Product Review: Crave Bake Shop

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!

Crave Gluten-Free Cupcakes

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.

Gluten-free cupcake

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

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.

Crave Skinny Vanilla Latte Cupcake

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


  1. says

    Wow, those look awesome!! We need to get them a storefront! I just got the Babycakes cookbook, and see no reason a bakery like that can’t work here. did they say if they’re going to get a retail space? And can I just say again, I want your job 😉 Happy new year!!

  2. Robert Pater says

    Had some at a party, then ordered 2 dozen mini cupcakes from Crave Bake Shop directly. Tremendous response from guests. Love the variety and “difference” in flavors. Melts in your mouth.

  3. says

    Since I happened to read this… We will go retail when our business has matured to that point. Until then, custom orders are all we can do. Retail space doth not a cupcake make!! :) Thanks for the support btw.

  4. Cathy says

    I’ve been trying to get New Seasons in LO to carry CRAVE cupcakes because I am hopeless at baking gluten-free. Maybe this great review will push them to the decision for which I am lobbying!

  5. says

    BTW Dave- the best way to thaw out the Shooters (if you indeed have to freeze them) is on the counter at room temperature for about an hour before you eat them: buttercream tends to get melty in the microwave!

  6. Chris says

    I saw a program on tv of competing bakers making cupcakes. The owner of Crave was there making unbelieveablly delicious gluten free desserts. My son has a myriad of allergies including wheat gluten. I would like nothing more than to stop in and purchase your treats, but I reside in a small Minnesota town. Do you have a cookbook, or could you recommend one. Thanks for yor time.

  7. says

    Thanks for all the gluten-free love, my friends! We are working on a cookbook (testing away) and hope for it to come out by summer of 2011. In the meantime, we occasionally post recipes and baking tips on our blog at or on our facebook page (Crave Bake Shop). Come visit us!

  8. Jill Boudreau says

    I had the pleasure of getting a dozen of the cupcakes from Crave last week. They do have a retail location at 460 5th St. in Lake Oswego. I got a variety of cupcakes in a “deal” but have to say any of the chocolate are a taste of heaven. Flavor, texture, creamy buttercream frosting all added up to a perfect cupcake. My second favorite was the spice while the white cake came in last. Definitely will go there again to check out other products.

  9. G & L says

    Bad Experience at Crave Bake Shop. We’re sad to report after reading other reviews… When asked “What are cake bites…” they respond with “pieces of cake covered in chocolate.” When we finally tried one we realized it is just cookie or cake dough on the inside. It is comparable to oversweet marzipan. They do not offer samples. They were frozen and not fresh. They said they were only 2-3 days old. We tried to use a groupon that ended on a day they were closed. The next day they would not honor it and blamed Groupon for poor management. We They would not give us just the value of what I paid. At $18 a dozen we felt we should have had a better experience. We will not go back! We rate this personally LOW for business and product.

  10. says

    It is a treat when I venture to lake Oswego and grab a snack (or two) from Crave. I can eat gluten, but grab these glutenfree snacks for a close friend. However, my taste buds do not disappoint. I looooove the peanut butter rolls, black and white cupcakes and birthday cake. Omg. Best bakery in greater PDX.


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