“Free-From” Business Spotlight: Sweet & Short Bakeshop: Nut-Free Cakes, Cupcakes (gluten-free too!), & Cookies in Toronto
Evoking memories of batter-covered fingers, icing sugar clouds and the sweet smell of fresh baked treats, Toronto-based Short & Sweet Bakeshop treats are handcrafted using only the finest ingredients including pure vanilla, Belgian chocolate, fresh berries, and mouthwatering oranges, lemons and limes. Topped with sweet buttercream, colorful sprinkles, and Belgian chocolate shavings, Short & Sweet baked goods are also 100% peanut and tree-nut free, and offer gluten-free cupcakes as well!
I was so impressed by the beautiful photos of their nut-free treats that I reached out to them directly and was put in touch with Micaela who has been with the company for over three and a half years. I learned more about how Sheet & Short Bakeshop began, their craziest request for a custom cake, hopes for the future of the business, and more! Warning: the photos of their creations are out of this world. I already am hoping they make a gluten-free version of their giant sammie (7 giant cookies sandwiched between frosting), Do I need to say anymore?
AFW: Tell me about how Short & Sweet Bakeshop was started?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: Short & Sweet Bakeshop, then called Short & Sweet Cupcakes, started out as a pet project by owner Orli Levy after years of working in the beauty industry. In the winter of 2009, she decided to take the plunge and leased a tiny space just off Avenue road in Midtown Toronto. The idea was simple, bake from scratch, use the best ingredients, and create something delicious and indulgent. Since then we’ve expanded our menu to include more than just cupcakes, however our purpose has remained the same. We want to create a feeling of home for everyone who bites into our baked goods. Everything is as homemade as it can get and we really pride ourselves in the amount of care and affection we put into all of our products.
AFW: Short & Sweet Bakeshop is an 100% nut-free facility. Is it difficult to source nut-free ingredients? What inspired you to make the bakery nut-free?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: It can be challenging at times. When we say 100% nut-free we take every precaution to ensure that EVERYTHING is nut-free. All of our ingredients are guaranteed safe. We only source from nut-free suppliers and we don’t allow any outside food or drink into the building. Sometimes we’ll have an idea for a new flavour or product, but after calling manufacturers and suppliers we can’t get a guarantee that what we want is safe. In those cases we have to get creative. As a result we usually end up making whatever it is we need in house. On the whole though, we haven’t felt like it’s been a hindrance to us at all. The reason why staying committed to keeping nut-free has been so important is first and foremost about safety. The parent of a severely allergic child knows that you can never be too careful, and you simply don’t have the peace of mind that you need when you’re buying from a place that has nutella and peanut butter on the menu. Whether they ingest the nuts directly or not, some children are so severely allergic that even the slightest exposure could be incredibly dangerous. On the flip side, from the perspective of the kid, it’s devastating to be that one person in your class that doesn’t get a cupcake while everyone else is enjoy the party. It can be very isolating, and for young kids that feeling of ‘otherness’ really sucks. We’re glad to be able to make it possible for parents to feel at ease that their kids’ safety is being looked after, and to be able to allow that kid to take part in celebrating with their peers.
AFW:Gluten-Free Cupcakes are sold every Saturday (menu here). Are there any plans to expand to daily sales of gluten-free cupcakes?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: At this point, the gluten free cupcakes are only sold in store on Saturdays, but any customer is welcome to order them any other day of the week, so long as they meet the minimum.
AFW: Your sammies (butter cream/cream cheese frosting) sandwiched between two cookies look incredible. How many orders do you get for the sammie cake?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: The sammie cakes are for a very specific kind of customer haha. They’re extremely rich. Very decadent, very sweet. So definitely not for the faint of heart. That being said, we’ve absolutely noticed an increase in their popularity. They’re something different, something fun and not your typical vanilla birthday cake. We find our customers have a really fun sense of adventure. If it’s something they haven’t seen before, or something they know no one else is going to have, that’s what they want.
AFW: Tell me about the mason-jar cakes. How were these created?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: The mason jar cakes were created out of what we saw as a need for a sugar fix on the go. As pretty as they are, our cupcakes don’t travel well in a school lunch bag. And, once you bite into one, it’s hard to save any for later. Mason jars solved that problem. Not only does it make it a whole lot easier to pack your cupcakes to go, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to savour your treats little by little, the mason jar cake is the perfect option. Also, in terms of freshness, the glass seals everything in so your last bite is just as moist and delicious as your first!
AFW: Although your products are nut-free, do you have customers who love your treats that don’t have food allergies?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: All the time! Yes it’s true that we cater to a lot of schools, daycares, corporate events etc that require nut free options, but we also have a lot of customers who come by just because they like what we make. I’m actually one of them. I don’t have any issues with gluten, but when given the option for birthdays or family functions, I always order our gluten free cupcakes. I love them!
AFW: You take custom orders. What’s the craziest request you’ve ever received?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: The craziest request we’ve ever received, hmm, that’s a tough question. I think it would have to be the year we made a birthday cake for a dog. We had a customer who absolutely loved her dog and wanted his birthday to be just as special as any other member of the family. So, she came to us, and after a few weeks of recipe testing dog safe birthday cakes, we created a jumbo cupcake for her and her pet. The pictures we got with the thank you note after the party were hilarious. She had thrown a full on party for her dog, invited other pet owners and their dogs. That was a first.
AFW: What’s your favorite product sold at Short and Sweet Cupcakes?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: My favorite product would probably have to be our monster bars. They’re relatively new, we’ve only been making them for a couple of months, but they are to die for. Imagine a hello dolly and a monster cookie had a baby…that’s what our monster bars are like. They’ve got a graham cracker crust, and are filled with shredded coconut, condensed milk, oreo chunks, kit kat pieces, chocolate chips…basically anything and everything we have in the bakery at the time, and are topped with a generous layer of silky smooth ganache. They are unreal.
AFW: What’s been your biggest learning as a small business owner?
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: I would say staying true to our core values has really been our recipe for success. We really don’t try to be anything we’re not. We don’t try to compete with anyone else on whatever food trends are flying around at any given time. We know we do and we know that we do it well. Quality has always been our number one priority and we think that that shows in everything that we do. Ultimately our products speak for themselves. And our customers appreciate our unwavering commitment to consistently providing the best.
AFW: Tell me about your hopes for Short & Sweet Bakeshop.
Short & Sweet Bakeshop: World domination… you think I’m kidding…okay well I guess I am, but only kind of. As a business we hope to grow and continue to be as successful as we have been over the last six and a half years. This includes plans to open other locations in different parts of the city, continuing to expand our product line, and taking advantage of every opportunity that comes our way. We’ve been very fortunate to be featured several times in different food publications here in Toronto, as well as at major city events (such as Veld Music Festival, Childhood Cancer Canada’s Purple party etc) and a number of pop up shops hosted by Williams Sonoma. The idea is to keep our eyes in our own lane, keep on doing what we’ve been doing, and make the most delicious products we can make.
AFW: Describe Short & Sweet Bakeshop in three words.
Short & Sweet Bakeshop:Â Fun. Fattening. F*king amazing. Oh wait, that was four.
Visit Short & Sweet Bakeshop at 1945 Avenue Road Toronto, Ontario M5M 4A2