We recently asked our favourite local bakeries to recommend the loaves they love, then combined those staff picks with some of our own personal favourites, and mapped them all out for your pleasure. For fail-proof deliciousness, we suggest using this guide when embarking on your next bread-seeking mission. Did we miss your favourite? Let us know in the comments below.
Try: True Love Marquis | “It is a certified organic artisan ancient heirloom grain sourdough made with the Marquis wheat, the same wheat that opened the way for Canada to
settle the prairies in the early 1900s. Provided with 100 rare seeds of the original 1904 strain of Marquis, and with the help of local farmers in Agassi we have breathed life back into this heritage wheat. Every loaf is a part of your heritage, a truly important local BC story that takes you back in time, and every slice will melt in your mouth showing you all the flavours BC has to offer.” — Flora Poole, Store Manager.
Try: Multigrain Loaf | “It is good because it is wholesome. Ingredients for the most part are either from BC, as close as Agassiz, or Canadian. It is rich, nutritious and full of flavour. If I had to choose one loaf to eat to survive or one loaf to eat for the rest of my life, that would be the one.” — Vadim Mugerman, Baker.
Try: Double Hydrated Sourdough | “Our housemade miche sourdough stamped with our signature Batard “B” on it. This aromatic sourdough gets most of its flavour from its Organic whole grain rye starter and is one of our favorite loaves here at Batard. With this recipe we can continuously test the strength of our flour by seeing how much water we can add (hence the name)! All of our breads here at Batard are made with only 100% organic flours.” — Sasha Born, Head Baker and Owner.
Try: Caramelized Onion Sourdough | “When you’re craving something with more flavour than our incredibly popular Country Loaf (which is amazing), go for the Caramelized Onion Sourdough. Loaded with slow-roasted onions and cold-fermented for more than 24 hours, this savoury sourdough is perfect with a charcuterie board, grilled cheese or scrambled eggs at breakfast.” — Tracy Steele, Co-owner and Baker.
Try: Seven Seeds Sourdough | “Chef Mark Burton, former pastry chef at Vancouver’s now-shuttered Four Seasons Hotel, offers the goods for sale each Friday out of his Coho Commissary digs. Quickly becoming a cult favourite around town is the Seven Seeds: 60% whole wheat sourdough with cracked wheat berries, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, millet, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, nigella seeds, and natural sea salt. An earthy, tangy loaf hit perfectly by the onion-y, cumin-y goodness of the nigella seeds.” — Kurtis Kolt, Wine Consultant, Scout Reader & Bread Lover.
Try: Peasant Loaf | “In a way, everything started with the Peasant loaf. Its daily preparation remains as a symbol of and thanks to the community that supports it. Simple, wholesome and ever evolving, the Peasant bread of today is a blend of prairie grown red spring wheat & creston valley marquis wheat, sea salt and water. Slow natural leavening lends to the mild sour flavor and excellent keeping quality. All desirable traits of this versatile table loaf.” — Monroe Webb, Baker.
Try: Sourdough | Their Kerrisdale location might be a bit of a destination for some, but Bigsby does do an amazing straight-up sourdough that can also be grabbed at Le Marche St. George if you get there early enough in the day! (Deliveries are small and highly coveted, arriving Wednesday through Saturday, at 10am.)
Try: Sourdough Pan Loaf | This Birds & the Beets menu staple, which serves as a toasted vehicle for all manner of sweet and savoury toppings, is also available to purchase as a whole loaf to go.
Try: House Sourdough | “An all-organic, naturally-leavened sourdough loaf with a slightly nutty and mildly sweet flavour thanks to its 10% rye content.” — Colette & Chris, Owners.
Try: Country loaf | The proliferation of Fife’s staple loaf at small/specialty grocers like HOTRO and the August Market is no happy accident. They take a stubborn, slow approach to their craft using only sustainably grown and organic Canadian grains, and the city’s bread-heads have taken delicious note.
Try: Whole Wheat Sourdough Pan Loaf | “Our team is loving our new Whole Wheat Sourdough Pan Loaf ~ it’s made with 100% Whole Grain Red Spring Wheat Flour and is a 100% hydration dough. It’s unbelievably moist and flavourful, and has become a new customer favourite too.” — Shira McDermott, Owner.
Try: Marble Rye | “It’s a mixture of our sourdough rolled with dark rye. Its an old world flavour with new world methods and ingredients. Its rich, hearty flavour is a perfect match for toast or any sandwich and the crust is toothsome with incredible concentrated flavours. The marble rye isa rare type of loaf in Vancouver and its my go to daily bread” — Aaron Kafka, owner of Kafka’s Coffee and Lil Bird Sandwich Co.
Try: Buckwheat & Oat Sourdough, Challah | “While I love all our loaves (so much!) I have a real soft spot for our buckwheat and oat sourdough. We only make it on the weekends, and it’s so richly flavoured, with almost a custardy texture to the crumb from the cooked oats. I’ll also forever look forward to Fridays for challah. It’s the softest, egg-iest most comforting loaf I can think of. It immediately reminds me of being a kid at the deli near my house in Toronto. Jewish folklore says that the more pieces in your braid the more wealth you bestow onto whoever eats a slice, so we make ours with 6 strands. I’m fairly superstitious.” — Claire Lassam, Owner.
