Baking without gluten is a learned skill on par with fixing bikes and stretching canvas. Often, specialty ingredients like sorghum flour and guar gum are involved. Removing gluten from the kitchen can be extra tricky over the holidays, when counters tend to be taken over by conventional holiday cookie and bread baking projects. So unless you or someone in your family has a gluten sensitivity, chances are you'll opt out of sanitizing utensils and cutting boards in order to prepare sans-gluten food.
The Center for Celiac Research reports that almost 20 million people suffer ill effects from gluten. That means it's likely that at least one kid at the school cookie exchange or a couple of New Year's Eve potluckers will be on gluten-free diets. While it may not carry the same romance as baking them yourself, pastries from the gluten free and vegan Flying Apron serve as pretty good stand ins for the homemade variety.
When Jennifer Katzinger opened Flying Apron in the U District in 2002, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity were anything but common buzzwords. Luckily, the last decade has given the bakery ample time to improve its recipes from dry as bone carb mounds to desirable pastries containing nearly spot-on amounts of spring, chew, and/or crunch. A move to Fremont, change in ownership in 2010, and opening of a Redmond location in 2011 has done nothing to diminish the quality of the Flying Apron's sweets, breads, and savories.
The Fremont cafe is housed in what used to be Bouchee Creperie. The long, narrow space is cut in half, with a big back bakery and cozy, well-worn seating area. A mile-long display case starts at the door, with natural light illuminating the rotating cast of pastries.
Kids will most likely have trouble deciding what to order: Berry tea biscuits are snuggled up to banana muffins with chocolate chips, iced cinnamon roles, and carrot muffins. One thing looks better than the next.
While less noticeable in the texture of cakes and pies, some pastries still tilt to the dry side. The crust of the berry scone lacks the coated crisp only butter delivers, and the cinnamon roles are a smidge flatter without any yeasty oomph. The lack of animal-derived fat is evident in vegan cake frosting, too. But considering everything Flying Apron serves is animal free, gluten free, organic, and non-hydrogenated, that's splitting hairs.
There's an espresso bar with coffee from Seven Roasters and every kind of non-dairy milk in existence, including coconut and almond. Flying Apron is filling holiday pie orders, including gluten free pumpkin, pecan, apple, and sweet potato.