How fast can she grow? But though the vibe is decidedly mod, the business is very BabyCakes sells gluten-free cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and pastries, made with ingredients such as coconut oil and bean flour and topped with agave-nectar frosting. A second BabyCakes store will open this fall in Los Angeles. The founder: McKenna, 32, grew up in San Diego, the 10th of 12 children in her family. A few years ago, she was working as a fashion assistant at Budget Living when she was found to have wheat allergies.
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Most recently, the retro baking goddess has taken on bread and savory pastries. What inspired you to take on gluten-free bread? Erin McKenna: I felt like I really had done everything I had set out to do with sweets, and the only big challenge was something that I had never even tested before, which was a savory bread. For me, it is pretty easy to do a sweets recipes, because I know the ingredients and formulas like the back of my hand.
Bread is such a whole different beast — the portion of flour to starch is so different. So because it was the unknown, it was really interesting to me. I also think that the gluten-free bread that is out there is usually frozen and tastes really uninspired.
I really miss that freshness that you get at a restaurant or going to your local grocery store for local bread. PS: Which of the recipes are you most proud of? EM: Bagels for sure. They are superaddictive.
The bagels, and I would say the puff pastry, which we use for the sticky pecan rolls in the cookbook, and the focaccia for sure. Those are my prized recipes. EM: The puff pastry for sure. It was a lot of trial and error with our coconut oil, trying to get it to blend into the dough the way you would cut in butter for a regular pastry dough.
I finally just said, "I have to make my own butter for this to work," so there were many steps involved in getting to the polished puffed pastry recipe.
EM: It sounds counterintuitive, but the white bread recipe is so easy. I wish I could demo it more. It is the nicest, crustiest white bread and really soft in the center. It almost tastes like Italian peasant bread. It freezes well and is superversatile.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Thin Mint Cookies from Erin McKenna's BabyCakes
Ever since I saw the video of the staff having a blast, I was transfixed on going there to participate in the fun and frolic. Not all desserts fit into those categories, but for people on various diets, this place is a godsend. No sugar? Is the stuff any good? More for the rest of us. But because I have zero sense of direction, I got a little spun around in those confusing streets of the lower East side.
Erin McKenna Bakery, New York City
Feb 06, Punk rated it it was ok Where do I start? She describes coconut oil as "a bit pricey, but so are the heart attacks it helps prevent. I see later editions say " Mostly Gluten-Free" on the cover, but the copy I have in my hands does not. Then: The intermittent celebrity endorsements.