Walking into Made for you by Madeleine, you’ll be greeted by a showcase of wholesome treats: oat scones, fruit and nut bran loaves, mini coconut-blueberry cakes, and mini flourless chocolate cakes are just some of the baked goods you’ll find tempting you behind the glass. But you won’t have to feel guilty for indulging. The unique part about Joy’s open-kitchen bakery on King William Street is that she stone-mills just enough flour on site for her small batches, made fresh. Baking since childhood, Joy trained at George Brown College, spent summers working in Italy, and studied holistic nutrition before opening her shop two years ago. I visited Joy on a sunny afternoon to chat over madeleines and a cup of tea.
How did you choose the name of your bakery, Made for you by Madeleine?
The madeleine is the namesake of the bakery. It’s a French traditional pastry baked in a seashell mould. The madeleine pastry was in a novel by Marcel Proust. The main character talks about dipping one of these in his cup of tea and is transported to his childhood and remembers everything from the taste of that. I think that’s what food is: connections.
Nowadays the emphasis on food seems to be on the trendiness of the flavours which doesn’t talk about personal or cultural history. But when you think about food and your favourite things, I bet a lot of those things go back to your childhood or to family traditions or memorable occasions. I think that is as much of what connects people to food as the next big taste.
What is your opinion on all the new restaurants opening up in Hamilton and the “trendiness” of it all?
I think food can be exciting when you present something new, but you are still always building on a base. Without looking to what flavours and traditions have already been around, I don’t think it will be particularly appealing. So much of eating is emotional and personal. There are new blends of flavours and times when people combine different traditions and that’s exciting and interesting. New traditions get created and that’s kind of cool. Then the memory of whoever you were with or why you were there celebrating sticks in your mind too. Ultimately I think food connects to something emotional. That’s where tradition comes from. The idea isn’t just to try to be rigid and stay in the past, but that the past often connects us to some sort of emotional tie.
Is there a specific dessert that you have a fond memory of?
I remember going to Paris and they make this thing called a Religieuse which is like a little cream puff with another little cream puff on top, so it looks like a little nun. It’s really cute. I had never seen one here before so when I went there I just had to try it. That reminds me of Paris.
“Not as often as a person should go.” – Joy on travelling to Paris
Do you go to Paris often?
(Laughs). Not as often as a person should go. I’ve probably spent about three months in Paris but in pieces, maybe four or five trips. Last time I went was three years ago.
What are your favourite bakeries there?
Now I’m going to want to go to Paris! I always like going to Fauchon in Place de la Madeleine. That area is a little food mecca that I like to go to.
Last time I was in Paris I stayed in the 10th district and there was this place called Du Pains and Des Idées in the middle of a residential area, and it was yummy. They did a good job. Apparently it is one of the most respected bakeries in Paris.
All the neighbourhood spots, they might not be as famous, but they’re pretty darn good!
How do you feel about the famous Laduree?
It’s super old school. I find macarons very sugary, personally. But it’s really interesting when you look at some of the novel flavours and pairings that go along with those.
What are your most popular items here?
Cookies are always popular.
Now I’m changing the flavours a bit to go with the season, so there’s more spice happening. Today I made cardamom spice bread pudding.
It’s interesting with baking, I find there are people who come and try new things and others that just get their favourite.
Which one is your go-to?
I like the honey madeleine and the oatmeal cookie.
What are your favourite restaurants/bakeries in Hamilton?
I like Cafe Limoncello on Ottawa street, it’s been there forever! They do a good eggplant parmigiana. Henry Brown’s does nice, dense ice cream and De La Terre has the best bread in the city. And I really like Burnt Tongue: I’d say you can’t go wrong with any soup there.
For me, it’s more about inviting friends over and enjoying a good meal than chasing flavours around the city. That’s not to say there aren’t some great things going on. There are some cool new places. I go out more for atmosphere than for food, per se.
Are you from Hamilton?
No, I’m originally from Toronto. I’ve been here four years. I lived in Toronto almost my whole life. Toronto is getting big and noisy and transit capacity is behind city growth – so hopefully Hamilton will get that right before it gets too big (laughs).
I still wanted to live in a city, so skip over all the suburban cities and you get to Hamilton.
Having always lived in Toronto which is kind of a cold place, you don’t end up really knowing people, whereas living downtown in Hamilton you run into people over and over again. And they’re friendly.
Tell me a little bit about your flour, milled right here.
Everything here is whole grain so you’re getting more fiber than anything made with white flour, which is almost everything in a conventional bakery. You get a heartier texture and more flavour because it’s fresh. You get better texture, taste, and nutrition – but people generally don’t care at first about the nutrition.
We’re told to eat healthier and we may want to do it, but then if nobody is selling you that, then by default you’re eating white bread, pizza dough, pastry and pasta unless you go out of your way to look for it.
Do you position yourself as a healthier bakery?
More nutritious: healthier from the point of view that you’re getting more nutrition. If you take the main ingredient in baking, which is flour, and use whole grain, you’re packing in much more nutrition and flavour – which for me, is the important thing. I also try to limit the fat and sugar a bit and use healthier ingredients.
The main thing is using whole grain – whether it’s wheat, spelt, oats, or rice. While some of these are naturally without gluten, it all goes through the same mill.
Sometimes when people go on a “health” kick, they just take stuff out like gluten or meat, but what are you left eating? And that’s what people often don’t question. You have to look at it from the whole perspective of what’s actually going into your body.
You don’t have to eat what is in a supermarket out of a box; you can eat whole grains with more nutrition. It’s just a better choice than conventional industrial processes. People thinking about a treat could ask themselves if they really need to eat an ooey gooey sugary sweet to be satisfied or if they really just want a dessert than has flavour more than just sweetness.
Joy Jones promotes healthy food in our community through Community Food Centers and supporting local suppliers. She sources her organic grain from Ontario farmers through Oak Manor Farms and milk, cream, eggs, and butter from Hewitt’s dairy in nearby Hagersville.
In addition to her ready-to-eat showcase, Joy offers a catering menu, buttercream cake menu and hands-on baking classes at Made for you by Madeleine! She also sells her homemade granola, graham crackers, and biscotti in store, plus assorted local teas. You can even buy her flour to bake your creations at home!