Friday 9 March 2012

Tastes & Tales of LA – BabyCakes NYC

BabyCakes NYC is an all natural, allergy aware bakery based in New York. In recent months I have read many rave reviews of them on blogs and always longed to sample some of their baked treats myself. So imagine my delight when I discovered that they have also opened two outlets in Los Angeles – just in time for my visit – hurrah!

BabyCakes NYC – Location 1: North Larchmont Blvd, Hollywood
We caught the bus to Larchmont Blvd which was only a short ride away from where I was staying. It was a lovely location, lots of lovely nice shops and cafes lining the street both sides, smaller roads and pretty houses with flowers trailing over the walls. We found BabyCakes, which was a tiny cute little shop with a few chairs and tables dotted outside.

They had a range of cupcakes, loaf cake slices, cookies and doughnuts on offer. There were no labels saying which items were GF and so I asked an assistant and was delighted to be told everything was Vegan, GF, Kosher and made with agave nectar rather than cane sugar. I couldn’t believe it – everything gluten free! I was so happy that I actually did a little happy jumpy bouncy thing right there in the shop, which made the assistant laugh. They used to do some things that weren’t gluten free, but have recently decided to make everything gluten free so there is no risk of contamination – yippee!

I didn't fancy the cupcakes, which I am sure were delicious, but looked a little craggy to me, plus I can make those easily myself. I wanted something new and exciting! I went for a doughnut instead - wow a doughnut! I've not had one of those in 2 years - I was so excited. I also chose a thin mint cookie and J went for a vanilla cupcake and a chocolate chip cookie sandwich (two choc chip cookies stuck together with a bit of vanilla frosting). We collected our purchases and scuttled off outside to eat them in the sunshine.

Thin Mint Cookie $1.50
A soft flat chocolate cookie, covered in a tick layer of mint chocolate. It’s an American cookie I have often heard mentioned on blogs so I was delighted to get the chance to try one. It had a very strong aroma of peppermint. It was of a generous size with a nice smooth and glossy chocolate glaze, coating the top and sides of the cookie. The cookie part was very soft, with a slight crunch to the outer edges, but quite brownie like in texture. It was ever so slightly grainy, probably made with some rice flour, although this was only detectable because I was looking for it. It had a very strong chocolate mint flavour, almost a little too strong, but just on the right side of good. The coating of minty chocolate glaze was so thick in the centre it was almost as thick as the cookie itself! Very tasty, but a little too strong on the mintiness for me.

Coffee Crunch Doughnut $3.95
Wow doughnuts!! DOUGHNUTS!! They all had the same plain base and then were topped with different flavours. There was a choice of sugar dusted, cinnamon sugar, chocolate glaze, blueberry glaze, caramel or coffee crunch. I went for the coffee crunch which seemed the most exciting and a bit different.
These were baked doughnuts, rather than fried, giving them a very light and soft cake like textured doughnut. Not doughy or chewy like a normal doughnut, but closer textured and softer than a regular cake too. It tasted AMAZING! The base had a faint flavour of lemon which was very pleasant, even against the coffee. Doused in coffee glaze which was sweet and not too bitter, it had then been drizzled with melted chocolate and topped with tiny chocolate chips. Absolutely gorgeous flavour and texture. I was surprised how well the lemony cake went so well with the chocolate and coffee, it really seemed to enhance the flavours. Just wonderful. Divine even.

I suspect the cakey part was made with oil and agave syrup, sweet, soft and tender and very moorish! It wasn't in the least bit dry, crumbly, heavy or grainy. I've been racking my mind of the kind of flour they could have used and have decided it may have a bit of gram flour in there as it was so soft and tender. I remember making a cake with this flour one before and it being this soft, although mine had a bit of beany taste to it so they've done well to disguise it if so. The BEST bought GF treat I've ever eaten!! I only ate half at the time and had another bite of it the following morning, after my more sensible breakfast of course, but I couldn't resist another taste. Is this wrong...don't answer that! Hey, I was on holiday!! So so good!

Choc Chip Sandwich Cookie $2.95
J gave me a little corner of her cookie to taste. Two bendy but soft vanilla cookies, with a few chocolate chips scattered throughout, sandwiched together with a smooth vanilla icing. Very good cookie texture, not at all grainy and I was impressed they had managed to get it to be bendy and chewy, rather and crisp and brittle. The vanilla frosting middle was sweet and smooth. Very good cookie, but personally I would have preferred it without the frosting, but J loved it.

Cupcakes $4.50
I didn't try any of these, but J said her vanilla cupcake was nice.

BabyCakes NYC - Location 2: East 6th Street, Downtown LA
I planned on exploring Little Tokyo in downtown LA. After getting off at East 1st street I went strolling along taking in the sites. I intended to stay on 1st street the whole time, but me and my fabulous sense of direction got me lost and before I knew it I realised I was on 4th street – opps! After walking for ages in the wrong direction I remembered that on 6th street was meant to be the second store of BabyCakes NYC, so of course I couldn't resist the chance to sample more of their baked goodies, so I hunted it out. Maybe my feet got me lost on purpose? I got there just as the doors opened and walked into the smell of freshly baked treats. Being early meant I got the pick of the bunch. I nearly went for another doughnut, they had coconut topped ones this time, but in the end went for a pumpkin chocolate chip loaf cake slice. Pumpkin is something I always associate with America, as we have nothing pumpkin in the UK, especially in the baked goods category. I'm always drooling over pumpkin cakes on blogs and it looked so moist and freshly baked I couldn't resist it.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf Slice $3.95
When it was handed to me it still felt ever so slightly warm - this really was freshly baked! I couldn't resist tearing off a corner right there in the shop. This cake was more like a wedge than a slice. It’s about the width of 2 regular slices and I happily scoffed the lot (and wished there was more!)

It was absolutely studded with tiny dark chocolate chips, almost more chocolate chips than cake. They had stayed soft and made each bite wonderfully creamy, sweet and slightly bitter all at once. The cake was a lovely deep golden colour and smelt wonderful. It was incredibly moist and soft and yet still had a slightly firmer chewy outer top edge but with a soft and springy centre. The cake tasted divine! There was a faint lingering of spices and then a sweet natural sweetness from the pumpkin. It didn't taste sugar sweet, but naturally sweet. I've never had a pumpkin cake before it’s gorgeous and went so well with the chocolate chips. I have no idea how they get their baked goods so light and moist without any dense, heaviness, dryness or graininess from the flour, especially as there are no eggs or butter used! I'd love to know their secret. I've going to have to do some research. I don't think its ground almonds either, as there is no grain texture at all! FABULOUS!

If you’re gluten free, vegan or none of these things, BabyCakes NYC is well worth a visit!


MissCakeBaker said...

I've read about Babycakes but it's great to read your reviews. Sounds great!

The Caked Crusader said...

That thin mint cookie looks right up my street!

Johanna GGG said...

I've heard of them but your review makes me want to be there - I think I have seen their cookbook about and been tempted by it

Sarah said...

Those donuts have made me so jealous, I am actually tempted to book a flight.....

Kristen said...

Those treats look great! Wow, yum!