Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bakery Review: Katz Gluten-Free Bake Shoppe

Chocolate Strip

Katz Gluten-Free Bake Shoppe - founded in 2006 and based in Monroe, NY - is one of the growing number of dedicated gluten-free bakeries across the country selling direct to consumers as well as through retail outlets such as supermarkets. Like Shabtai Gourmet (also based in NY), Katz seems to have found success first crafting Kosher gluten-free goods for the Jewish community, which then transitioned into a kind of mass appeal among consumers. Katz makes its line of breads, cakes, cookies and other baked goods in a dedicated gluten-, dairy-, and nut-free facility, and everything they make is certified gluten-free by the GIG, so you know you're getting genuinely gluten-free goods.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The package of product samples they sent us included an assortment of cookies, cakes and cupcakes. The one glaring omission was their challah breads and rolls, which I'm very curious to try. For the most part, everything looked gorgeous. When it came to taste and texture, we had mixed opinions. Some things we loved. Others we could live without.

Cinnamon Rugelech


The cookies were by far Katz's forte. Taste and texture were both superb. The chocolate chip cookies reminded us of a smaller, fatter Chips Ahoy cookie. We mean this as a compliment. The cinnamon rugelech had great cinnamon-sugar flavor, and while the outermost "ring" was slightly dry, overall the moisture and crumb of the rugelech was very nice. The apricot tart - a dollop of apricot jam in the center of a kind of sugar cookie - was divine.


Kats also makes a line of baked goods they call "strips," which are basically a rolled loaf with some kind of flavor between the layers of the roll. (See the top-most photo in this post.) Like the rugelech, the outermost layer was slightly dry, but the rest of the loaf was deliciously moist. We were impressed with how thin each layer of the loaf was, and - for example - the chocolate strip had the flavor of the dough and the flavor of the chocolate in perfect balance. Neither dominated too strongly.

Marble Cake

Cakes and Cupcakes

If Katz has an Achilles heel, it is the cakes and cupcakes. While they look great, their texture tended to be surprisingly dry, somewhat dense, and in some cases, bland. This was true across multiple flavors of both cakes and cupcakes. In the end, we turned much of the cakes and cupcakes into a kind of bread pudding - tearing them into pieces, and loading them up in a baking pan with vanilla, cinnamon, milk and eggs, and then baking the whole thing. That was our favorite way to eat Katz's cakes and cupcakes.

The Bottom Line

There's much to love about Katz, but it pays to know what to buy...and what not to. For our money, stick with the cookies and rugelech. You won't be disappointed.

- Pete

* When Katz contacted us and other gluten-free bloggers, they offered an incentive to bloggers, where the blogger that referred the most customers to Katz would receive compensation. We voluntarily declined to participate and opted out of this "incentive program," because a) it would compromise our objectivity, and b) goes against our policy of only accepting product samples from companies for the purpose of review. We do not accept any forms of compensation - monetary or otherwise - for the reviews we write.


Nicole Lavella said...

I'm glad you found a great gluten-free bakery! I'm originally from the east coast and had trouble finding one, but once I moved to Phoenix, AZ, I found Gluten-Free Creations Bakery and was thrilled. (If you're ever out in the desert, they make AWESOME donuts.)

I also respect your decision to refuse "incentives"--it keeps up the spirit of true blogging!

peterbronski said...

Hi Nicole... I might be in Phoenix in Oct. I'll have to check out the bakery you recommend!

Cheers, Pete