Gluten Free Gingerbread Men

December is just about here, which means that bakeries are beginning to roll out their annual holiday treats. Those of us with a gluten allergy don’t have to sit idly by, watching as our friends and loved ones enjoy a bevy of baked goods — we live in the Bay Area, where gluten-free bakeries are popping up in many major cities (along with pizza places!).

Take, for example, Zest Bakery, an independent shop that recently opened in San Carlos. Located right off of Laurel Avenue, this cheerful bakery was opened by Patrick Luke and Charissa Fleischer, two sweets-loving newlyweds. A true family affair, Zest also features gluten-free mini-cheesecakes made by Charissa’s sister, Cynthia, the mastermind behind the the AntiCupcake Company (her motto is “Down with the Cupcake! Up with the Cheesecake!”).

Here are just a few of the tasty holiday treats you’ll find at Zest:

  • Pies: pecan pie, pumpkin pie, berry pie, Dutch apple pie with dulce de leche – some pies can be made dairy-free as well
  • Cheesecake: pumpkin pie cheesecake, vanilla bean cheesecake, cranberry congnac cheesecake, eggnog cheesecake, mini firehouse smores cheesecake
  • Breads: white dinner rolls, multigrain rolls, cornbread rolls
  • Gingerbread men
  • A gluten-free holiday survival kit

Zest Bakery
1224 Arroyo
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 241-ZEST (9378)
Twitter: @zestbakery

Another gluten-free bakery to recently appear in the Bay Area is Oakland’s Good Chemistry Baking. Started by Jane and Rick O’Hara and serving up espresso, baked goods, and a wide selection of deli offerings, Good Chemistry has become an everyday stop for the locals of the Grand Lake area. This holiday season Jane and Rick have packed their pastry cases with a great selection of holiday favorites:

  • Gingerbread loaves and cookies
  • Tea loaves: cranberry nut and lemon poppyseed
  • Linzer torte cookies
  • Dinner rolls and stuffing cubes
  • Challah

Good Chemistry Baking
3249 Grand Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 350-7190

It wouldn’t be the holiday season without a stop at Mariposa Baking Company, located in Oakland on Telegraph Avenue. Now an East Bay mainstay, Mariposa Baking has been baking up some of the best gluten-free brownies, muffins, and pizza crusts since 2004. Owner Patti Furey Crane is known for her creative goodies, so you’re sure to find a range of delicious offerings in her display case. If you’re in the northern Peninsula, you can also get Mariposa Baking baked goods at San Bruno’s Carrot’s Coffee & Tea.

Worth mentioning: once you’re done shopping at Mariposa, head next door to The Wine Mine, where owner David Sharp stocks a great selection of gluten-free beers to take the edge off after a day of holiday shopping.

Mariposa Baking Company
The Wine Mine
5427 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 595-0955

Cranberry-Cognac Bread Pudding

Zest bakery has generous shared one of their most popular recipes: cranberry-cognac bread pudding. This dessert is so simple, you won’t even need a special gluten-free flour mix to make it. You can just use the loaf of gluten-free bread that’s been sitting in your freezer for the past month, waiting to be eaten, or make some homemade bread just for this dish.

Holiday Cranberry-Cognac Bread Pudding (Gluten-Free)
Compliments of Zest Bakery in San Carlos

Makes: 12 servings

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup cognac
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons orange zest
3 cups granulated sugar, divided
3 cups cubed, stale gluten-free bread
6 large eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 vanilla bean pod
4 tablespoons butter
Course sugar or turbinado sugar for sprinkling

1. Pour cranberries, cognac, water, orange zest and 1 cup of the granulated sugar into a small pot and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally to keep from burning. Turn off the heat and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan.
3. Arrange cubed bread in a single layer in the pan and spoon dollops of the cranberries over the bread. Add the remaining cubes of bread and spread with a few more spoonfuls of cranberries.
4. Mix together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and the remaining 2 cups of granulated sugar in a bowl. Split the vanilla bean pod lengthwise and use the tip of the spoon to scrape out the vanilla caviar. Add the vanilla caviar to the egg and milk mixture and whisk until combined. Pour mixture over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes.
5. Dot with butter and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until set. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Cranberry-Cognac Bread Pudding

Gluten-Free Bakeries Bring Holiday Cheer 7 December,2010Stephanie Stiavetti

  • I wish I still lived in the Bay Area! There are so many awesome choices! I have been to both Zest and Mariposa and LOVE them both! Now I have to check out Good Chemistry Baking – now just gives me an excuse to go back and visit the family and make a little trip to Oakland!! Thanks so much for sharing all of these with us! It is so great to know that there are such wonderful options out there for those of us eating gluten free! Now I just wish Arizona would step it up and open a few more stellar bakeries like the ones listed here!

