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

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery New Location

We finally got a chance to visit the New Cascadia Traditional Bakery on Saturday. At around noon we got on our bikes and rode down to their new location. It’s at 1700 SE 6th Ave at SE Market. So that’s on 6th, just two blocks south of Hawthorne. I was a little unfamiliar with where it was. It’s over in the slightly industrial area down between SE 7th and SE Grand. It’s around the Paper Zone but a little further south.

View Larger Map

New Cascadia Traditional Bakery

They look like they’re still moving in and working on making the place more comfortable. The great thing is that they’re offering coffee and espresso drinks, so now you can sit down and have a nice gluten-free treat with a drink. They will also be setting up outdoor seating very soon. Like their NW outlet often was, there was a line to get to the counter.

Gluten Free Baked Goods

Gluten-Free Coffee Cake

Most of the items have signs letting you know if they contain any common allergens. For instance, the gluten-free coffee cake here contains butter, eggs, and nuts. We both got lattes. Sienna got a regular latte and I got a soy latte. They were both awesome. We also got a scone and a piece of coffee cake. Unfortunately, they didn’t have any cinnamon rolls left. Since my last review of one of their gluten-free cinnamon rolls was less than enthusiastic, I wanted to try one that was fresh from the source.

Delicious Latte

Gluten-Free Currant Scone

Gluten-Free Coffee Cake

My coffee cake was awesome. It was crumbly, sweet, and had the right amount of cinnamon. We also both liked the scone. I normally don’t like anything even resembling a raisin in any kind of baked good (especially cookies) but was able to put that aside for the sake of this review.

The real star of the show, however, was the service. Everybody was friendly and enthusiastic. When we asked about sitting outside, our barrista offered to help carry a table out for us. We bought a pizza crust (review coming later) and accidentally ripped it while putting it in our bike bag. When we took it back inside to ask them if there was a way to fix it, they gave us a new one for free, which was amazingly generous.

We’ve been reviewing a lot of places that might be a little risky for people who are really seriously gluten-intolerant, so it’s nice to be able to recommend a place without reservations, because it’s totally gluten-free and the facility is gluten-free. You should go check it out! Go here for more New Cascadia Traditional Bakery reviews.

News Bite: Gluten-Free Father’s Day Brunch at Sweetpea Baking Company

We know it’s kind of late notice, but we found out that the Sweetpea Baking Company on SE Stark Street in Portland is experimenting with gluten-free brunches, and on this Sunday, Father’s Day, they will be serving a gluten-free brunch from 9 AM to Noon.

They have a blog and update it with details of what will be on the menu. Click here to see information on their brunches. Here’s the blog post that caught Sienna’s eye. I haven’t sampled their food but our beautiful and talented Head of Research, Sienna, has had one of their gluten-free soy-free pumpkin ginger muffins and thought it was delicious. (Did I mention that Sweetpea is a vegan bakery?)

Sweetpea Baking Company
1205 SE Stark Street
Portland Oregon
503-477-5916

http://sweetpeabaking.com/

Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger: Vegan Lemon Coconut Cream Scones

This post is part of a gluten-free blog event that Sea over at the Book of Yum put together. For this month’s Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger event, I’ve adopted Gina at Gluten Free Gourmand. I was intrigued by her Gluten-Free Vegan Coconut Cream Scones. Like us, Gina lives in Portland, Oregon. She also sells photography on Etsy.

I have to admit that I was more intrigued by this recipe because it used coconut cream than I was by the fact that it’s vegan. The scones are very easy to make. Once you get your flour mix together, it’s just a matter of five other ingredients and getting the moisture content right. Gina’s recipe just specifies that you use your favorite gluten-free flour mix. I emailed her and asked if a bread mix would work. She said that just about any mix would work, but said that it’s better if the flour mix doesn’t have xanthan gum.

We have a bread mix we like, but I decided that it would be interesting to try this with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour. Here are the ingredients: Garbanzo Bean Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Flour, White Sorghum Flour, and Fava Bean Flour. A quarter cup of the mix has 100 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of dietary fiber, and 3 grams of protein. On the plus side, it doesn’t have any xanthan gum. On the minus side, I figured that the Garbanzo and Fava beans were going to impart a lot of flavor into the mix. I debated trying Trader Joe’s Gluten Free Pancake and Waffle Mix instead, but decided to stick with the Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mix.

Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour Mix

(I bought a beautiful artichoke today.) Gina’s recipe calls for coconut cream. Specifically, you get a can of coconut milk and scoop the fatty cream off the top. By the time you get to the bottom of the cream, you’ll have about as much as the recipe calls for. Mmmmmm. Coconut. Here I’ve added the orange zest.

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Did I also mention that I decided to make half of the batch with Gina’s Kumquat Glaze? Here are some kumquats and lemon juice in an orange bowl.

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We ran into trouble with the amount of flour needed. The first time I made the dough disk to cut into scones, the disk literally sagged out of shape. I had to fold in a whole cup more flour to get the right consistency, which Gina specifies as “barely holding together.” I was panicking too, because I think with scones you’re supposed to mix as little as possible. I was actually kind of careful measuring the coconut cream out, so I’m thinking that the unexpected wetness of the dough was due to using a different flour mix.

We got it together, though.

Gluten Free Scone Pile

Here they are fresh out of the oven, eight minutes later.

Gluten Free Coconut Creme Scones

Lucky for us, the scones still turned out wonderfully light, flaky, and crumbly. They are really awesome broken into pieces with jam. As I expected, they do have a slight beany aftertaste, which does go OK with jam, but isn’t so hot when you’re eating the scones by themselves. (For the record, Sienna doesn’t notice the bean aftertaste, and between the two of us, she usually has the more discerning palate.) I think that the Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Baking Flour would be a lot more appropriate for use with savory foods. So something like a dinner biscuit or a crust for a meat pie. Maybe I’ll try them again with the Trader Joe’s mix. As for the recipe, I think it’s very clever to come up with the substitution of coconut cream for butter and cream. We’ll be enjoying these scones all week.

We’ll definitely try more recipes from Gluten Free Gourmand in the future. Gina just posted a pancake recipe. Everybody here should know how much I love gluten free pancakes. I would definitely recommend both her site and Book of Yum to anybody on a gluten free diet. Thanks to Sea at the Book of Yum for putting this blog event together!

Gluten-Free Dessert at Pix Patisserie! Wow!

When you’re a foodie, life can be a little like bear hunting. Sometimes you get the bear. Sometimes the bear gets you. But then sometimes… Sometimes you go looking for the bear and find yourself confronted with a piece of food that has transcended normal food preparation and has become a work of art. You relish the experience, but have a little sadness because you know that you’re not going to have it this good maybe ever again, or, if you’re lucky, not until the next time you come back.

Abandon Hope! Wow your gluten-free diet is doomed.

A few notes about Pix Patisserie: The atmosphere is playful and energetic. The layout is confusing but that fits somehow. There are sock monkeys and paper lanterns hanging all over the place. There is a display case with fine chocolates in the back. There is another display case with desserts by the register. Although it isn’t obvious, you are supposed to sit and be waited upon. The wait staff knew what I meant when I said gluten-free and were able to tell us what they had that fit the description. They serve beer and wine. They are open until 2 AM. The coffee was far better than Papa Haydn’s but still not as good as we would have liked (considering we live in Portland Oregon and this is a dessert place.) People-watchers will love this place. The staff is friendly. The music was cool.

Gluten-free items

The Aphrodite – Cherry mousse, chocolate mousse, a single drunken cherry and moscato-soaked chocolate flourless biscuit all hide inside a crisp
chocolate shell.

Concord – Chocolate meringue, chocolate mousse, and chocolate ganache are hidden by sticks of meringue and a single red ribbon.

Crème Brulee – Flavors include Vanilla Bean with Cointreau, Lavender,
Passion Fruit, and Pumpkin

Ice Creams and Sorbets – 12 rotating housemade flavors

French Macaroons – A current favorite in 12 rotating flavors

I think they need more gluten-free items, but then that’s me. Here’s another picture. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the Aphrodite when we visited. Hopefully they will put us on their notify list.

