Breaking Bread

 

Baguette, muffins, cookies. Oh my! Photo via Bakery Sate.

Baguette, muffins, cookies. Oh my! Photo via Bakery Sate.

 

Eric Ho puts his engineering brain to the test with experimental French pastries made fresh at his newly-opened Commercial Drive bakery.

 

Bakery Sate
2879 Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC
(604) 506-0290

 

By Sarah Berman

 

Saturday only in limited quantity—custard chocolate brioche. Via Bakery Sate.

Saturday only in limited quantity—custard chocolate brioche. Via Bakery Sate.

 

Tucked a few blocks south of the Commercial Drive Skytrain station is a bright new bakery owned by Eric Ho, a former engineer in consumer electronics.

 

If you thought someone who designed phones for 13 years might not be savvy in the kitchen, you’d be dead wrong. Bakery Sate is a highly creative kitchen featuring brioche, breakfast pastry, sweets and sandwiches—all made with an experimenter’s twist. One of the signature items is Paris Brest, made with sliced almonds, choux pastry and praline cream in the middle. It’s a dream dessert for anyone with a sweet tooth.

 

Ham and cheese sandwiches with fresh French bread. Via Bakery Sate.

Ham and cheese sandwiches with fresh French bread. Via Bakery Sate.

 

One day in 2012, Ho says he decided he couldn’t work in the tech industry any longer. He switched gears, started training as a professional baker, and has never looked back. As it turns out, his detail-oriented science background was an asset for his bake shop. “I’m really good at math, and in baking there’s a lot of math,” explains Ho during a particularly busy Saturday afternoon at Bakery Sate. His tinkering tendencies led to the development of his own gluten-free flour blend.

 

“I tried a lot of flours that you can buy off the shelf, but they’re not satisfactory,” Ho says of the flattening, crumbly test batches. “So in the end I spent a few months at home researching.”

 

French style canele—crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside. Photo via Bakery Sate.

French style canele—crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside. Photo via Bakery Sate.

 

This reporter sampled one of Ho’s gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, which was fluffy and browned to perfection. Other gluten-free items include the matcha black sesame cakes, the cheesecakes with gluten-free crust and vanilla bean marshmallows.

 

“It’s white and brown rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch,” he explains. “It’s more the ratio of the flours that makes the difference.” Ho also uses alternative flours for his muffins—though you wouldn’t know it by the fluffy bulbus creations behind the shop’s glass counter.

 

Classic Paris Brest freshly baked in-house. Choux ring with praline cream filling from Bakery Sate.

Classic Paris Brest freshly baked in-house. Choux ring with praline cream filling from Bakery Sate.

 

Bakery Sate just opened its doors in July, attracting a clientele of nearby residents, offices, and the occasional offshoot from two nearby marijuana dispensaries. Just a half block away, the BC Pain Society and Cannabis Culture dispensaries send over wide-eyed young people in search of munchies. Though not part of his business plan, Ho welcomes these new customers.

 

The location is surprisingly spacious with ample seating for groups and singles. Ho’s wife Jenny designed the shop’s interior, offering customers a large window into the bustling pastry kitchen. An accountant by trade, Jenny joined Eric in pursuing creative passions—and the couple’s dedication shows. From the perfectly-placed displays to the locally-roasted JJ Bean coffee selection, the shop has a welcoming, local feel that defies its recent beginnings.

 

If Bakery Sate’s first month of business is any indication, it won’t be long before the bake shop is a household name on Commercial Drive.

Eric Ho

Eric Ho