For the family-owned Budapest Bakeshop in downtown NOTL, it’s all about freshness, uniqueness and tradition.
The Queen Street bakery focuses almost exclusively on high-quality chimney cakes — a Hungarian speciality food that the family has put its own spin on.
“That's really what we're about, is being the freshest, most different kind of bakery,” says Todd Kane, who runs the bakery with his wife Anett, often with help from their two daughters Helena, 9, and Victoria, 5.
The bakery bakes are prepared fresh daily and the store doesn’t keep any day-old product.
“There's nothing out of the fridge, nothing out of the freezer. Nothing's done overnight. We don't use anything the next day like that. That's kind of the essence of what we are,” Todd says.
In Hungary, chimney cakes are typically a snack food found at carnivals and festivals, sort of like Beaver Tails are to Canadians. Traditionally, they’re sweet pastries coated in cinnamon sugar and nuts.
But the Kanes, who wanted to bring a bit of Anett’s heritage into their business, have reinvented the funnel-shaped bread with some savoury flavours like bacon and cheddar and turned them into sandwiches, while keeping the light, traditional texture and cooking method.
All of the cakes are done in a special oven designed specifically for making the bread.
“Because I grew up in Hungary, I grew up on chimney cakes,” Anett says.
“It was a specialty food. You couldn't buy it in the stores. If we'd go to a market or fair once or twice a year, I'd have it there and it was a very nice memory.”
Todd also got to experience the cakes for the first time while visiting Anett’s family in Hungary about 18 years ago.
“We always dreamt about doing something in food, like being in the in the food world, but what we wanted to do was do something Hungarian to represent Anett's background and give our girls, our two young children, a chance to grow up with a strong connection to their Hungarian background too,” Todd says.
Anett says chimney cakes go back about 300 years in Hungary.
The recipe is light, with no eggs or butter.
“It's like bread, pizza, croissants, pretzel and a donut had a baby together,” Todd says.
Both Todd and Anett say since opening they’ve been extremely thankful to have developed a large local following. Some people come in two or three times a week.
“From Niagara-on-the-Lake to St. Davids to Niagara Falls, the whole Niagara area has really responded well to the product. And we just, we're lucky,” he adds, noting that they have great staff who have been with them from the beginning who also believe in their product.
“We're fortunate there because there's been a lot of ups and downs the last two years with openings, closings, openings, closings, all these new rules. And we're adapting and kind of riding that roller coaster. But the staff has been consistent and they're just a great team.”
The shop also tries to give back to those in need in the community. Before the pandemic hit, the store would donate all of their end of day product to Newark Neighbours to give to people in need. Unfortunately Newark Neighbours couldn’t store the food at the time, so while they work out the logistics they’re also looking to partner with the YWCA to do something similar.
“If there's any products that we haven't sold that day, they can come pick that up and then they could go right away to families that could benefit from it.”
Todd says another thing they’re grateful for is the sense of community among NOTL businesses.
“We’ve reached out to other people and made great friends through this pandemic, with the restaurant owners and the business owners,” he says.
“These are all people that we've come to know now in our time here and become friends with and can talk to about things because they have more experience. It's been really nice to be able to bounce ideas and talk to the people” from other businesses.
Though the pandemic has been tough, “our attitude is always 'the glass is half full.' We're always focusing on the positive and I think that this community does a good job of that.”
Check out some of Budapest Bakeshop’s menu items in this week’s food guide.
Or stop by their store at 118 Queen St. and try out a chimney cake and watch the fresh cakes be baked throughout the day.