The Gluten-Free Dessert Concord

The Concord looks whimsical like a bunch of Parisian chimney tubes. The meringue sticks are like sweet chocolate air. The ganache is like wow. The mousse has snap and is chocolatey. I’ve never had anything like it. Sienna loved it too. It was all I could do to keep myself from picking up the plate and licking it when the Concord was gone. Wow. We will be back.

Bad for your diet: Click here for more posts on Gluten-Free Desserts.

We want to know: Have you been to Pix Patisserie? Did you have the same experience? Why do you think they named a dessert “The Concord?” Let us know!

Times we have visited: 4 (So we feel very good about our rating.)
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Same

Pix Patisserie
www.pixpatisserie.com
3402 SE Division St, Portland, Oregon 97202 / 503.232.4407
3901 N. Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227 / 503.282.6539

Gluten-Free News Bites

Hi everybody I’m blogging on my lunch break because I have a couple of quick news items and two reminders:

Reminder #1: We’re in Blog for Food for the Oregon Food Bank week 2. Please take a moment to donate to the Oregon Food Bank.  To be part of the official Blog For Food tally, please enter “Blog For Food” in the tribute section on the OFB donation page. Nancy Rommelmann has decided to take the campaign up a notch and is stripping for donations.

Reminder #2: If you were planning to reserve a Valentines Day Cake for your sweetie from New Cascadia Traditional Bakery, the cut-off is today.

US News has an article about the gluten-free diet and celiac disease and how some are calling eating gluten-free a fad.

This is a little old, but Allergic Girl posted a link to a New York Times article that tries to shed some light on the accuracy of allergy tests.

Last, Celiac Chicks posted some links to information on which drugs are gluten-free. I remember early on when I was switching over to being gluten-free I found that one of the vitamins I was taking daily contained wheat.

That’s it. Happy Wednesday!

Review: New Cascadia Traditional Bakery

Those of you who read our last review of the New Cascadia Traditional Bakery will know that we’re really excited about it. We think it’s a great place to get gluten-free food. We would like to make it clear that although the two reviews for today aren’t exactly gushing with praise, we’re still very much enthused about the bakery and think it’s one of a kind.

Today we’re going to sample their gluten-free cinnamon rolls and a sugar cookie. Let’s get to it.

You might not guess it because I’m usually so humble, but I consider myself a world-class expert on the subject of cinnamon rolls. I have even come up with a classification system for cinnamon rolls which you will no doubt find edifying for today’s review. There are three distinct cinnamon roll traditions in the world. These are:

  1. The classical pastry dough cinnamon roll. This is the dense, usually small cinnamon roll which most often features raisins, and a thin glaze. Very often these are baked a light brown. These can also sometimes have pecans.
  2. The huge bread-like pan cinnamon roll. These are the fluffy kind of cinnamon rolls you get at airports that are more of a cream color, rarely feature raisins, and have thick white frosting on them. These are more like what you get from the store in those tubes you smack against the counter to open.
  3. The donut cinnamon roll.  These are the flat cinnamon rolls that donut shops offer.

If you’re with me so far, you’re probably trying to figure out which is your favorite. I personally lean towards number 2, but only straight out of the oven. Number 3 is the best bet at a truck stop. Number 1 is more like what they made when I was a kid and can be good or bad, depending.

cinnamon-rolls-dscn2716

The cinnamon rolls at New Cascadia are type 1. They are dense and have a thin glaze. They don’t have raisins. They smell divine in the oven, but unfortunately they didn’t live up to our hopes and dreams. The flavor was right, but while we didn’t exactly get them fresh out of the oven and thus think they may be better in the morning, we felt like ours were too dense, and also wished that they had more cinnamon in them.

sugar-cookie-dscn2717

Next up are the gluten-free sugar cookies, which apparently are made with coconut flour. All I can say about these cookies is that they’re awesome! If you have celiac disease and have been dreaming about a real sugar cookie and wondering where you could get one, you should go there today!

That’s it for today’s review. We definitely have plans to keep going back to New Cascadia and will give you updates as they arrive.

Times we have visited: 1 (So your experience may vary)
Overall rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Somewhere around twice as expensive.

New Cascadia Traditional
2120 NW Glisan St
Portland, Oregon 97210