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Sweet Spot: Hot and Buttered in Arbutus

Little neighbourhood bakery that could keeps things simple and sweet

There is no barn wood or exposed brick in Butter Baked Goods, and the only jam jars in sight actually contain jam. And though I’d think twice about wallpaper spangled with foot-long pink roses in my home, it makes perfect sense in a bakery where sweet rules supreme.

This unapologetic prettiness is the work of Rosie Daykin. In 2007, the former interior designer opened Butter Baked Goods at 4321 Dunbar St. “I just had this idea that one day I was going to open a little bakery,” she says. “For a lot of people it came out of left field… but those who know me, my friends, they knew it was something I always wanted to do.”

Her aim was to bake the things she wanted to eat: simple, nostalgic, accessible. “I wanted to do really classic cookies, a great cake. Like chocolate cake with buttercream and sprinkles,” she says. “You don’t need a degree to eat it. You just have to enjoy it.”

Word got out that Butter served the best home baking outside of your grandmother’s kitchen, so it wasn’t a surprise when Daykin opened a second location in September 2012. Located at Mackenzie and West 33rd Avenue, the second Butter has twice the space and includes café seating where you can enjoy sweets and savouries, including breakfast and light lunch. The original spot is now the Butter Tea Room, which serves sandwiches and treats alongside a private label tea line.

“Butter’s a friendly neighbourhood spot and that’s what I always wanted — to be right in the middle of a community, to service that community,” she says. “When I saw the [new] building under construction, I thought, ‘Ah! Perfect.’”

The new Butter is bigger but little else has changed. The front display features cake stands staggering with cinnamon-crusted Snickerdoodles; nubbly oatmeal cookies bearing cranberries, white chocolate and pecans; and brooding chocolate cookies punctuated with white chocolate chips.

These are carefully crafted cookies. One: they look good. Two: they’re just sweet enough. Three: they’re stuffed full of whatever they claim to contain, whether fruit, nut or chocolate. But best of all, they’re slightly oversized, prompting even the most staid grown-up to remember what it felt like to be a kid brandishing a slightly-too-big cookie in a slightly-too-small hand.

Of course, there’s more to Butter than cookies. There are bars, cakes, cupcakes, loaves, scones, muffins — and marshmallows. Available in 18 flavours from classic vanilla to maple, violet to gingerbread, Butter’s marshmallows are justly famous. They’re sold through gourmet-food company Dean & Deluca “right across North America and in Japan,” says Daykin.

Butter has grown significantly since the days when Daykin was its only employee, but she still plays a hands-on role at the bakery. “I love the holidays. As much work as it is for all of us, that’s such a really fun time to be in the bakery… you get to feel part of the holiday and everybody else’s holiday.”

This holiday season, Daykin has even more reason to celebrate. In October, Random House published her cookbook, Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes From a Little Neighborhood Bakery, featuring recipes for some of the bakery’s best-loved treats. And yes, it includes a recipe for those addictive marshmallows.

“I couldn’t be happier with it,” she says. “If people make things out of it, great. That’s the whole point of the cookbook. But it won’t make you a cup of coffee; Butter Baked Goods will.”