I never met a cookie I didn’t love. While that may be the downfall for many of us, Rosie Daykin, baker extraordinaire, parlayed what started as a childhood hobby at six-years-old, into a phenomenal success story. Her newest book, Butter Celebrates! A Year of Sweet Recipes to Share with Family and Friends published by Appetite Random House, boasts recipes for every conceivable occasion: Hanukkah, Xmas, Baby Showers – even her dog, Zelda’s birthday party.
Filled with easy to follow recipes, baking tips and charming little anecdotes, I wonder if one can burn calories drooling over the scrumptious photographs by Janis Nicolay… but I digress.
Meeting Daykin in her light-filled Butter Baked Goods Café in Vancouver, Canada, is like time travelling back to a Victorian tearoom; windblown pink cabbage roses are strewn across wallpapered walls and vintage chandeliers sparkle above dessert-filled glass cases and atop pink, white and pistachio tiered cake stands. A glass window allows patrons to peer into the busy kitchen to watch bakers in handmade action mode – no conveyer belt, magic wand nor additives or preservatives here.
The decor of both Butter Baked Goods are retro gems; wrought iron baking racks, glass candy jars and Parisian cafe furniture, so it’s not that surprising to learn that Daykin was an interior designer for 14 years. In her apron with her hair tied back in a short ponytail, she admits, “I always wanted to have a little bakery – you know just a hole in the wall where I could make cookies & ice cakes all day.”
Married to Paul Daykin, with a grown-up daughter, India Rose, she explains why she didn’t open her bakeries sooner. “It was always a life-long plan, but you know, timing is everything. You don’t open when you have a two-year-old. I was also working and developing recipes from my test kitchen at home for five years until one day I thought the time was right.”
Daykin discovered just the right location in 2007 in the cozy Dunbar community then opened another branch café a few blocks away in 2012. They have been such big hits that when celebrity Canadian crooner, Michael Bublé married Luisana Lopilato, they ordered from Butter Baked Goods who whipped up 500 cupcakes with white frosting. At the wedding they were served on an incredible multi-tiered skirt with wheels, worn by a real model!
Never one to rest on her floured laurels, Daykin published her first book, Butter Baked Goods: Nostalgic Recipes from a Little Neighbourhood Bakery in 2013 and it became the biggest selling cookbook in Canada, also available in the U.S.
She came up with a twist to her baking repertoire by concocting square gourmet marshmallows in numerous exotic flavours. (Daykin has a separate facility that produces them.) “Word got out kind of quickly-people were amazed because most had never had the real thing and we started to package them,” she explains.“Whole Foods came to us and asked if they could sell them. We were at Dean & DeLuca in New York and they wanted them. Now we sell to over 300 stores across North America and in Japan.”
Her sense of humor is the major ingredient in all her baking and naming things is also her forte: Witchey Fingers, Bunny Buns, Chocolate Whoopie Hearts and Squirrel Pie (Note: no people or animals are harmed in the making of these confections,) are just a few.
“I love what I’m doing and baking was always such an amazing stress reliever for me, Daykin confides. And how does she stay so thin? (I know that’s what you’re all thinking.)
“Do you see those boxes piled up there in the corner?” Daykin asks me. “I’m lugging them to my car and then running around all day. Baking is hard work!”
TOP PHOTO: The author of Butter Celebrates! Rosie Daykin. Photography copyright © 2015 Janis Nicolay. Published by Appetite Random House.