Name: Blackbird Baking Co.
Contact Info: 172 Baldwin St., Toronto., 416.708.3475, blackbirdbakingco.com, @bbirdco
Neighbourhood: Kensington Market
Owner: Simon Blackwell, David Castellan & Cynthia Leung (of SOMA) and April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (of The Spotted Pig)
Baker: Simon Blackwell
The Food: Crusty multigrains, wild-yeasted sourdough baguettes, and airy focaccias like the Morrocan – a perfectly stretched and dimpled dough dusted with za’atar, black cumin and crunchy sea salt. Simon Blackwell, owner and head baker follows traditional techniques, like hand-mixing all of the starters, kneading the dough by hand and relying on the intuitive touch of the “bakers hands” to know when the dough has reached its perfect fermentation. Other offerings include, daily sandwiches like the ham and cheese squeezed between chewy foccacia and mini breakfast foccacias topped with cheese, herbs and a freshly cracked egg in the middle, which is then finished in the stone oven. Soon to arrive are the Pizzete’s – small Italian pizzas. Chocolate hazelnut cakes, a selection of sweet or savory scones and sticky buns are available daily for the pastry-inclined customer.
The Drinks: San Pellegrino sparkling fruit beverages and water.
The Place: Wanting to restore the retail space to its original, pre-Cobs charm, Simon and his team stripped the walls to reveal red bricks and intricate flaws from former businesses, like original tenant Lottman’s Bakery. A wood and iron shelf displays boules, batards and baguettes in vintage stoneware and wine crates, along with a variety of grains from CIPM above, while the opposite wall offers other local artisan products like honey. Light floods into the intimate space thanks to floor to ceiling windows and double glass doors are left open, allowing the smell of freshly baked bread to waft across Baldwin St.
• 400 sourdough loaves baked everyday
• 240 °C, the set temperature of the stone oven for baking all of the sourdoughs
• 1:00am, arrival of the first bakers to mix the baguette dough and turn ovens on
•11 hours, the average daily work hours of a baker
• 2 collaboration breads with breweries, including using Bellwoods Brewery’s spent grain
• 1:00pm, the time Blackbird sold out of bread on opening day
• 3 years, the time Simon’s sourdough starter has been fermenting