For those of us who have been ostracized from the underappreciated world of bagels, pizza, cookies and toast, the thought of a gluten-free treat that doesn’t taste like particleboard makes us as giddy as kids. The ever-growing numbers of people suffering with Celiac Disease and gluten sensitivity are often deprived of comfort foods, party snacks, wedding cake and appetizers. There are more and more gluten free items appearing on shelves, like Betty Crocker brownie mix and Udi’s bagels, but most are expensive and feel stale right out of the package, some crumble due to a total lack of moisture and others are thick and heavy in the stomach. The rare wheatless treat that has a fluffy texture like ‘real’ bread is cause for joy.
I recently stopped into Gluten Free Creations on Thomas, and I felt like a kid in a candy store. I was immediately offered samples of everything bagel, poppyseed muffin and cranberry-orange muffin that were perfectly moist and flavorful. Loaves of bread lined the shelves, and I was pleased to see that they were of the size and softness of wheat bread loaves, unlike the tiny, dense bricks of gluten free bread I find at the grocery store. I was greeted by a pleasant, engaging employee who empathized with my plight and pointed me toward some goodies.
The chewy chocolate chip cookies are best-sellers, and for good reason. I spotted a breakfast sandwich, consisting of an English muffin, sausage patty and egg, wrapped and ready. The woman helping me told me that she could warm it for me to take to go, which I couldn’t resist. But what I really stared at was the peppermint scones. When she saw me ogling, she laughed and explained that they are her favorite things in the store. Since gluten free foods can spoil much faster than those with wheat, most items must be frozen to stay fresh. As I picked up the hard scones, she assured me that when defrosted, they would be plush and moist. When I later let one warm, I found that she was very correct. I think that scone may have been the single most delicious gluten free treat I’ve ever tasted. The light drizzle of peppermint glaze, and the red specks scattered throughout, were just the right amount of sweet to offset the doughy, thick center. While this is a holiday treat, they are transitioning to luscious Maple Walnut Scones, and also have peppermint cookies so I can still have my peppermint fix.
Some of the other items available are cheesecakes, jalapeno cheese bagels, pizza crusts and doughnuts. Dry mixes like buckwheat pancakes, pizza crust and bread mix lined another wall, as well as order forms for custom cakes and cupcakes.
My lovely helper informed me of the Gluten Free Creations Cafétte on McDowell, which serves hot sandwiches and individual cupcakes. I made a trip there a few days later. Located in a strip mall, the Cafétte is easy to miss, just like the Bakery on Thomas, which is hidden behind a barbershop. Inside, there are several tables with classic red-and-white checked tablecloths. At the order counter, I couldn’t decide between a savory sandwich and a sweet indulgence, so I went with the Monte Cristo. I was pleased to find that the bread was not overly sweet, and the well-portioned meats as well as the jam served on the side were delicious. I also took a Cinnamon Roll Scone for later. While the filling was delicious, I felt there could have been a little more of it to level out the rich glaze on top.
Both bakeries carry some products that are also free of eggs, corn and soy, for those who are more sensitive or choose to eat vegan.
As a Celiac, I’m relieved to have found Gluten Free Creations. The food is excellent and the employees are knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The breads don’t feel thick and heavy like store-bought brands, and are easily the same price or less for much higher-quality food. Even if you are not gluten-free, try it out. Taking wheat out of your diet can be a great change.
WHERE TO GO
Gluten Free Creations Bakery (retail and wholesale)
2940-b E. Thomas Rd. (behind Mid-city Barber Shop)
Hours: Mon. – Fri.: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat.: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Sun.: closed
Gluten Free Creations Bakery and Good Food Cafétte
7607 E. McDowell Rd., #108
Hours: Fri.: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Sat., Mon.: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Sun.: closed