We were contacted by the folks at Crave Bake Shop to check out their cupcakes (see our disclosure policy here). Crave was started by a professionally trained pastry chef who, because of an auto-immune disorder, is gluten-free. They started making cupcakes last summer, and produce made-to-order cakes, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls. They do not currently have a retail space, but they sell items at farmers markets, and take orders on their website. They do take special orders like birthday cakes, cupcake pyramids, and wedding cakes. The best piece of news is that their kitchen is dedicated gluten-free. Woo hoo!
In the picture above is (left to right, top to bottom): Lemon Bar, Peppermint Patty, Snickerdoodle, Skinny Vanilla Latte, Lavender Outrageous, PB&J, Peppermint Patty, PB&J, Lemon Bar, Candy Cane, Snickerdoodle, Gingerbread. These are mini cupcakes or “shooters.” Crave also makes regular-sized cupcakes.
Normally when you order from Crave, they sell their cupcakes by the dozen per flavor. Since they wanted us to try out a bunch of different flavors, we got a box with quite a bit of variety, which they said were extras left over from the orders they put together on that day. We felt really lucky to get a bunch of different kinds to try, because they were all very interesting and delicious.
Yes, before I get into the descriptions of the cupcakes that we got, I should say that they are really awesome. You would never know that they’re gluten-free. The flavors are amazing. The cupcakes are adventurous. The cake part is light and fluffy. The icing part is light and creamy. These are the best dessert items I’ve had since a particular mind-blowing Panna Cotta I had in Venice during our recent trip to Italy. They’re also different from most store-bought cupcakes in that they don’t use shortening. So if you’re the kind of person who makes frosting with butter, these are going to taste like homemade (except that they’re more fancy than most of us will make at home).
So let’s talk about some of these. The descriptions in quotes after the names are from their website.
Lemon Bar: “lemon cake topped with lemon cream cheese icing.” – It definitely has a more lemony taste than your usual lemon cake. This was one of my favorites, but then I love lemon anything.
Peppermint Patty: “chocolate peppermint cake with dark chocolate peppermint ganache” – Tastes a lot like a peppermint patty on top of cake.
Snickerdoodle: “cinnamon vanilla cake topped with cinnamon buttercream” – This may very well have been our favorite. It’s really just amazing. The flavors go so well together. Although it looks like it has a lot of frosting on it, the frosting is so light that you never notice.
Skinny Vanilla Latte: “vanilla cake soaked with espresso syrup, topped with fat free meringue topping” – Very clever and inventive cupcake.
Lavender Outrageous: “lavender-infused vanilla cake with lavender buttercream” – Definitely for fans of lavender. Other than lavender candy, I don’t think I’ve had a lavender confection. Fortunately, this is far better than the candy!
PB&J: “vanilla cake with jelly center and peanut butter french buttercream” – Yes this tastes exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (except sweeter and with butter).
Candy Cane: “vanilla cake with crushed candy cane pieces, topped with peppermint buttercream”
Gingerbread: “gingerbread cake topped with cinnamon-cream cheese frosting” – This tastes exactly like freshly baked gingerbread men did when I was a kid. Exactly like it. For a moment I was transported to the kitchen of the house I grew up in. It’s rather uncanny.
Here’s a picture of the Skinny Vanilla Latte with a couple of bites out of it, so you can see the texture. We were told that these cupcakes freeze well, so of course we had to test it. We had a little trouble thawing them out in the microwave, because it only takes a couple of seconds, but they definitely do freeze well.
We also got to sample their cinnamon roll, which was really amazing. I’ve been mourning the loss of cinnamon rolls since I became gluten-free. New Cascadia Traditional has a gluten-free cinnamon roll (which I reviewed here) but it’s disappointing. Crave’s cinnamon roll has lots of cinnamon and has an amazing frosting. I was wishing that they had brought us more!
If you check their website, you’ll see that they have some really adventurous flavors. Persian Love Cake, Orange Tarragon, Venetian Crepe, Wow! File this under miscellaneous: We asked if they had a favorite gluten-free restaurant in Portland and they said Andina and also the Outback Steakhouse. They are working on a new website that will have more information about their products and which is expected sometime early 2010. We’re looking forward to more from Crave Bake Shop.
We want to know: Have you had any of Crave’s goods? Are there other places in Portland Oregon to get great gluten-free bakery items? Let us know in the comments.
Times we have visited: 1 (so we feel OK about our score.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars – wow!
Price compared to “regular”: Not sure