  • Tia

    What a great post! Thanks for letting us know about the gluten-free bakeries around town. It’s good to know where I can go buy a treat if I don’t feel like making one. Can’t wait to read more of what you have to say.

  • Oh, to live near some of these great bakeries with yummy gluten-free offerings! Thanks so much for sharing them with us all, Stephanie! Some of my support group members brought home goodies from the Mariposa location in Oakland for our entire group to enjoy … it was such a treat for us all. Zest and Good Chemistry Baking both sound great, too. I’ll know where to go when I’m in the Bay Area next time. 🙂

    Thanks again!

  • Stephanie – what a treat (no pun intended) to read about the different bakeries. When I was in SF in October, I ate at Mariposa every single day for breakfast. To know that there are not two more GF bakeries is just astonishing. There is nothing like that where we live and I’m insanely jealous! Hopefully, we’re going to be back in Oakland next fall and I will for sure try all three of these bakeries!

  • See more reasons I need to move to CA. You guys get all the cool gluten free things!

  • This is a great resource for those traveling to the Bay Area. I tried Mariposa’s goodies on my last trip. They made me very happy.

  • I think I see a move to the bay area in my future! The cranberry bread pudding looks absolutely amazing and a local store here in New Mexico sells Mariposa’s gluten-free brownies and they are to die for!

  • claudine

    Wow…these look amazing! I wish could do a real-life taste test!

  • So many wonderful choices!

  • Amazing choice of bakeries and amazing-sounding treats! Not gluten-free here, but maybe I should be (?)

  • I’m convinced more and more GF bakeries will pop up as time passes. I wish your blog had existed when I was making desserts for my family! The photos are always so amazing. I don’t dare to make the recipes though, because I would put on so much weight, being the only one who loves desserts around here these days ….

  • I love bread pudding, but oh, the pain to make it. First bake GF bread, and then make pudding? I seem never to find the time for that much work. I only wish there was a GF bakery on this island so I could indulge myself with less work!

  • What an incredible selection of places and foods you have.

  • Susan

    Up with cheesecake? That sounds like my kind of place! 🙂

  • So great to see all these options available to you – California always sets the trend!

  • I love to see the GF crowd with such great choices. Jealous!

  • Even though I’m not GF, I love the idea of cooking with different ingredients. I keep thinking I’ll add almond flour instead of flour in some cookies–it just sounds tasty. I’m off to explore these bakeries sites for inspiration. Thanks for the yummy recipe.

  • Merr

    I love these posts you’re doing…I’m keeping them in mind for our next trip up north. I really like this kind of info from someone in the know. Thanks, thanks, thanks.

  • This post is a great resource. I have 2 friends who need to eat gluten free products. It’s good to know about such bakeries producing great treats.


Stephanie Stiavetti

Stephanie is a writer and cookbook author recovering from her former tech-startup life. On the side she’s also a media consultant, specializing in all forms of digital goodness: audio, video, print, design, and social media.

After leaving the tech world nearly a decade ago, Stephanie made a career jump to her lifetime love, writing. She currently writes for the Huffington Post, KQED’s Bay Area Bites, NPR, and other select media outlets. Her first cookbook,Melt: The Art of Macaroni and Cheese, is due out in fall 2013 on Little, Brown with coauthor Garrett McCord.

Being a recovering techy leaves an indelible mark, and everything Stephanie does is infused with her deep fascination with digital technology. She has been blogging since 1999, before blog engines even existed and a great readership consisted of a handful of friends who occasionally thought to check out your site. In 2005 she started her first food blog, which she repurposed in 2007 to become The Culinary Life.

Stephanie can be called many things: food writer, essayist, professional recipe developer, cookbook author, social media consultant, videographer, documentary maker, website developer, archivist of life. Despite all of these titles, she most commonly responds to Steph.

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