THUNDER BAY - Julie Einarson’s baking career started early - when she was 12, she asked for cookies and her mother handed her a recipe. However, it took a while for her to take it seriously as a profession. She ended up working in a pharmacy, where creativity wasn’t exactly a job requirement. She would go home and do what she enjoyed most - baking - and one day she wondered if she could do this for a living. The answer was tantalizingly obvious - why not?
In 1999 she moved to Winnipeg to attend Red River College and took Commercial Baking. After graduation, she lived there for nine years but she moved back to Thunder Bay, catering cakes, muffins, cookies and every kind of sweet baked good. “I baked out of my house until it got to be too much and I had to find a spot,” she explains.
Sweet Escape Cake Cafe and Bakery opened on March 2013 and it has become a popular place for after-dinner dessert (it helps that she stays open until 10 pm,) knitters curled up with a plate of cake, a mug and a ball of yarn, groups of friends looking to satisfy their sweet tooth and people walking in to buy up whatever Einarson bakes.
Her most popular cakes are the raspberry dream cake and the seven heaven chocolate cake, both of which are usually on display. She has a rotating cast of other irresistible sweets such as pecan pie, various cheesecakes, cinnabon cake (white cake with cinnamon swirls and cream cheese icing with caramel) and lemon poppy seed cake as well as cupcake and macarons of various flavours and colours.
“We easily go through 60 pounds of butter a week, and probably about 50 dozen eggs at least.”
A new ingredient she test-drove on St. Urho’s day this year might become an annual tradition. In honour of St. Urho - who allegedly (if a fictional being can be alleged to have done something) drove grasshoppers out of Finland, saving Finnish vineyards - she baked cricket cupcakes with grape jelly inside. “It was easy, it’s a powder. It didn’t change the texture and smells a little earthy,” she says. “People thought it was fun, some people were scared to try it. It was a fun little experiment and we’ll try to do it again next year.”
In addition to all the sumptuous sweets selling like hot cakes, she still caters cakes for special occasions. Summer is a busy time, with a wedding cake or two every weekend throughout the season. Still, baking never gets old. “Whenever people ask, ‘are you sick of baking?’ I’m like, ‘no, I’m not sick of baking, I’m just sick of all the dishes!’”