Cake & Loaf
Hamilton’s food scene is booming now, but back in the early 2010’s it was only just starting to get some buzz. Cake & Loaf on Dundurn Street, opened in 2011 by Josie Rudderham and Nickey Miller, has stood the test of time and is a go-to spot for sweet treats, breads, and special occasions. What’s truly special about this business, besides the delicious foods, is that they are a Living Wage employer and have incorporated local suppliers everywhere possible in their offerings. This interview with Josie is happening ahead of Easter, so don’t miss out on the OG Cream Egg Brownie (you can place an order on their website).
Tell us about yourself and your business.
Cake and Loaf Bakery is a female owned and operated neighbourhood bakery in Hamilton, Ontario. We pride ourselves on our happy staff, local web of suppliers, community involvement, and, of course, DELICIOUS sweet + savoury baked goods. We are a Living Wage Employer, and believe in people over profit. We have been located at 321 Dundurn St S since 2011.
You’re a Hamilton original and are one of the small businesses that really put Hamilton on the map when things started buzzing in the early 2010s, what was that like?
From Josie: It was challenging when we first started building the bakery on Dundurn for a few reasons. We were two young women in our early twenties and we faced a lot of sexism and skepticism about our novel approach to employees. We knew from the beginning we needed to be Living Wage employers and a lot of people told us, get rich first, then worry about ethics. We were told no one would accept our “crazy prices” -like $5 loaves of artisan whole grain breads. However, we received a lot of support from the suppliers we still use today (shout out to Oak Manor Organic Farms, Hewitt’s Dairy, and Jensen Cheese). Kaelin McCowan, founder of Detour Coffee, would deliver a few pounds of coffee a week and stay for a chat. He really helped us embrace community over competition and set the stage for the beautiful culinary scene that has developed in Hamilton.
A lot has changed in the last 10+ years. What do you hope stays the same in the city and what are you excited about in Hamilton’s future?
From Josie: For us, you really can do anything in Hamilton. It has an amazing creative energy and a salt of the earth vibe you just don’t often get in bigger cities. It often feels like a small town and it’s not often we meet someone who doesn’t know at least one friend of ours. We hope that sense of community never changes. We both grew up in Hamilton so we can appreciate the challenges it has seen over the past couple decades, but we’ve also had front row seats to the innovations, shifts, and growth the city has experienced. We hope we continue to grow intentionally, centering the needs of our most vulnerable populations. We are a wealthy city in a wealthy nation- no child should be going hungry.
What’s your favourite item on the menu right now?
Easter is the best time of year! Whether you’re team Cream Eggs, or Mini Eggs, we gotcha!
My FAV product has to be the OG Cream Egg Brownie! We created this epic brownie 9 years ago, and have watched it grow and inspire bakeries all over the province ever since! Customers travel from all over Ontario for this decadent bar, and it’s been sent all over the country. It’s a fudge brownie base with a mini Cadbury Creme Egg baked in to the centre, topped with two layers of white chocolate ganache + one layer of milk chocolate ganache for a fudgey, melt-in-your-mouth, delicious experience. If you know, you know!
You’re located on Dundurn in Kirkendall, what do you love about your neighbourhood?
From Josie: We love our neighbourhood! Obviously, we are right across the street from Earl Kitchener Elementary School so we love watching the kids laugh and scream with joy as they play on the playground and walk past the bakery before and after school. When we get tired of eating our own delicious food or drinks we can always swing by the extremely well stocked Dundurn Market. There’s great services available right across the street from us too! The mature trees and gorgeous old houses are really just the icing on the cake. It’s a pretty special neighbourhood to belong to and we feel very lucky.
Besides your own place, where else do you like to eat or shop in the city?
From Josie: There’s really too many to name but a few favourites are Maipai on Barton, Mesa or Saint James on James North, or Latin Foods in the Farmer’s Market. We always try to shop at small businesses in the city as much as possible and there are a ton of great ones. Our favourites are bookshops- Epic on Locke Street or King West Books in Westdale.
Any advice to other small businesses wanting to open up shop in the city?
From Josie: If you are going to start a business, it’s best if you have worked in a similar business before- the smaller the better- to experience as many aspects of the business as possible. For example, you may believe because you are a great baker that you would like to run a bakery. But running a bakery is a lot more about supplier logistics, human resources, and long term planning than it is about making the perfect cake. If possible, interview folks near and far who are doing what you want to do and ask them about their challenges. A successful business rests on a lot of planning, pivoting, and problem solving. It’s best if you have a head start on the potential challenges.