By Kathryn McGrath
With the days turning cooler and Thanksgiving falling so early this year, our thoughts are already on the holiday season. Of course a big part of seasonal celebrations includes delicious baked goods. We have discovered the Centennial neighbourhood is rife with home bakers who offer quality baked treats to local residents all year long.
Local sisters Jacquie and Jillian Forster have been running Poirier’s Pastries for three years and recently began selling their goods, including seasonal pies and bars, at the farmers’ markets located at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, Pickering and Ajax.
The sisters, who come from a long line of bakers on their mother’s side of the family, started with a catering business focusing on handcrafted desserts made from quality, locally-sourced ingredients and then they expanded to selling at farmers’ markets. They bake custom cakes at home but use a commercial kitchen for their other products.
Jacquie studied baking and pastry arts at Centennial and George Brown Colleges and currently works full time at the business. Jillian currently helps out part time while she is completing a fine arts degree, a skill that comes in handy for the production of custom-designed cakes.
The sisters say their most memorable event was this year’s Highland Creek Heritage Festival where they sold seasonal pies, assorted bars, cookies, cakes and pop tarts. Despite the large scale baking involved, their goods were sold out before the end of the day.
Jacquie and Jillian have lived in Centennial all their lives and fondly remember delivering the CCRA News when they were in high school. “One of my favourite things about being located here is the support we’ve received from the community and finding other local small businesses to collaborate with,” says Jacquie.
Once the farmers markets are over Poirier’s Pastries are available through the company’s Facebook page, on Instagram or through email at email@example.com.
Sugar Mama Baking, operated by local resident Christina Drain, is another local business that offers baked-to-order cookies, pies and breads. Christina’s pies are non-traditional “picnic” pies in a rectangular shape and made with seasonal fruits and ingredients.
“I inherited my love of baking from my mom who was a tremendous baker,” says Christina. “She made the loveliest Blueberry Chiffon Cheesecake.”
While Christina’s regular pick up days are Friday, she says her oven never closes for special orders. She is looking to add a Thursday pickup day as well.
When she was 13, her family moved onto Beechgrove Drive and, after briefly leaving the neighborhood to attend university, she moved back into the area with her husband. They now live in the “new” development south of Lawrence Avenue.
Orders for Sugar Mama Baking can be placed through Facebook, by email (Christina.firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling 416-577-3700.
Last, but not least, is baker and confectionary artist Samantha Damiano who runs Sammy’s Sprinkles. Her custom creations include, but are not limited to, cupcakes, cakes, cookies, cake pops, macarons and pies.
Shortly after starting her business four years ago, Samantha attended the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts where she was able to perfect her decorating and baking skills.
Samantha says one of her most memorable creations was a unicorn cake she made for a good friend’s surprise party. She says her friend’s face lit up when she saw the cake because it was customized to her personality. “The cake looked good, but it tasted even better,” she adds.
Samantha has always called the Centennial neighbourhood home; many may know her since she attended Charlottetown JPS, Joseph Howe and then Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate. “Since this area is home, I want my clients to love what they order—not only for the design but for the fresh flavours and ingredients,” she explains. It’s a small community vibe in the GTA and it’s a great place to live.”
Sammy’s Sprinkles products are available through Instagram: Sammys_sprinkles, Facebook, email: email@example.com, or by phoning 647-638-3986.