Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Now Eating: Jennifer’s Way Bakery
After I heard that there was a new gluten-free, dairy-free bakery in town I had to know what it was all about. Actress Jennifer Esposito opened Jennifer's Way about 5 weeks ago and already I've made 2 trips there in 2 weeks, even though it's not exactly on my way home. Fortunately the weather is getting warmer and the walk over to 10th Street between 1st Ave and Avenue A is worth the hike. Truth be told, I love to eat. I love baked goods and most importantly I love taste. Until now, my gluten-free baked goods options were limited by what I actually made myself, Babycakes and Lael Cakes (only when they participate in the Vegan Shop Ups).
Since I don't often have the time or patience to bake gluten-free, dairy-free goodies I often end up at Babycakes, since it's on my subway ride home. I love their frosting, but when it comes to the baked goods, they aren't a bad way to satisfy my sweet tooth but they always tasted dense and gluten-free to me. I personally am not a fan of garbanzo bean flour and the flavor often comes through in a lot of the baked goods. Bean-y baked good never sat well with me, but since my options were limited I made do.
Lael Cakes makes gorgeous custom cakes that are on the gourmet side of the spectrum. But since they don't sell to the public on a regular basis, it's not an option I can indulge in often unless I want to order 30 slices of cake (which is the minimum order).
My first visit to the bakery I arrived late on a Sunday afternoon and a lot of the choices had been sold out. I was hoping to try some of the bread options in addition to some of the baked goods but unfortunately the breads were sold out. Fortunately I lucked out on my second visit.
The bakery itself is small but quite adorable. There is a rustic feel with chalkboard menu, reclaimed wood, small counter and a communal table in addition to 3 stools in the window. On my first visit I noticed Jennifer herself at work in the kitchen. On my second visit, she was kicking back for dinner at the communal table, so it's safe to say that Ms. Esposito is invested in her bakery in a hands on kind of way.
On both visits a bow-tied gentlemen with a Southern accent helped me make my selections. When I had questions about ingredients, he referred me to a handwritten book, that lists ingredients and allergens.
Although there was not a huge selection to choose from, it's good to know that the staff is constantly churning out fresh treats. While I was trying to make my decision, staffers were refilling the baskets. I had the chance to eat a chocolate chip cookie fresh out of the oven that surprised me with taste and texture. The cookie was soft baked with slightly crisp edges, not a hard cookie like most gluten-free options tend to be. The chocolate chips melted in my mouth and the flavors were all right. I could scarcely believe that this treat was gluten-free. Best of all not a hint of bean-y flavor.
I also indulged in a homemade "Pop Tart". The tender pastry had a bit of flakiness to it that was good and the filling was tasty, but I wished there was more filling. It was a little bit on the dry side and I felt it was a bit on the small side, especially since it was $6. I think I would rather indulge in the other baked goods.
On my second trip I snagged a carrot cupcake which was perfectly moist and fluffy. The frosting on top had a delicious spiced flavor that complimented the cupcake well. It was a little bit walnut heavy, so if you are not a nut fan, you may want to avoid this flavor. After my cupcake, I still wanted another sweet so I tried the Oatmeal raisin cookie and it reminded me of cookies that I ate before I stopped eating gluten. I am a sucker for cinnamon raisin flavors in anything, so I was super excited that they had bread still available for purchase. I ate the Cinnamon Raisin Bread the next morning for breakfast and it had great flavor. I love bread and it's one of the things that I miss most since changing my diet and while I am thrilled to have discovered Food For Life's Brown Rice wraps and Brown Rice bread, I miss a fresh baked bakery loaf. The mini loaf was a bit dense but still soft and chewy in the middle. Aside from a few too many walnuts at the bottom of the loaf, it is exactly what I remember cinnamon raisin bread to be like.
Overall although the portions are smaller than other gluten-free bakeries and the price is also higher, you can taste the difference in quality. The ingredients are all organic, Non GMO, and the textures and flavors are well balanced. I honestly can't believe that some of these goods are gluten-free because they don't taste that way to me at all. I am definitely a fan.