Medal Student Award.

“For me, baking is completely gratuitous,” she says. “Putting a little piece of my heart and soul into everything I bake and watching as people taste my offering. When people enjoy my food there is no better feeling I can think of.”

When visiting Durham, take Dubien up on her offer of baked goods with heart and soul, keeping in mind that whether it’s north, south, east or west, here in Durham, the good times are baked in.