The first bites of a perfect croissant are exquisitely pleasurable. First, you experience the shatter of the flaky, buttery exterior, and then you hit the sweet, yet salty inner honeycomb layers.
An exemplary croissant requires precise, well-honed technique and most of all, a quality of flour and butter most mass-produced versions lack. Artisan baked goods taste so much better because they are handmade one-by-one, with great attention paid to the purity of each ingredient within them. They usually contain no chemicals or additives, making them wonderfully fresh.
Finally, local bakers are passionate about their communities, customizing their baked goods to suit the health concerns and taste preferences of their customers.
Some Types of Artisan Baked Goods
(Source: Weekend Bakery)
Traditionally, in France, artisan baked goods fall into three main categories, the first being boulangerie items that involve bakers using risen dough to make rustic baguettes and loaves. The second are viennoiseries, which are yeast-leavened pastries, like croissants and danishes that are flaky and rich in flavour.
Finally, the third category encompasses a host of other patisserie items, like sweet pastries, cakes, and cookies. Artisan companies in B.C. offer a wide selection of ready-to-enjoy baked goods in all these categories, in addition to mixes and frozen items for baking fresh in your own home oven.
Where to Buy Artisan Baked Goods Locally
While some supermarket chains carry local artisan baked goods, in general, you’ll find them in smaller online and retail establishments, like Vancouver’s Harvest Community Foods and Nada Grocery, that prioritize community, healthy living, and the value of handmade items.
Neighbourhood and specialty cafes also form relationships with local bakers who stock them with various pastries, squares, cookies, and loaves. Examples include Revolver Café and Ethical Bean in Vancouver, Squish Juicery in Port Coquitlam, and Spent Grounds in Surrey.
Farmers markets and craft fairs provide interactive and friendly venues for meeting local bakers who produce small-batch items with infinite care. Many of these vendors don’t have regular retail outlets, so word-of-mouth and social media can also be a good way to find out about them.
Local Artisan Baked Goods Brands to Know
The following are some local baking companies that prioritize the integrity of their ingredients and the quality of their finished products, both in terms of craft and health impact.
Proud East Van residents Cass Helps and Dayle Kennedy understand good bread requires time and the best of ingredients. Their microbakery, Tall Shadow Breads, sources only sustainable, organic Canadian grains for producing rustic sourdough baguettes, loaves, and bagels.
They draw on time-honoured simple techniques, like slow fermentation, to ensure that perfectly chewy, yet airy texture and tangy flavour that’s essential to sourdough baking. Items need to be pre-ordered for delivery or pick-up at Coho Commissary. Otherwise, their lovely breads can be purchased at other Vancouver establishments, like Eternal Abundance and Half Baked Cookie Co, as well as at farmers markets.
(Source: Vancouver Sun)
Fresh, pure, and traceable form the ethos of this bakery and supplier of whole grain flour. Using a stone mill, Flourist turns grains into flour which retains more nutrition and flavour than flour that has been industrially-processed.
The company forms supportive partnerships with Canadian farmers who employ organic and regenerative agricultural practices. Flourist bakers use the freshly-milled flour to make cookies, like a vegan tahini chocolate cookie, fruit galettes, and sourdough cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing. Beautifully-crafted loaves range from a seeded pan loaf to a whole grain marquis boule.
Through their mixes and flour products, Susgrainable is committed to reducing waste in Canada, in addition to improving the health of their customers. Their upcycled barley flour, which repurposes dehydrated barley “waste” from local craft breweries, is high in fibre and full of plant-based protein.
They use this nutrient-rich flour in their chocolate chip and pancake/waffle mix, both of which are low in sugar for healthy, yet tasty treats. In addition to online, you can find Susgrainable at farmers markets where they sell freshly made cookies, like the vegan Animal Lover, which contains oats, pecans, cranberries, and orange zest.
4. Beijú Foods
(Source: Beiju Foods)
Founded by Brazilian immigrants, this B.C. company takes deep pride in ancestral Indigenous food culture as well as long-held holistic principles related to sustainability. Their gluten-free products contain manioc flour, made of ground dried cassava root that resourceful Indigenous bakers used hundreds of years ago in place of scarce and expensive wheat flour.
Beijú Foods practices ethical sourcing, making sure ingredients are non-GMO, 100% natural, and harvested with environmental and community responsibility in mind. Besides whole cassava flour, the company sells cassava bread mix, instant bread mix, and cheese bread waffles that can be easily and quickly reheated.
Steven Meynier trained intensively in baking, pastry arts, and chocolate and confection-making in Cannes, France. He showcases his well-honed craft with the most heavenly butter croissants and pains au chocolat, which you can buy frozen for baking at home.
Real butter and fastidious technique and artistry result in impeccable products, which are ethereally light and flaky.
This whimsical company provides vegan versions of classic French pastries and desserts. Audrey Dupuy worked as a manager at hotels and restaurants in France before enthusiastically making it her mission to introduce Vancouver to her vegan baking.
She started with brightly-coloured macarons before expanding to show-stopping cakes, like a pistachio raspberry opera cake, and pastries, like pains au raisins. Frozen versions of her baking, such as croissants and blueberry lemon tarts, can be purchased for fresh at-home indulging.
7. To Live For
(Source: To Live For)
Owner Erin Ireland has been an inspiring pathfinder in proving how flavourful, sustainable, and ethical vegan baking can be. Starting with banana bread she made for appreciative friends, Ireland’s baking quickly grew into a business driven by love and values connected to community and health.
Her delectable items now range from coconut peanut butter power balls for an energy boost free of refined sugar, to a decadent salted double chocolate cookie with toasted marshmallow and a sprinkle of coarse salt on top.
A popular vendor at Vancouver’s farmers markets, Virtue Natural Bakery specialized in gluten-free items that substitute grains like brown rice, coconut and tapioca flours, and potato starch for traditional wheat flours. Owner Lisa Virtue, a certified natural chef and holistic nutritionist, freshly mills ingredients like flaxseeds and sources local and organic whenever possible.
She customizes items for a variety of dietary needs, including for those requiring dairy-free, low sugar, or low-carb baked goods. Her baked offerings include lavender brownies, apple cardamom scones, and country oat loaves.
There’s a charming simplicity to a good artisanal cookie that hearkens back to childhood. Vancouver Best Cookies are freshly made, using all-natural ingredients, which give them a comforting, homemade quality.
Besides their classic chocolate chip cookies, they offer inventive and playful flavours like stuffed Nutella, matcha and white chocolate, and White Rabbit Candy. The company also makes specialty and vegan cakes, like a black forest cake, and other baked goods, like brownies and croissants.
10. Livvy’s Bakery
Three vegan sisters are out to convince cookie-fans that plant-based baking can be just as, if not more, satisfying than baking that uses dairy products and eggs. Many of their cookies are also gluten-free, with brown rice flour and tapioca starch used in place of wheat flour.
Natural coconut-based ingredients give the cookies tons of flavour and richness without the need for artificial, processed taste enhancers. While you can never go wrong with their chocolate chip cookie, the chocolate brownie cookie with peanut butter is wonderfully dense and ideal for when a chocolate craving hits.
Love Artisan Baked Goods?
These companies symbolize a real shift in the baking market away from mass-produced goods, to ones dedicated to handmade technique and the finest of ingredients. And with such fresh products customized to your dietary requirements, a cookie or square becomes a way of treating your palate and your body well.
Support local artisan bakeries in Vancouver on our online hyperlocal shop Coho Market - browse the artisan bakery aisle here!
(Hero image source: Weekend Bakery)