City Bites

INTRODUCING: Thimble Cakes

Bank Street's brand new cupcake cafe carves out a mini-niche within the seemingly insatiable market for sweet cakes

The cutie-pie ‘cupcakery’ craze continues. First there was Isobel & Company on Beechwood, then Auntie Loos on Bronson, next came The Flour Shoppe in the Glebe. Am I missing one or two? There are probably dozens more home bakers who sell cupcakes as a wholesale and/or special-order business, and even more frosted darlings to be found at dessert shops and supermarkets around town. Let’s just say, if you’ve got a hankering for a cupcake, you’ve got options.

And now, there’s one more. Thimble Cakes, a cupcake café, occupies a former gym next the Herb & Spice on Bank Street in Centretown. Where there were once barbells and elliptical machines, there is now vintage-inspired seating, girly chandeliers, buttercream frosting, and mismatched teacups.

When I stopped by earlier this week, owner Wendy Velthoven was listening to show tunes while preparing spiced buttercream frosting for her pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes. In another life, she buys and renovates houses and keeps them as rental properties. But with cupcakes she says she has found a new love. When she learned that two out of ten people have some kind of food allergy, she decided to enhance her lineup of traditional baking with recipes that are gluten-free as well as others that are free of egg, dairy, and sugar.

So where does the name Thimble Cakes come from? The little girl in Peter Pan, also named Wendy, gives Peter a thimble and he thinks it’s a kiss, says Van Velthoven, “The thimble is a gesture, a little gift.” In addition to regular-sized cupcakes ($3.26 each), Van Velthoven sells miniature cupcakes (for 83 cents each) that are not much bigger than a thimble.

Thimble Cakes, 369 Bank St., 613.889.9017

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  • M.C.

    My wife and I stopped in last weekend (just after they opened) and tried several cupcakes. The chocolate with mint icing thimblecakes were great, but the orange ones with strawberry cream icing were epic. I wish them great luck at that very uncertain location.

  • Anne

    I stopped by this place this evening to pick up some birthday cupcakes. They officially win the Ottawa cupcake game! Absolutely perfect cupcakes. I totally agree with the person above – the orange with strawberry cream icing are AMAZING.

  • Not impressed

    So not impressed. Way, way over priced and poor customer service. Stopped by on my way home @ 5pm. They only had one gluten-free cupcake left, when I asked if they had more, reply: “I can make more in the back.” Right, sure you can, while there are 4 other people waiting in line behind me? Sorry, you don’t have time for that and neither do I. If you want to make money girls, be prepared for the post work rush!!!! You lost out on a sale of at least a half dozen of your tiny over priced cupcakes. You’re running a business, not a bake night for your friends. My take: don’t bother.

  • KS

    Love love love this place! The cakes are good, moist, even the gluten free. The presentation is cute. But the icing is beyond description..not too sweet, like it’s been whipped with air. I’ve told a dozen people about it. And YES they will make up one for you if they have run out. No need to worry…Stay Calm. Eat a Cupcake!!

  • Loves cupcakes

    Stopped by today and bought 3 cupcakes. I loved the chocolate chilli cupcake. The service was amazing. The lovely lady at the front counter took the time to explain each cupcake to me and was very friendly. I’ll definitely be back in the future!

  • Dear Not Impressed

    Dear Unimpressed Customer,
    First off, you should know that this is a new business that is just getting on their feet. Last time I was in the shop they were still working out some kinks, like how much to make on a day to day basis. If you have ever been a part of a new and small business you would know that sometimes when you aren’t prepared to handle an unexpected crowd, things can get kind of hectic.
    That said, the cupcakes are fabulous and the staff is too. I have always enjoyed my time there, and always had great service. Perhaps you could give a small new business a second chance before running to your laptop to criticize, as you obviously caught them on a rough, hectic hour. But whatever, your loss – more delicious cupcakes for the rest of us!
    I give this place 6 out of 5 stars. Delicious!!

  • Lucy

    Hey Not Impressed,

    A shop owner offered to BAKE you more cupcakes and you turn around and post something like that? I think that’s stellar customer service. I’ve never been to the shop but I’m going to go buy that measly half dozen order you passed up.

    What a great way to support local small business!

    Store Owners: I am certain from these reviews, a lot of us will support you.

    All the best!

  • Cate

    My coworker brought some cupcakes to work today from Thimble, unfortunately I couldn’t try them because they weren’t gluten free but I’m super excited to see that GF options are becoming more common! :) I will be stopping by one of these days!

  • Krista

    These are pretty good, but definitely over priced. More so something I would buy for a cute surprise for a friend. I would much rather go next door to Herb and Spice and buy one of the vegan cupcakes they sell there from Aunti Loo’s bakery. They are cheaper, just as good, bigger, and have more icing.

  • Wendy


  • Bbee

    Overpriced, and I was not impressed with the taste, the cake part was very dry and tasted more like a muffin than a cake. The cupcakes at the Flour Shoppe are much tastier and cheaper too!

  • Nicole

    These cupcakes are the best I have ever tasted!!! I am not normally a cake person, but definitely will spend the extra coin to indulge in these treats from time to time. The flavours are always interesting and the icing is heavenly yummy, not too much & not too sweet. The icing compliments the cake better than other cupcakes I have had around town.

    The ingredients are superbe! EVEN THE GLUTEN FREE ones!!!

    Oh! And I tried their homemade ice cream the other day and WOW. I definitely recommend trying a scoop! The blueberry pie and the dairy-free coconut milk chocolate were delicious!!!

    I am not sure what the poster above problem was, obviously someone having a bad day and truly needing a cupcake. The handful of times I have been in the shop I get fantastic and genuinely friendly service. I wish Thimblecakes much success.

  • Lana

    Every parent in Centretown and downtown Ottawa should know the address of this shop.  The shop is completely nut free which is an AMAZING treat for us parents who have children with food allergies.  I would happily pay any price for her cupcakes to be able to share the experience of going to a bakery AND ice cream shop with someone with food allergies.  Honestly, you can’t put a price on that.  We have tried pretty much everything in the store and have never been disappointed.  (Hello chocolate coconut ice cream!)