Photo courtesy of Derek Bennion / Tazza Kitchen
Tazza Kitchen's gluten-free orange-almond cake with salted caramel gelato
Let’s talk about cakes. I like a tall, dark and handsome cake with at least three (but preferably … seven?) layers of yellow, pillowy softness with chocolate fudge icing and no decoration. Have I found a gluten-free match made in Richmond? No. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried, and like Hansel and Gretel, left a long trail of crumbs along the way.
We’ll tack on cupcakes and brownies to the cake category in this post, too, so you can go on a proper sugar rampage. It’s actually fairly easy to get your gluten-free sugar coma on in Richmond — easier, even, than some bigger cities. (What the hell, San Francisco? I thought we were friends.) And let it be known that I do not consider flourless chocolate “cake” to be cake. That is not cake and it does not belong on a menu as such. It belongs in the '90s.
The most important cake I’ve ever eaten, my wedding cake, was hand-crafted in Richmond by a true master: Amanda Robinson at Sweet Fix. It was gluten-free princess white cake with raspberry and fudge filling, perfect vanilla buttercream icing painstakingly imprinted with wood grain, and little clusters of sugar-sculpted ferns and mushrooms tucked into the sides. Sometimes I still browse the Sweet Fix website, quietly uttering the immortal words of Rihanna: I want that cake cake cake cake cake cake cake cake.
Here are some more amazing gluten-free cakes, cupcakes and brownies that you can get your hands on right now:
1. Garnett’s Café. Most recently at Garnett’s, I had a ridiculous apple spice cake with cinnamon buttercream frosting. It almost overcame my love for their “Elvis” banana cake with peanut butter frosting, but not quite. There’s always a GF cake and pie option at Garnett’s. Love.
2. Pearl’s Cupcake Shoppe. Pearl’s doesn’t hold back on flavor. My favorite cupcake there is the Campfire, which is a chocolate cake with GF graham cracker crumbs pressed into the bottom, topped with marshmallow cream and dipped in chocolate ganache. Decadence at its best.
3. Tazza Kitchen. Oh, Tazza. You get me. Almond-orange cake with salted caramel gelato? Queso fresco cake with macerated blackberries and crème fraîche semifreddo? I’m slayed. I love how each dessert is built around GF cake, but incorporates other goodies like fresh fruit, mint, honey, ice cream and sauces.
4. WPA Bakery. I’ll admit that WPA might be on every list I make, ever. They’re just doing so much good for us gluten-free folks. Cake-wise, the hummingbird and lemon-ricotta are undeniable.
5. Southbound. I went to Southbound on my birthday specifically because I wanted their luscious, butter-drenched almond cake with miso caramel and strawberries to be my birthday cake. Enough said.
6. The Daily Kitchen & Bar. This is the spot for the brownie sundae lover. A dark chocolate almond brownie covered in ice cream and strawberries is never a bad idea. Also on the menu, but yet to be taste-tested: chocolate lava cake with mango ancho sauce and cocoa nibs.
7. Good Foods Grocery. Coconut cake. It’s the only one I’ve located around town, and it’s my second favorite flavor. It’s not soaked with coconutty condensed milk like the one my best friend’s mom makes (which is now canon in my mind), but it does the trick when the urge hits.
8. 3 Fellers. Okay, 3 Fellers isn’t a location, it’s a local GF brand that you can get at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market and Kroger. I include it because they make the best freakin’ brownie out there, if you like dense, iced brownies that you can eat with a fork. Actually, they make three: raspberry, mint and peanut butter, all topped with a heavy slab of fudgy chocolate.
About selections one through seven: While these facilities make every effort to maintain the integrity of their gluten-free products, they do also make products containing gluten, soy, nuts, flour, dairy and other known allergens. Three Fellers is the only 100-percent certified gluten-free kitchen on the list.