I have known for quite sometime that Dairy and I just don’t get along, but it wasn’t until I finally took a food allergy test in July and found out that I indeed was intolerant of Dairy, and Gluten, Yeast, Almonds and Peanuts… needless to say my daily diet changed. My go-to snacks and lunch… well and pretty much everything I ate had one of those things in them. Months later and I’ve adjusted to making yummy whole food at home... I even learned how to make whip cream out of coconut milk- So delicious! What was and continues to be frustrating is the lack of delicious food eating out and dessert! I used to love going out to eat, happy hour and on dessert dates, but now it’s more of a challenge! Luckily, Portland, unlike many cities I’ve traveled to over the past few months, has quite a few delicious gluten-free dining options and dessert shops! Which brings me to day 8 of 30, let me tell you about Crave Bake Shop... Crave is a gluten free bakery and they also have some dairy free options… and they use Rice milk! Aaa, I was so excited to find this place, it’s so delicious it’s ridiculous- it’s a good thing I don’t live too close or I’d be there every day! I’ll let Kyra tell you more, but whether you’re gluten free or not… run there, now!
Champagne: How did you decide to open Crave Bake Shop?
Kyra: When I first went gluten-free almost 8 years ago, there weren’t very many gluten-free products available on store shelves and there were virtually no gluten-free bakeries. What gluten free products I WAS able to find and taste were not anything I wanted to eat—ever—let alone for a treat. After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu, I took a job in a high-end restaurant as an assistant pastry chef, and just started baking gluten-free on the side for myself and my family. Eventually, friends of the family found out I could bake delicious gf products and asked me to make their wedding cake. Then wedding guests called me to make birthday cakes and baby shower cupcakes…and it spiraled from there!
Champagne: What sets you apart from other bakeries?
Kyra: The fact that we exclusively bake gluten-free is different from what most other traditional bakeries do. And the fact that our pastries are delicious enough to serve even to those who have no food allergies is what differentiates us from other gluten-free bakeries. When people tell us, “This is a great cupcake for being gluten-free,” I feel like I’ve failed. We strive to make absolutely delicious products, that also happen to be gluten-free.
Champagne: What’s your personal specialty?
Kyra: We are reknowned for our gooey and decadent cinnamon rolls (about 45% of our customers aren’t even gluten-free!), and of course, our 4 appearances on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars has helped bring acclaim.
Champagne: What’s your favorite dessert?
Kyra: I LOVE making ice cream! We make housemade ice cream sandwiches all year long, changing the flavors with the season. I am a peppermint girl, so naturally I love the Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream sandwich, but I am also partial to our Tiramisu Ice cream sandwich (mascarpone ice cream on espresso shortbread cookies), the salted caramel ice cream (on pie crust cookies), and the Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Sandiwch (blueberry creamcheese ice cream on ginger molasses cookies). I also try to have at least one dairy-free ice cream flavor available daily. Our DF Eggnog Latte Ice Cream sandwich was extremely popular this winter!
Champagne: What inspires you?
Kyra: I draw inspiration from everywhere: restaurant desserts, smells in the air, even flowers I see on walks around the neighborhood. My mind is always spinning and creating new pastries and putting together flavors in new and unique ways is my favorite part of my job.
Champagne: What cupcake flavors do you offer?
Kyra: Ha ha ha… The better question is what flavors don’t we offer: We have over 92 flavors of cupcakes in our repertoire, which we rotate on a daily basis, and that list is growing daily, as I keep creating more. Some of the most popular are any of our 15 Cupcake Wars flavors (like Dark Chocolate Delight: chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate Italian Meringue buttercream and topped with dark chocolate ganache), Ding Dong, Spicy Peach Bellini (champagne cake filled with spicy peach habernero compote, topped with champagne whipped mascarpone cream), African Yam, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate), as well as our newest items (Turtle: chocolate cake dipped in belgian chocolate ganache, rolled in crushed toasted pecans, topped with caramel italian meringue buttercream, and stripped with dark chocolate ganache; Pumpkin Caramel Sin: pumpkin cake filled with salted caramel, topped with vanilla italian meringue buttercream and dusted with cinnamon sugar; Hazelnut Cappuccino: cinnamon cake filled with cinnamon-hazlenut italian meringue buttercream, topped with a cloud of foamy espresso meringue). And then there’s our standard daily flavor that is dairy-free: Hot Chocolate (DF chocolate cake topped with a housemade Marshmallow meringue). Choosing the daily flavors is a delicate game: we want to stay seasonal whenever possible, as well as create a nice balance between chocolate-y flavors, fruity flavors, vanilla flavors and nutty flavors. It wouldn’t make a very good menu to have 3 nutty cupcakes and nothing fruity at all!
Champagne: What has been your most unique request for design?
Kyra: Most cakes are either fairly general (e.g., “Fairy themed”) or are based on an existing cake design or meant to match the wedding invitations. The most unique cake we’ve done thus far was for an Indian-inspired wedding. The cake was a dark red with golden quilting pattern, and on top we hand-sculpted a garlic bulb and a chili pepper as an inside joke for the bride and groom. We have also done a Mario-themed wedding cake with the coins, pipes, turtle guys and a feather on it.
Champagne: To you, what is key to creating a successful event?
Kyra: The best thing you can do for an event is to adequately plan everything ahead of time, use trusted vendors, have back up plans, and then trust in those plans and relax and go with the flow. It’s rare that EVERYTHING goes according to plan, but if you can relax and remember the big picture: if your wedding bouquet isn’t as big as you imagined, it’s not the end of the world. What matters is that at the end of the day, you married the love of your life! When I got married, I still didn’t have my dress the day before the wedding, but I just focused on the fact that I WAS indeed getting married the next day. Even if I was going to wear shorts and a tank top to do it! (and my dress showed up the next morning)
Champagne: What do you do, when you’re not doing, what you do?
Kyra: Well, I pretty much am ALWAYS doing what I do. I’m thinking of new flavor combinations or testing out new recipes, or working on my cookbook, or thinking about how to best test new recipes. And when I’m not doing that, I love to go hiking with my husband and our puppy.
Champagne: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Kyra: I really see the magic in what we do as revolutionizing what it means to be gluten-free. These aren’t the bean-flour filled pastries of 10 years ago: these are cakes, cookies, scones and pies that are flaky and delectable, and better than traditional flour-filled items. And the best thing is, unlike regular pastries, with our gluten-free products, there’s not that heavy gut-bomb feeling after you’ve eaten a few cupcakes.
Which I guess can be a dangerous thing too, since it encourages you to keep coming back for more! ; )
*Special Offer: Order your cake from Crave Bake Shop and get entered to win a free Anniversary Cake!
Check out previous posts from our 30 days of vendors:
Day 7 of 30: Geranium Lake Flowers
Day 6 of 30: Human Beauty
Day 5 of 30: Altura Studio
Day 4 of 30: The Honey Pot Bakery
Day 3 of 30: Union Pine
Day 2 of 30: Serephine
Day 1 of 30: Deyla Huss Photography
What’s 30 days of Vendors?
The Champagne Team