Asked & Answered: What the Pros Know – Bakers

We ask BC bakers to tell us what bread or baked good they associate most with the holidays.


Mark & Valerie Engels, Bakers/Owners – Bubby Rose’s Bakery & Cafe, Victoria

We love the aroma of exotic spices that go into our vegetarian mincemeat and our rum-laced fruit cake drives us to euphoric distraction, but it is definitely the marzipan-filled stöllen that feels most festive. Perhaps it is the butter-brushed exterior to which the icing sugar adheres snow-like!


Jeneen & Richard Harrison, Bakers/Owners – Bond Bond’s, Victoria

Shortbread! It was a staff consensus that shortbread has been a holiday staple (in the tin can of course!) at our family gatherings that appealed to all – young and old. We know this must be true for our customers as well since our all butter shortbread keeps us busy baking it fresh daily during holiday season.


Karin Piett, East Village Bakery, Vancouver

At East Village Bakery, we work hard to recreate those traditional holiday baked treats but in a gluten free way, without a compromise to taste. That means mincemeat tartins and tartlets become vegetarian and gluten free but remain delicious and hugely popular. We also do wonderful shortbreads and many traditional Christmas cookies using cherries, other fruits, nuts and chocolate. Our holiday treats have a ton of heart made with passion, alongside other great quality ingredients.


Byron Fry, Baker/Owner, Fry’s Bakery, Victoria

The Christmas season is always really exciting but a ton of hard, hard work and long hours. The most fantastic thing for me is the amount of bread people consume. I love it when people come together to feed each other, and during the holidays they don’t hold back. For us, our seasonal specialty is Stollen, a lovely rich bread filled with house-candied citrus peel, rum-soaked raisins and roasted almonds, all wrapped around a homemade marzipan core. It’s a lot of work but it’s lovely to share with our community.


Mark Theobald, Baker/Owner, Leaven Woodfire Bakery, Victoria

Pfeffernusse! It’s a traditional German spiced gingerbread cookie that I grew up with in my family. My mum would make them only once a year – at Christmas and I’ve carried on the same tradition with my family. We plan to be carrying them at the bakery this year, but they are quite labour-intensive as they have to be hand-rolled, so they will be available in limited quantities only! They’re made with honey and spiced with nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, clove, cardamom and ginger. I find the traditional hard icing takes away from the flavour, so we just dust them with icing sugar. It’s just a beautiful gingerbread cookie.


Tara Black, Pastry Chef and Co-owner, Origin Bakery, Victoria

I love cookies!! And when the holiday season hits it gives us a great excuse to make lots of varieties with many flavors and textures. In the fall we start to work with different groundnuts, like hazelnut lintzer cookies – super yummy. Then there comes pumpkin spice cookies with maple glaze and by the time Christmas season shows up we are playing with mint shortbreads, spiced sugar cookies with lemony glazes. Seriously, there are just so many good cookies and never enough time to make or eat them all!


Mary Mackay, Head Baker, Terra Breads, Vancouver

A long standing Terra Breads tradition is Italian Panettone Christmas Bread.  Our Panettone is made with our natural sourdough starter, Rabbit River cage-free eggs, milk and butter.  We bake a traditional fruit version made with organic raisins, organic black mission figs, sweetened dried cranberries, natural apricots and sweetened orange zest.  We also offer a popular dark chocolate and cherry Panettone, which makes fantastic French toast to share with family and friends any holiday morning.


Bruce Steward, True Grain Bakery, Cowichan Bay

Nothing says Festive like shortbread!  We try to really bring out the nuance of the grain in our shortbread.  Our spelt shortbread made with BC Grown and milled spelt has proven to be a huge hit.  This year look for emmer and einkorn shortbread.  Organic butter, organic sugar and BC grown and milled ancient grains.  Hard to beat!


David Terry, Baker, Wildfire Bakery, Victoria

Every year, across Europe and North America, the annual appearance of Christmas Stollen has come to symbolize both the essence and the culinary indulgence of the holiday season. Half bread, half cake, even described as a leavened shortbread for its extremely high butter content, this hefty loaf has all the delicious flavors of the season, in one bite. A denser and more substantial cousin to Panettone, with cardamom, rum-soaked currants and raisins, candied peel, marzipan filling and drenched in a buttery sugar coating, it’s hard to resist a second or third helping of this seasonal delight.


Cliff Leir, Baker/Owner, Fol Epi, Victoria

Panettone is what tortures me over the holidays. I love it, but it involves a long wild yeast fermentation process that demands a complicated feeding schedule for the starter, so I have to get up every four hours through the night to feed it. The dough gets built in two stages. In the middle of the night the bakery smells amazing as the final dough mixes. Then we have to fight with the pastry bakers for oven space while they are trying to fit in their stollen baking in the afternoon. It ends up involving everyone at the bakery, with some people candying citrus peel, others scraping out vanilla beans, my kids come in after school to help hang them upside down to cool and night cleaners package them at the end of their shift. Then a few days away from Christmas, exhausted, we think we’ve made enough, but they sell out and we have work  around the clock to make more. It’s beautiful, I look forward to it all year.



Written By:

Rebecca Baugniet is a freelance food writer and editor living on Canada’s West Coast with her husband and their four children. The author of three published cookbooks, Rebecca has also written for EAT Magazine and for Montréal ...

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