Try: Matchstick Rustic Country Loaf | When Matchstick’s sourdough program – developed by local cook/baker Annabelle Choi – kicked off several years ago, it was still a somewhat anomalous concept for Vancouver cafes. Although that’s changed enormously since, they’re still keeping it tight and sticking to just two solid to-go options –a light rye country and miche loaf (custom order only), baked daily at their Chinatown location.
Try: Chocolate Sourdough | No joke, Nelson’s most decadent loaf is laced with cocoa powder and semisweet chocolate wafers. The price makes it a bit of a splurge but this a worthy indulgence.
Try: puregrain | “puregrain is one of purebread’s latest additions and is made with wholewheat flour, rolled oats, rye, wheat bran, spelt, and sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame, poppy seeds and chia seeds. This bread not only has great flavour & texture, but is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, good fats and fibre for a happy healthy diet.” — Samantha Rich, Operations Director.
Try: Rosemary and Roasted Garlic Sourdough | “Rosemary and Roasted Garlic is a Rising Knead favourite. The combination of fresh rosemary and slow roasted garlic, paired with house milled organic grains makes this loaf a hard one to put down. We can be found at the Van Markets throughout the year.” — Meg Stringfellow, Owner & Baker.
Try: Ancient Grain Sourdough | “My bread I’d recommend is the Ancient Grain Sourdough – a vegan, soft sandwich loaf made of 76% organic wholegrain spelt, einkorn, and kamut/khorasan flours. Our breads are slow-fermented, “real” sourdough using organic, Canadian grown grains – never any sweeteners, fillers, preservatives, or commercial yeast.” — Lauren Ritchie, Owner & Head Baker. *Ritchie’s also does Wednesday Bread Drops for pickup at various locations. Find out more.
Try: Italian Loaf | Savary Island’s Italian Loaf comes doused with a generous amount of oil and a decent sprinkling of rock salt so no additions are needed. On the opposite end of the bread scale – but all equally delicious – Savary’s Raisin Rye ($11) is super-raisiny and cake-like, and the Irish Soda Bread ($10.50) begs for a big bowl of soup. Can’t decide? Half loaves make it manageable to take home a sampling of all.
Try: Baguette | “We consider a baguette to be a baker’s mark. The aggressive appearance of the crust and the pointed ends showcase the baker’s hands while the open and consistent crumb is a demonstration of the baker’s experience.” — Chris Cheung, Owner.
Try: Porridge Loaf | There are a couple of bakeries I know of currently making their own interpretations of this style, but Small Victory’s wholesome hot cereal-inspired bread is the best among them. Their porridge loaf embodies the best parts of oatmeal without the sloppiness, including subtle flavours of nutmeg and cinnamon, plus a perfect ratio of walnuts-to-bread. Bonus: the nuts give off little purple halos that make for especially pretty slices.
Try: Jalapeno Asiago & Cheddar Sourdough | A long-time regular on the local Farmers Market circuit, Sweet Thea’s bakery booth often attracts a long queue of carb-lovers. Track them down and snag a loaf of Jalapeno Asiago & Cheddar – a traditional sourdough bread amped up with generous amounts of cheese and peppers, it’s a meal unto itself.
Try: Sweet Onion Walnut | “Our Walnut Onion loaf is involved with a rich and savoury aroma. The sweet and light flavour crumb is a perfect balance with the toasty crust. Hints of walnut artfully balance the sweet, sweet onion flavour.” — Maria Castro, Marketing Assistant Manager.
Try: Walnut Rye Sourdough | “The loaf that we would like to recommend is not one of our best sellers – but it has become the cult hit of our selection, our Walnut Rye Sourdough. We sometimes get customers at farmers markets buying three loaves at a time. It’s available for pre-order on Fridays and Saturdays for pick up from our commissary kitchen and as part of our regular Farmers Market selection.
Our Walnut Rye Sourdough is made with Nunweilers organic wholegrain rye and red fife flours, and Anita’s organic unbleached all purpose flour. This loaf has a generous helping of toasted walnuts folded through the dough. We also make a walnut paste from toasted walnuts, salt, honey, and olive oil that we run through the dough for a touch of sweetness and extra nuttiness.” — Dayle Kennedy, Co-owner.
Try: Heritage Sourdough “The Heritage Sourdough Loaf is a moist, open crumb sourdough wrapped in a hearty crust. The complex flavour of this loaf comes from the addition of local Red Fife Wheat, which was first grown in Canada by the Fife family in 1842.” — Mary Mackay, Director of Product Innovation & Quality Assurance.
Try: Sesame & Oat Loaf | Myra Maston helms the bready side of things at this Fraserhood laboratory of deliciousness. The toasted sesame encrusted exterior of her sesame and oat loaf adds extra depth and ‘umami’ to the perfectly springy and moist sourdough inside.