My Main Street-Manal Bashir Pastry Co.

A Piece of Cake

Manal Bashir has loved everything about desserts for as long as she can remember. And now, with a booming shop and kitchen of her own, her career is poised to be as sweet as her creations.

Owner, Manal Bashir in their new space in Vaughan

In 2019, the Manal Bashir Pastry Co. team took part in a local wedding show, and they brought their pièce de resistance with them. At their booth stood a nearly four-foot-tall cake that looked just like a sweetheart-cut wedding gown, complete with intricate flowers and detailing. At first look, attendees thought the artistic piece was actually a dress. “But as they got closer, they realized it was a cake. And when they stopped to look, they got to taste how good that wedding dress tasted,” says Bashir, the founder of her eponymous luxury cake shop.

The artist behind such an elaborate, opulent—and delicious—cake is a woman who’s spent 15 years in the food industry, and says she knew early on she wanted to pursue her passion for all things dessert. “I’ve always had a sweet tooth and grew baking boxed cake mixes with my sisters,” she says. While wedding and celebration cakes have long been at the centre of her craft, Bashir honed her skills in fine dining and dessert, and today, her shop executes customized high-quality cakes and pastries. “Our goal is to provide beautifully hand-crafted cakes and desserts that taste better than they look,” she says.

After learning French techniques, plated desserts and the ins and outs of how retail shops and bakery kitchens work, Bashir says she felt it was time to go out on her own. Then the pandemic hit. “My husband and I went back to the drawing board and decided to sell our products through our website. We started off with special-occasion pop-ups and they were well-received,” she says. “Once business picked up, we realized it was time for a permanent spot and found a commissary kitchen to call our own.” She chose Vaughan because not only is she a resident, but she believes locals appreciate the “mom-and-pop style” of small businesses. Vaughan’s diversity also plays a role. “I bring my South Asian culture into my business and provide people with flavours and desserts they haven’t necessarily tried before. Our community has received my menu with open arms.”

Owner, Manal Bashir

So far, business has been booming. The cake shop was featured in Toronto Star and Toronto Life, Bashir and her team appeared on the Food Network’s “The Big Bake” and they’re renovating their brick-and-mortar location in a unique heritage home. The grant and advice she got from participating in My Main Street was invaluable in terms of understanding her demographics. “After being exclusively online, opening a store requires meticulous research and planning. I thought the most helpful part of the My Main Street program was the market research analysis done by the Vaughan Business and Entrepreneurship Centre. It was very thorough, and my marketing team has been able to reference it to create our advertising plans.”

Bashir says their first location won’t be their last—she plans to open smaller locations all over the Greater Toronto Area so more customers can say “I do” to her incredibly delectable baked goods.

55 Glen Cameron Road, unit 9, Vaughan