BabyCakes New York City Vegan Bakery Review

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BabyCakes NYC (with locations in Orlando and L.A. – Ships orders from online website)

From $40 a pie to a few dollars for a whoopee pie

Restaurant Type : Fine Dining | Casual
Diamonds : ♦♦♦♦♦♦

It’s a sunny morning in New York’s late fall. Cold weather last night, but the sun warmed resin bench I’m sitting on casts warmth up into my thighs, and with coffee from my favourite East Coast coffee shop—Roasting Plant—steaming away in my face, I feel oh so content and alive. But I’m also a little at a loss.

Pastry is particularly close to my heart. Elaborate wedding cakes covered in delicate icing sugar flowers, gingerbread castles with delicate spun sugar and stained glass windows—my mother is one of the world’s best bakers. I vividly remember afternoons spent together in the kitchen as she tried to pass on what she knew to an impatient kid that just wanted his sugar high. To this day, I enjoy little more than a quiet day in a sun-lit kitchen, turning out my favourite foods: tarte aux sucre, croissant, strawberry rhubarb pie, or cinnamon rolls.

All of this is to say I have high standards for pastry. As I sit and stare at a box of sweeties from Hollywood-star favourite Babycakes, I wonder, is it just me, or is this just not up to par?

I think back a couple of blocks, to the charming store front and the heavenly smell:

First, from the street, old fashioned lettering and a Main St. USA meets midcentury feeling. Scents of vanilla overtake and mask the exhaust and hot-dog perfume of the New York. In the window are toys and cabinetry in pastel colours—the perfect invitation to our bleary eyes. We walk through the door to a bustling counter and a moderate queue. Servers in baby-pink outfits with Noxema girl complexions chatter away to customers, and remain perky in the face of a barrage of highly specific questions about just how gluten free, “clean,” or organic each particular item is. In summation: not a lot is organic, but flours used are gluten free rice, fava and garbanzo, or non-gluten free spelt. Things are sweetened with agave, and coconut and canola oil are used as fats.

All of this goes more or less over our heads. Instead, our eyes are as saucer wide as cartoon character’s—we’re starting at a case that’s chockablock with sweets. Not pastries exactly—but American classics, cinnamon twists and whoopee pies, sandwich cookies and doughnuts, and chocolate brownies that look moist and dense. When it’s our turn at the counter our server has to ask us twice what we’d like. We apologize for our dazed state. She smiles and tells us not to worry about it.

For a moment, it feels like we are the only three people in New York—the service is truly fantastic, and we end up with a box that’s more full than we intended as a result of some clever recommendations.

Now three blocks later we open the box—and in the clear light of day, away from the pastel and glam, things look rather more plain. Still we’re eager as we divvy up the goods. We start off with the “Skinny Bun”—we were dubious about it from the start, but they’re the house special—a cinnamon bun made with spelt, and “They’re on Oprah’s Best List!”

A box of sweeties from BabyCakes

But the cinnamon roll isn’t worthy of the name. It’s dry and unleavened, a brick of gritty flour with raisins hard as rocks. With a sickly sweet stick of ‘glaze’ that delaminates from the top, it tastes like something from a rest-stop vending machine. Unthinkingly, I put it in my coffee, pretending its biscotti, and my next sip smells like antifreeze. It’s certainly the worst thing in the box, alas the rest isn’t much better. The baked doughnut is a soggy chewy sponge . . . the only item of six we like is a mint cream filled double chocolate cookie whoopee pie. Where most of the other goods are sickly sweet all over, here the cocoa allows us to eat our cookie without the cringe that every other iced good has induced.

Is it worth checking out? Absolutely. Especially if you have even further dietary restrictions, such as celiac disease—or are stuck at Downtown Disney in Orlando—but it’s certainly not the best vegan bakery in New York—in fact it’s my least favourite of those I’ve sampled.

 

A bare 2 stars on 6, because we really do appreciate their mandate, and the styling.

 

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