Photos C/O Razan Samara
By: Andrew Mrozowski
Tucked away on Barton Street East is an unexpected pop of colour that catches the eye when passing by the old grey brick buildings. Immediately when you walk through the door you are greeted by the smell of succulent cake. On your left is a vibrant mural created by Hamilton-artist Trinity Bolduc, capturing the very essence of Crumbled. Owner Dom Pugliese is likely to be mad at work trying to fill walk-in and online orders, but he is always willing to stop and chat.
Gaining experience working on the corporate side of baking in Toronto, Pugliese found himself yearning for a change of pace. Pugliese decided to leave Toronto and move to Hamilton with the hopes of creating something new for himself.
“I wanted to open a bakery for like eight years, but only thought of a traditional bakery — breads and breakfast things, or just dessert. I had a vision of even doing a café with all the cakes made in-store and do coffee,” said Pugliese.
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While working at Cake and Loaf Bakery, Pugliese started to learn about how Hamilton operates and meet with locals. On the side, he would make cakes for family and friends at home. He then would put all the scraps into a bowl and toss them in the fridge only to consistently come home to find his boyfriend eating the crumbled bits. Suddenly, an idea sparked in Pugliese’s mind. This was the inspiration for Crumbled.
In June 2018, Pugliese actively searched for the perfect location. He knew he wanted a bakery on Barton Street East.
“Everyone is doing their own thing [on Barton Street East] and it’s unique. To open now, when it’s starting, but not there yet, to be a part of that is huge,” said Pugliese.
Crumbled Bakery serves gourmet deconstructed cake in a cup. Starting with their core menu, Pugliese has developed a different take on classic flavours with the “I Dream of Vanilla Bean”, “Chocolate Chaos” and “Red, White and Velvet” cake bowls.
Each month, a small number of specialty seasonal offerings get added to the menu. For March, customers are able to get lemon meringue cake, a vegan Snickers cake and a cream egg brownie cake. If you want a little more diversity, Crumbled also offers a make your own bowl where you can choose two cake bases, frosting and any toppings. The bakery also offers full-sized cakes made to order.
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“We’re doing something different that nobody has done,” said Pugliese. “It’s cool because it’s like a sundae bar but with cake. You can choose your own toppings, you can make it your own and it’s great for customers who want variety.”
Currently, Pugliese is the only worker at Crumbled and does all the baking and assembly himself. He uses fresh ingredients and makes his cake creations from scratch every day.
“That’s where the corporate side helped me. I’ve learned how to use both my hands at the same time. It can be hard with planning and production but that’s where Cake and Loaf refined me. Now, I’m able to bake while the day goes on, the frostings don’t take long to make. You have a recipe for a simple buttercream and you can add different flavours to it. It’s like repurposing,” explained Pugliese.
“I want people to know what real baking is. We use real ingredients and it’s all made from scratch every day. That’s what’s great about Hamilton. That’s everywhere. Everybody is doing things from scratch and doing things differently. You’re getting something unique wherever you’re going,” Pugliese added.
Crumbled bakery is the first of its kind and momentum only seems to be growing more and more. With a great atmosphere, delicious cake and a great host, Crumbled is part of a community working to add something special and sweet to Barton Street East.