Gluten-Free Bakeries Bring Holiday Cheer

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Gluten Free Gingerbread Men

December is just about here, which means that bakeries are beginning to roll out their annual holiday treats. Those of us with a gluten allergy don't have to sit idly by, watching as our friends and loved ones enjoy a bevy of baked goods -- we live in the Bay Area, where gluten-free bakeries are popping up in many major cities (along with pizza places!).

Take, for example, Zest Bakery, an independent shop that recently opened in San Carlos. Located right off of Laurel Avenue, this cheerful bakery was opened by Patrick Luke and Charissa Fleischer, two sweets-loving newlyweds. A true family affair, Zest also features gluten-free mini-cheesecakes made by Charissa's sister, Cynthia, the mastermind behind the the AntiCupcake Company (her motto is "Down with the Cupcake! Up with the Cheesecake!").

Here are just a few of the tasty holiday treats you'll find at Zest:

  • Pies: pecan pie, pumpkin pie, berry pie, Dutch apple pie with dulce de leche - some pies can be made dairy-free as well
  • Cheesecake: pumpkin pie cheesecake, vanilla bean cheesecake, cranberry congnac cheesecake, eggnog cheesecake, mini firehouse smores cheesecake
  • Breads: white dinner rolls, multigrain rolls, cornbread rolls
  • Gingerbread men
  • A gluten-free holiday survival kit

Zest Bakery
1224 Arroyo
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 241-ZEST (9378)
Twitter: @zestbakery

Another gluten-free bakery to recently appear in the Bay Area is Oakland's Good Chemistry Baking. Started by Jane and Rick O'Hara and serving up espresso, baked goods, and a wide selection of deli offerings, Good Chemistry has become an everyday stop for the locals of the Grand Lake area. This holiday season Jane and Rick have packed their pastry cases with a great selection of holiday favorites:

  • Gingerbread loaves and cookies
  • Tea loaves: cranberry nut and lemon poppyseed
  • Linzer torte cookies
  • Dinner rolls and stuffing cubes
  • Challah

Good Chemistry Baking
3249 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 350-7190

It wouldn't be the holiday season without a stop at Mariposa Baking Company, located in Oakland on Telegraph Avenue. Now an East Bay mainstay, Mariposa Baking has been baking up some of the best gluten-free brownies, muffins, and pizza crusts since 2004. Owner Patti Furey Crane is known for her creative goodies, so you're sure to find a range of delicious offerings in her display case. If you're in the northern Peninsula, you can also get Mariposa Baking baked goods at San Bruno's Carrot's Coffee & Tea.


Worth mentioning: once you're done shopping at Mariposa, head next door to The Wine Mine, where owner David Sharp stocks a great selection of gluten-free beers to take the edge off after a day of holiday shopping.

Mariposa Baking Company
The Wine Mine
5427 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 595-0955

Cranberry-Cognac Bread Pudding

Zest bakery has generous shared one of their most popular recipes: cranberry-cognac bread pudding. This dessert is so simple, you won't even need a special gluten-free flour mix to make it. You can just use the loaf of gluten-free bread that's been sitting in your freezer for the past month, waiting to be eaten, or make some homemade bread just for this dish.

Holiday Cranberry-Cognac Bread Pudding (Gluten-Free)
Compliments of Zest Bakery in San Carlos

Makes: 12 servings

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup cognac
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons orange zest
3 cups granulated sugar, divided
3 cups cubed, stale gluten-free bread
6 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 vanilla bean pod
4 tablespoons butter
Course sugar or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

1. Pour cranberries, cognac, water, orange zest and 1 cup of the granulated sugar into a small pot and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning. Turn off the heat and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan.
3. Arrange cubed bread in a single layer in the pan and spoon dollops of the cranberries over the bread. Add the remaining cubes of bread and spread with a few more spoonfuls of cranberries.
4. Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and the remaining 2 cups of granulated sugar in a bowl. Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise and use the tip of the spoon to scrape out the vanilla caviar. Add the vanilla caviar to the egg and milk mixture and whisk until combined. Pour mixture over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
5. Dot with butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Cranberry-Cognac Bread Pudding