get your cake on!

29 09 2010

i don’t remember a single kid in my entire elementary school that had a peanut allergy. maybe bees (epi pens look so fucking cool when you’re 7), but not peanuts- and certainly not gluten. as a matter of fact, i lived the majority of my adult life not really even knowing what gluten is, or that people even could be allergic to it. but there it is. all of the sudden, everybody and their grandma has celiac disease or is gluten intolerant… where there were once no food allergies or sensitivities, now even walmart has a gluten free department. wacky.

i hate to conjecture as to why there has been this apparent spike in food allergies and conditions (pesticides? medications? evolutionary failure?), because it will just make me want to enclose myself in a plastic bubble (and not the sexy jake gyllenhaal kind, the creepy john travolta kind). but the fact is that gluten allergy/intolerance is a new reality that many have to deal with every day, and it totally sucks.

i fucking love gluten.  i can tear through a bread basket in the blink of an eye (no seriously, if you ever go out to dinner with me- DON’T BLINK if you have any interest in pre-show bread), so my heart goes out (way out) for anyone who can’t enjoy the glory that is starchy, glutenous goodness. that said, there are a growing number of products out on the market dedicated to our gluten repellent friends that are actually quite tasty. for example, i’m a big fan of the lucy’s brand cookies (specifically the sugar cookies). what i’m learning, is that gluten free baked goods can be totally kick ass, as long as they’re done well. unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

to add another layer of suck, gluten free shit is FUCKING EXPENSIVE. can you imagine having to spend $6 every time you wanted to buy hamburger buns? so basically, there’s not much you can eat, and what you can eat is ludicrously pricey. and then what about things like birthdays and holidays? maybe you can get some gluten free  mix or something from the whole foods, but it’s not hardly the same as having someone make you real cake or cookies from scratch.

therein lies the subject of our blog post/love letter today. cakeface contacted me about a week ago about doing a review of their startup gluten free bakery business.  now, i get contacted semi-regularly to review things on my blog, and i don’t always say yes.  what appealed to me about cakeface is the fact that they’re local, they’re vegan, and that i would get to eat cupcakes. sold! i headed on over to their website and ordered half a dozen peanut butter cupcakes, 3 blueberry scones, and 3 chocolate chip scones. the goods were delivered to my office promptly the next afternoon (they deliver to a good chunk of the southern maine area).

reason #1 to love cakeface– the people who own it are some of the best people you will ever meet. jj does the baking, simon handles the business end, and they are both ridiculously nice, charming, and completely genuine. i kind of want them to be my new best friends.  basically, you can rest assured that your cupcakes will not be made by assholes.

i decided to share the scones with the people in my office, and hoard the cupcakes for myself (well, and possibly the boyfriend).  everybody snarfed theirs down in record time, and the only complaint by one of my coworkers was “not sweet enough”.

reason #2 to love cakeface- they make smart food. as far as i’m concerned, people who who like their food overly sweetened have stupid tongues. too much high fructose corn syrup and processed snack cakes have made them unable to appreciate any flavor above and beyond twinkie level sugar shock. it’s tragic. i thought they were the best scones that i’d ever eaten (they are so not paying me for this in cupcakes or otherwise, i just thought they were kick ass scones). moist but not soggy, not too sweet, and with just a tiny bit of salty in there to make things more interesting. similarly, the cupcakes had a nice flavor balance (mildly sweet and nutty), were the perfect moist but not oily texture, and had exactly the right amount of jj’s killer peanut butter frosting (just ask the boyfriend who shoved down 3 of them in a sitting).

cakeface simon and i actually had a funny conversation today about how too much frosting can destroy a perfect cupcake experience. too much frosting for me is a clear sign that the cake portion of a cupcake can’t stand on its own. it’s showboating. excess frosting is full of lies.

reason #3 to love cakeface- they’re unpretentious. food that tastes good doesn’t need 4 inches of buttercream and a fondant daisy to make it worth eating.  my cakeface treats came neatly packed in a brown bag, simply presented, without a ganache floret in sight. oh, and they also threw in a  totally adorable bumper sticker, just because.

ok, so we’ve covered their charmingness, their taste goodingness, and their lack of showboatingness… all excellent and necessary qualities in a bakery. but what’s the bottom line on all this deliciousness?

reason #4 to love cakeface- you can afford them. i’m a girl who has (and will again) paid upwards of $5 for a single cupcake, and you might expect a company like cakeface that uses pricey ingredients like hazelnut flour and vegan sugar to be in the upper ranges of the cupcake market. not so! starting at $1.50 a cupcake, $1 a scone, and $.50 a cookie (less if you order more), you’d be lucky to get some gas station hydrox for the same price.

ok, before this lovefest carries on for too long, let me just say one thing- i know hardcore product/ pimping is not my general modus operandi, but when really good people are doing something admirable and worthwhile (and delicious)… i think they deserve a little shout out.  along with throwing down an order of your own (what’s on their order page is just a starting point- give them a call for everything from birthday cakes to alternative scone flavors), if you want to help support cakeface’s future development (they’re working on a second set of dedicated cookware so that they can also offer nut-free treats), you can also donate to their kickstarter account to help assure that their venture gets started with a real chance. after all, it’s always the right time to get your cake on.

