Discover more from Style Sweet Bake Club
Cookbook Club: Cake & Loaf
Transport yourself to this charming neighborhood bakery with Nickey and Josie.
What started as a coffee date between friends, Cake & Loaf is the beloved bakery of friends and co-owners Nickey Miller and Josie Rudderham. With Nickey’s pastry skills, Josie’s entrepreneurial spirit, and a shared dream of an environment that fostered creativity and trust, they transformed a two-story brick home into the space that would catapult their baking careers.
Tucked into a cozy neighborhood in Hamilton, Ontario, you can find bakery classics like cinnamon buns and Canadian butter tarts as well as new favorites like unicorn bars and coconut lime snack cakes. And if you can’t make it in person to drool over their epic layer cakes (hello drippy Chocolate Skor and puckery Lemonlicious Cakes!), you can now bake their recipes at home!
Their new cookbook is packed with cookie, pie, and cake recipes to satisfy every sweet craving. Bake something seasonal like the Farmer’s Fruit Crumble Bars or Pineapple Sour Cherry Tarts or year-round favorites like Lemon Meringue Cheesecake or three-layer Raspberry White Chocolate Cake.
Tessa Huff: Why did you decide to write this book?
Nickey Miller: When I decided baking was the career path for me, I started collecting recipes and adding my own spin in a self-titled recipe book called “Nickey’s Recipes”(creative, I know!) A cookbook had always been something in the back of my mind; the ultimate achievement and aspiration. Over the past 15 years at Cake & Loaf Bakery with all our recipe development, creative allowance with our talented employees, and endless seasonal menu change ups, we had amassed a a drool-worthy collection. It spans from classic cookies, breads, cakes, to the more luxurious confections. It only felt natural to want to share our creations near and far!
Josie Rudderham: For the last 15 years we’ve been building our from-scratch neighbourhood bake shop, Cake & Loaf Bakery in Hamilton, Ontario. We’ve worked very hard to create a supportive workplace that centres employee needs while also producing mouthwatering creative baked goods. Our cookbook is full of all our customers favourites so we know you’ll love them! Cake & Loaf is our love letter to our bakery, our customers, and our employees.
TH: Which recipe should readers try first? Or which has become a stand-out recipe with readers so far?
JR: I think Churro Waffle Cookies and Gummy Bear Stuffed Cookies have been the most popular with readers so far. We’ve seen some amazing variations and beautiful photos on social media. If you are a novice baker I would start with Chocolate Chunk Cookies or Classic Fudge Brownies. If you are more advanced, our Big Skor Sandwich Cookies or Hazelnut Crunch Cake are some of my favourites.
NM: I will agree with Josie on this one wholeheartedly for both answers. As the head of social media marketing, it’s been amazing to see all the wonderful bakes from people all over Canada and beyond. The sheer excitement and baking inspiration that our fans are experiencing has brought so much joy to our bakers hearts, not to mention some delicious pictures to drool over. Keep sharing your C&L creations, we love seeing them #bakeourbook #cakeandloaf.
TH: Can you name a must-have ingredient or signature flavor that you use in your recipes often? Or do you think there is special quality about your recipes or writing that readers can identify as being uniquely yours?
JR: Our recipes are approachable and accessible because we believe baking should be a part of regular life. There are a few specialty ingredients for finishing products like gold flake or chocolate crisp pearls that you would have to source but omitting them doesn’t detract anything from the deliciousness of these recipes. As long as you have pantry basics like sugar, flour, butter, vanilla, and eggs, you should be able to make something. We hope folks use our recipes as their basic go-to’s and add their own magic over time, using ingredients and touches unique to them.
TH: What keeps you inspired and creative in the kitchen?
NM: For me personally, I thrive on adjusting, adding, and pushing myself to get creative with what I have available. If you know me, you know I don’t like grocery shopping. So if I have 3 large containers of Greek yogurt, I’ll be creating sweet and savoury items using up all the yogurt. I enjoy the hunt of finding a recipe that can be easily adjusted to fit my ingredients. Throughout the pages of our cookbook you’ll find variation suggestions and little notes on how to make our recipes your own. Master the basics and then get creative with your own spin.
JR: I love baking for others or chasing a craving of my own so what I’m currently baking usually has to do with what my kids are requesting. They have contributed to tons of bakery products over the years with their wild requests - the best result being the Gummy Bear Stuffed Cookies.
TH: What were you listening to or reading at the time of writing this book?
JR: We wrote the bulk of the book at the beginning of the pandemic so all my media was super light and fluffy to keep me sane. I was listening to a lot of Conan O’Brien podcasts and finishing the Deborah Harkness Discovery of Witches trilogy. When I’m actually seated at the computer writing I listen to an instrumental playlist I’ve made featuring mostly Brian Eno and Alexandra Stréliski.
