Magic, Toronto Blueberry Buns & The Harbord Bakery

Magic, Toronto Blueberry Buns & The Harbord Bakery

Magic – it’s everywhere. Those moments that cannot be captured with words, food, photographs or paint. The things that just are. For me it’s all too easy to rush through mornings overlooking the twinkle of golden that is over almost as quickly as it began. With a million little fires to put out, slowing down can seem like a pain in the arse. BUT – there is nothing quite like becoming part of this beautiful – rugged – messy – tough old world.

Recently my momma and I compiled all of my old addresses for a Canadian citizenship application. It’s hard to believe but I resided in over 30 various houses, apartments and couches in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Indiana, California, London – England and Toronto – Ontario?! hahahaha I was wondering what the hell the government employee that got my application thought?? Maybe I don’t want to know…as a matter of fact I still have not heard from them…hmmmm. Gypsy life is instinctive as I have no idea what it would be like to have a hometown. It must be nice to have that security, a high school reunion that is unmissable and local spots you can call your own. For me new places – the taste of the water and the smell of the air is addictive. To this day MLS holds the key to treasures and possibilities yet unexplored.


Finding magic in each and every new place helps make big transitions easier. Kids get that in a way that adults unfortunately “unlearn” over the years. They live in a world where everything is possible. We all need a dose of that! Toronto holds many such treasures for me and the Harbord Bakery is particularly golden. It was established in 1945 by the Kosower family who run it as a family business to this day. Rafi and Susan still adhere to the original recipes and welcome each and every customer like a member of their own family. When we lived on Borden Street, my son Simon and I would grab a loaf of Challah, a cherry danish, a tuna sandwich and if we were very, very lucky – and it ’twas the season – a Toronto blueberry bun. We still trek all the way to the Annex to catch up with them. Here is my ode the Harbord Bakery. If you are ever in the area it’s not to be missed.

The Harbord Bakery
The Harbord Bakery
Toronto Wild Blueberry Buns With Frangelico
Toronto Wild Blueberry Buns With Frangelico

Toronto Blueberry Buns (schritzlach) with Frangelico adapted from the Joy of Kosher by Jamie Geller
Dough Ingredients
1 (1 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour (the original recipe calls for 1/2 all purpose and 1/2 wheat – I did not do this)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter (the original asked for margarine)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling Ingredients
2 cups frozen wild blueberries (we are out of season and I am not a fan of the blueberries that resemble grapes!)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water (I preferred my filling thicker than the original recipe)
2 Tbsp of Frangelico
1/4 teaspoon salt

Bun Glaze Ingredients
1 egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup maple sugar
* Preheat oven to 375 degrees

The key to these buns is thinly rolled out dough. If you don’t take time with this – they will turn out “bready”. Also, just to warn you – the directions make more blueberry filling that you will need. This is NOT a bad thing as it tastes great on toast! I prepared the filling first so it is cooled and ready for the dough.

In a medium saucepan bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat and add the sugar, dissolved corn starch, Frangelico, salt and blueberries. Simmer on a medium low heat until the mixture thickens. Let cool before you fill the buns. The Frangelico adds a subtle toasted hazelnut flavour that goes really well with the blueberries in my humble opinion.

Toronto Blueberry Buns
Toronto Blueberry Buns

In a small bowl mix the yeast and water together, wait until the mixture activates (or bubbles). This should take about 5 minutes. In a Kitchenaid mixer add the sifted dry ingredient, then add the butter, yeast/water mixture, eggs and vanilla. Beat the dough until it is satiny. Let the dough stand for about 30 minutes before rolling it out.

Turn the dough out on to a well floured area and roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. NO THICKER! The dough should be cut into 5 inch squares. Put 1 tbsp of filling in the centre of each square. Warning – do not overfill no matter how tempted you may be. The buns will split open and make a burned mess. Fold the squares in half and pinch closed with the tines of a fork. Be diligent when you do this – again this will seal the filling in to prevent spillage. Cover the buns with a tea towel and let rise for 30 minutes.

Before you bake them – brush with the egg glaze and sprinkle with maple sugar. Bake until golden about 15 minutes.

Toronto Blueberry Buns
Toronto Blueberry Buns

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