Thoughts from (Patisserie) Daniel

At first, I don’t notice the breadboards crammed into spare pockets of space at Patisserie Daniel. Hundreds of breadboards. One entire wall groans under the weight of boards big and small, in varying states of quality. Breadboards spill over onto the floor, stacked in boxes that are then stacked on top of each other. Others are wedged under counters or hidden behind kitchen equipment. 

Soon, when time permits, every wall in Patisserie Daniel will be covered in breadboards. Owner Daniel Vokey started his collection with only a few, but customers heard and now he can’t keep up with the supply.

Of course, the obvious question is “Why all the breadboards?”. “If every slice of bread was a thought, how many stories would that be?” asks Daniel, who believes those slicing a loaf of bread before work or as a late night snack are lost in their thoughts. Hung on the walls, the bakery’s surrounded by all those thoughts, forever sliced into the breadboards.

Interesting thoughts about Patisserie Daniel

An employee in her early twenties used to visit the bakery with her parents when she was less than a year old.
Just last month they filled an order for a penis-shaped cake.
Located only a few stores down from Patisserie Daniel is a medicinal dispensary, adding a unique perspective to their client base.

The walls of Patisserie Daniel deserve their own story, but my original assignment was to discover the secret of their brioche cinnamon buns. Of course, the conversation meanders past the buns rather quickly and onto stories of cakes for engagement parties, life celebrations, adoption events, weddings, and funerals.

Daniel Vokey prepping brioche dough

I watch Daniel, who’s been baking cakes since he was 15, role and form marzipan flowers for six Queen Isabella cakes. Filled with vanilla sponge, whipping cream and raspberry sauce, they can sell out daily.

Patisserie Daniel originally opened in 1992 on Fort Street and their second (and currently only) location on Cook Street in 1994. For fifteen years, Daniel operated both locations, providing retail and commercial bakery services. At one point, he had over 39 employees and baked for every Starbucks from Victoria to Campbell River.

A batch of business glitches and the stress of two locations led Daniel to downsize. He’s slowly cutting back on commercial orders, focusing more on his customers and his passion for baking.

Queen Isabella cakes on displayThe word passion continually entered our dialogue, like when we got around to discussing those brioche cinnamon buns.

Daniel refused to accept that using brioche dough was unique. “If you look at the history of brioche, it’s a sweet dough,” he explains. A combination of butter, eggs, and milk create this sweet, but not too sweet, bread. From raw ingredients to finished product, the process takes three days.

I couldn’t get Daniel to admit his cinnamon buns were unique, but he did reveal it’s not just cinnamon providing the flavor. A speculaas blend—traditionally used in Dutch gingerbread—of star anise, coriander, white pepper, chili, nutmeg, and cinnamon create a spicy and savory bun. For those who normally find cinnamon buns too sugary, Patisserie Daniel’s offering deserves your attention.

As we ended our conversation, Daniel gave me a loaf of bread, which I ate for breakfast the next day. He’s right—as I sliced, my mind wandered to places and thoughts far away from my kitchen’s breadboard.


Patisserie Daniel
1729 Cook Street
Victoria, BC. V8T 3P4

Website: patisseriedaniel
Twitter: @PatisserieDanie

Written By:

Kaitlyn Rosenburg holds a BFA in creative writing with a minor in journalism and publishing from the University of Victoria. Her work has appeared in local publications such as The Martlet, as well as national publications like ...

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