NM: My focus was mostly on photography and food styling during our creative process. You could find me dancing to a wide variety of music while cutting up baked goods, drizzling caramels, and decorating cakes. I captured photos through various moods and genres of music but most often I had the following bands on repeat: Of Monsters and Men, Arcade Fire, Elderbrook, LCD Soundsystem, Florence and the Machine, Tycho, and various 90’s alternative rock hits with a sprinkling of Girl/Boy Band Pop. Throw in a few podcasts of the True Crime variety and that made for successful photo shoot days.
TH: Walk into a reader’s home and where can you find your book? Displayed on a coffee table, next to the bed for late-night studying, or splattered with batter in the kitchen?
NM: A worthy cookbook is splattered with batter, finger prints, sticky pages and scribbled notes on a shelf in the kitchen. It’s an extension of your passion in the kitchen and a go-to when your cravings need to be met, you want to impress your friends and family, or just because you need that mood boost in your safe space. This cookbook is jammed with classic recipes to discover, master and impress for years over. Don’t be afraid to get messy. The most creative moments come out of letting your mess out and allowing the creative process to take over!
JR: I really hope our cookbook is open to a recipe on their kitchen table, dog eared, splattered with batter, and full of notes. That’s my idea of success as a cookbook author.
TH: What are some important keys to success for home bakers wanting to try new recipes?
JR: We have section in the cook book called Advice for Bakers that we highly recommend you read, especially as a novice baker. My number one piece of advice to home bakers (and new employees!) is to have fun with it and don’t focus too much on perfection. Mistakes teach you a lot in the kitchen. There’s no failures, only opportunities to learn. Read the recipe twice before you start and then go for it!
NM: As Josie has mentioned, the Advice for Bakers section in our cookbook completely lays out all the keys to success for any baker. We have been there, made the mistakes, made the adjustments, and problem solved our way through over a decade of recipes.
S’mores Sandwich Cookies
With 85 mouth-watering recipes, it was nearly impossible to pick which one to try first. But summer and S’mores are basically best friends, so I knew I had to give these cookies a go. Chewy graham cracker cookies are stuffed with decadent chocolate ganache and homemade marshmallow fluff. They are even better toasted and just as fun to eat as the gooey originals.
- Tessa Huff
*Recipe makes 10 sandwiches*
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and warm
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 4 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Sift the all-purpose and whole wheat flours, baking soda, and baking powder into a medium bowl and stir together.
In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt until the mixture is smooth and there is no oily film left around the edges. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla until the mixture is smooth and light in color.
Using a spatula, stir in the flour mixture and graham cracker crumbs and mix until no dry flour remains.
Scoop five 3-tablespoon portions of the cookie dough onto each baking sheet, leaving ample space between them. Gently press down on the dough portions to flatten them to about ¾-inch thickness. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 15 to 18 minutes, or until lightly browned all over. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets.
7 ounces (200g) milk chocolate, chopped
⅓ cup heavy cream
⅓ cup light corn syrup
Combine all of the ingredients in a heat-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir.
Continue to microwave in increments of 15 seconds, stirring vigorously in between, until fully melted and smooth.
½ cup water
1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar, divided
1 cups + 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 large egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
Pour the water into a small pot. Pour 1 cup of the sugar and the corn syrup on top of the water. Do not stir. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 250°F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the egg whites and the remaining ⅓ cup sugar. Whip on high speed until the mixture reaches the soft peak stage, 2 to 3 minutes. You will see the egg whites go from a foamy liquid to more opaque white.
With the mixer on medium-low speed, carefully and slowly pour the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites in a steady stream. Once it has all been added, increase the speed to high as quickly as possible. Whisk on high speed for 10 to 12 minutes until the outside of the bowl is room temperature and the marshmallow is thick and glossy with stiff peaks.
Add the vanilla bean paste and mix on high speed until combined.
For best results, use immediately.
Prepare the marshmallow fluff and reheat the milk chocolate ganache if it has been refrigerated. Place half of the cookies, upside down, on a baking sheet. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the marshmallow fluff on each cookie, leaving a ½-inch border of exposed cookie around the outer edge.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a No. 824 or 1M star tip with the remaining marshmallow fluff. Pipe a thick circle of marshmallow fluff around the border of each iced cookie to create a well for the ganache, leaving a ¼- inch border of exposed cookie around the outer edge.
On a clean, unlined baking sheet, lightly toast the marshmallow fluff with a culinary torch.
Fill each well with 2 tablespoons of the milk chocolate ganache, being careful not to go above the top of the marshmallow border. Place the remaining cookies on top of the filled cookies to form sandwiches. Using even pressure, gently push down on the tops to form a bond with the filing.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Excerpted from Cake & Loaf by Nickey Miller and Josie Rudderham. 2022 Nickey Miller and Josie Rudderham. Photography by Nickey Miller. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.