Location: 324 Frederick Street, Kitchener
Though I was really hoping to try the kouign-amann at Ambrosia Corner Bakery, it turns out I visited on the wrong day — they’re only served from Thursday to Saturday. My disappointment was short-lived, however. As soon as I saw their Pecan Cinnamon Sticky Buns, I knew that I needed to put one in my belly ASAP.
Step aside, kouign-amann; that sticky bun has an urgent appointment with my face.
Yes. It’s as good as it looks. It’s sticky, sweet, and incredible. It looks like it might be too sweet, but it’s actually remarkably well balanced. The caramel on top has a very rich, deep flavour, and the buttery, amazing pastry is substantial enough to hold up to the generous amount of sauce. That’s not to mention the underlying cinnamon flavour, which is delightful.
But then do I even need to be writing this? You have eyeballs. Again: it’s as good as it looks.
Location: 484 Danforth Avenue, Toronto
The Greek doughnuts (a.k.a. loukoumades) they serve at Lukumum are intensely sweet. They’re also extremely delicious.
I tried loukoumades at Loukoumania Cafe in Vaughan last year; the ones at Lukumum are twice as sweet. Three times as sweet? They’re way sweeter.
I tried a couple of varieties. I went with the classic, which is soaked through with syrup and topped with honey and cinnamon, and the hazelnut, which is soaked with syrup and topped with Nutella and hazelnuts.
Both were delicious, though I preferred the classic. Despite being soaked through with syrup, the exterior remains pleasantly crunchy. The inside is completely suffused with syrup, but it’s not mushy. It’s great. The honey adds even more sweetness, and a nice floral note that goes very well with the cinnamon.
The Nutella variety is tasty as well — Nutella makes anything delicious — but the original is more unique.
Location: Follow them on Instagram to see where they’ll be
There’s nothing sadder than biting into a cannoli only to find that its would-be crispy exterior has been rendered soft and chewy by the ravages of time.
Holy Cannoli, which had a booth at the recent OssFest street festival, avoids this problem quite definitively by filling their cannoli shells to order. This is clearly the way to do it. I don’t know why every bakery doesn’t do it this way.
So of course, the shell was nice and crispy, just as it should be. It’s crispy but not overly crunchy — it’s basically the perfect cannoli shell.
You can choose from either chocolate chip or vanilla filling; I went with the latter, and it was creamy, sweet, and tasty. Nothing about it particularly jumped out as being amazing, but it was a solid cannoli.
Location: 172 Baldwin Street, Toronto
You win some and you lose some.
I just tried the almond croissant from Blackbird Baking Co. On one hand, the croissant itself is fantastic; it’s lightly crispy on the outside, satisfyingly buttery, and has an absolutely perfect texture. The exterior crispiness is maybe a bit too subtle, but for the most part it’s one of the better croissants I’ve had in the city.
But the almond part of this almond croissant is disappointingly anemic. Almond croissants are traditionally stuffed and topped with almond paste; the paste on top gets crispy and caramelized, and the paste inside is gooey and sweet.
That’s how it’s supposed to be, at least. Here, on the other hand, the layer on top was so thin that it may as well not have even been there, and it was filled with a crumbly, dry almond mixture that had almost no sweetness. It’s not at all what it’s supposed to be.
I get wanting to put your own spin on a classic, but if you’re going to do that, maybe make sure that your new creation actually tastes good?
Still, the croissant itself is so amazing that it basically doesn’t matter. Just don’t expect anything particularly sweet or almondy.
Location: 100 City Centre Drive, Mississauga (inside Square One)
If the only cinnamon rolls you’re familiar with are the doughy and diabetes-inducing ones they serve at Cinnabon, Danish-style cinnamon rolls (a.k.a. kanelsnegl) are going to come as something of a shock. It’s like comparing “Macho Man” Randy Savage to Daniel Day Lewis. They’re both entertainers, but that’s about where the similarities end.
The kanelsnegl at Brod is solid. The pastry is quite nice — it’s flaky and a bit buttery, with crispy outer ring that eventually gives way to a softer, sweeter interior.
It’s a little bit bland, however; the pastry itself doesn’t have a ton of flavour, and the cinnamon/sugar level is probably a notch or two more restrained than it needs to be.
I know it’s not fair, but I couldn’t help but compare it to the kanelsnegls I had on a recent trip to Copenhagen, and there’s no contest. Those ones featured a much better balance of sweetness, with the pastry itself being downright magical.
Still, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with what they’re serving at Brod. It’s not amazing, but it’s very good.