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16 responses

29 09 2010
IAMA CAMERA

I may have missed the link posted, but here’s their website for those interested: http://www.cakefacemaine.com/

29 09 2010
liz

i LOVE jj’s baked goods. my secret number one reason for being so sad when north star cafe closed was lack of access to the delicious stuff she baked for them for too brief a time. i’ve had cupcakes and pumpkin spice cake, and they were SO good. i bake vegan all the time with great success, but i’m mystified at how she makes gluten-free taste so good.

and also, i just read an article in the new york times about a study that showed you can go your whole life, like 60 years or more, with no gluten sensitivity, and then be diagnosed with celiac. very weird.

29 09 2010
blackgirlinmaine

Damn girl, I’m jealous. People send you goodies to review. Sounds like a great bakery. I have no issues with gluten but do know many folks who do so nice to be able to offer a recommendation.

3 10 2010
bessmarvin

i actually paid for those cupcakes fair and square, although they did throw in a free cookie and a bumper sticker. my only issue with gluten is that i eat too damn much of it and it’s making me fat. but it is good to know that the multitude of people who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease can eat cupcakes like the rest of us.

29 09 2010
Caroline

Maybe I just haven’t adjusted my mindset from New York prices yet but those cupcakes seem crazy cheap, especially for something gluten free. I don’t have any food allergies (thank goodness for that) so I can stick with homemade… but if they add a red velvet option I will absolutely give it a try.

3 10 2010
bessmarvin

they are crazy cheap. we should all eat them now before they get popular and start charging what they’re actually worth. i guarantee that jj will make you red velvet if you ask. but if you’re in portland and feeling gulteny, you should check out the red velvet cupcakes at two fat cats on india street. they’re pretty close to a religious experience.

1 10 2010
jj!

We priced them low enough that I’m making back money on materials, and since I’m the only “employee”, I don’t have a whole bunch of markup. What seems crazy to me is that I ever paid more than $3.00 for a cupcake!

Also, Caroline (and anyone else who is wondering)- I’ll do whatever you want! Request anything, and I’ll make it work in a delicious, gf-way. Yum.

3 10 2010
bessmarvin

it’s kind of crazy really, but $3-$5 seems totally reasonable to me for a really good cupcake. not that i don’t totally appreciate your prices, but don’t short change yourself on the mark up! your skills are worth the money.

1 10 2010
Amy

Just read your guest post on The Coupon Goddess. I am a mom, but a young mom. You and I coupon a lot alike. 🙂 I’m not saving the world with my donations, but I am saving some money! Yay!

3 10 2010
bessmarvin

i never would have believed in a million years that i could save money and donate to charity simultaneously. i certainly admire the coupon goddess and her “epic hauls”, and i’m so grateful that there are women like her out there, but i think there’s room for us micro-couponers too! p.s. i LOVE the “friday fails” section of your blog. i often find people admitting their failures and their struggles far more inspiring than those smug people who think that they already have it all figured out. in failure there is solidarity. in failure there is authenticity. in failure there is learning! good stuff! and your daughter is just gorgeous (nice work!).

1 10 2010
jill

haha,.. i just read your post on coupon goddess also.. but have been reading your posts for a while. im married, no kids and was in severe debt. we moved home a year ago and have been living as “cellar dwellers” as the ladies at work like to refer to.. anyways.. paid off 25K in debt in one year.. is moving home an option for you??
JH

3 10 2010
bessmarvin

sadly, cellar dwelling is not an option for us right now- although my sister and her husband did it and paid of $55,000 worth of debt in 2 years! me and the boyfriend actually bought a home this year (well a very tiny, somewhat ramshackle condo in a good neghborhood), but our mortgage (see part about small and ramshackle), is actually cheaper than what we were paying in rent before. i am glad that we were able to take advantage of the current housing situation (and $8,000 kickback), and get a place of our own… but it did create a lot of extra expense as well that set us back a bit financially. right now i’m just trying to stay the course and keep chipping away at it. congratuations on your debt freeness! when do you get to move out of the basement?

11 10 2010
uke mochi

Anything that JJ makes, gluten free or vegan, is absolutely mindblowing. I miss seeing her (cake)face everyday.

13 10 2010
bessmarvin

i feel like jj has the magic food touch. also, she’s a lovely human being. i definitely need to see her cakeface more.

19 11 2010
a-nonutz

I am an adult with serious(deathly) nut and peanut allergies(and have had them since I was a kiddo-so well over 20 years). I pretty much have to always pass on baked goods. BUT Cakeface rocks. They will make nut free items, if you request. and they are yumtackular 🙂

allergic people-we’re finally invited to the portland party!

30 11 2010
bessmarvin

i really cannot say enough good stuff about cakeface. so many people are gluten allergic/intolerant these days, and everyone needs cupcakes. EVERYONE. also, i love the word yumtackular.

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