Gluten Free Vegan Bakery in North Seattle Washington: Fremont’s Flying Apron Baked Goods Reviewed

September 24th, 2008 yum Posted in Baked Goods, Gluten Free bakery, Restaurant Review, Seattle, Vegan, Washington State 4 Comments »

Flying Apron Bakery
3510 Fremont Ave North
Seattle, WA 98103
(206) 442-1115

On a recent trip to the Northwest, I happened to have some time to kill in Seattle, Washington. I did a little online research and somehow stumbled upon a gluten-free VEGAN bakery hiding in Seattle’s Fremont district called The Flying Apron. I was charmed by the name, and excited by the thought of a vegan and gluten-free bakery. Many gluten-free bakeries attempt to replicate standard American (non-veg) dishes, and I’ve been disappointed by the lack of veggie pizza (or other savory veg options) at otherwise wonderful and entirely gluten-free bake shops. I had a feeling this place wouldn’t disappoint me, especially once I looked at their enticing menu with plenty of savory vegan dishes along with sweets. According to this article, the Flying Apron was started by father Bill and his daughter Jennifer Dowd. Initially they had two locations in the U-District and Elliot Bay but have since consolidated into a single North Seattle location in Fremont.

As they explain their mission:
Flying Apron Bakery in Seattle provides vegan, gluten-free and wheat-free morning pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, breads, savory snacks and more which are made using the finest organic ingredients; whole grain wheat free flours and organic non hydrogenated oils. The Flying Apron is a wheat free, gluten free and vegan bakery. Many of our products are alternatively sweetened as well. (source:

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When I walked into their charming Fremont location, I was immediately impressed by the warm, cozy atmosphere. They were also bustling with customers; always a good sign. The people behind the counter were friendly and cheerful, and the extensive array of baked goods behind the counter was truly impressive. It felt like the perfect Seattle coffeeshop/bakehouse- and it was a bakehouse that just happened to be gluten-free and vegan. Dizzied by the selection, I had to find a table and find my bearings at first. What to get, what to get? As might be expected from a place with mostly organic, specialty ingredients, prices were a trifle steep. And since the DH and I had literally been gluten-free dining our way through the Northwest, I didn’t want to go too crazy. I asked the staff for suggestions- unfortunately, they tended to like the gluten-free oat based goodies, and I didn’t want to try them while on the road. I was on my own.

I knew I wanted something savory, but I was torn between the Individual Pizzas ($4.25), pot pie ($6.95) or Calzones ($ 6.95). I narrowed it down to calzones, but even then I had to choose between Italian, Moroccan, or Curry veggie fillings. It was torture, but finally I decided on the curry filling. Coconut milk was just too tempting to pass up. While I was drooling over the savory goods, I decided to pick up a loaf of their hearty, artisan style House Bread ($7.95). It’s always handy to have GF bread when traveling, right? Right? Ok, I was looking for any excuse, I’ll admit it. Then I wanted something sweet, but not too sweet. What to pick… I ended up with an adorable Berry Scone ($3.25). I did consider getting a soup or salad, but when they very nicely offered a small sample of the tomato-bean soup, I found it a bit bland. Both the bread and the scone were for later, but I wanted to at least try the calzone in the cozy shop. They warmed it up for me and DH and I sat at one of the large, wooden tables and had some with water poured from their adorable blue pitcher. Vegan friends and a couple on a date sat all around us and the shop hummed with activity and voices- the ideal environment. But how was the food?

*entirely subjective review follows. I highly recommend you try these dishes for yourself and see if you agree- and if not, tell me about it in the comments, so other readers can get a more varied perspective*
I cut open the calzone and was impressed by the vibrant, lovely vegetables inside as well as the curry aroma. When I took a bite, I could taste the freshness of the vegetables as well as the smooth, rich coconut milk. It was good, although I thought the yams could have been a little smaller and flavored with a little more onion, garlic… and maybe ginger. I was impressed by the sturdiness of the calzone casing- I know from personal experience how difficult that kind of pastry can be to work with, and I’d never tried making one so thick before. Due to that thickness, I did find that some parts of the pastry were a little chewy rather than crunchy, and I ended up leaving those bits rather than eating them. The sealed edges were nice and crunchy, and I appreciated the whole-grain flavor, although I think it’s a dish you need vegan sensibilities to truly appreciate. DH refused to even try it… he’s not a big fan of curry and is very, very picky about vegan foods. *sigh* To be fair, he also wasn’t feeling well, so he was an unusually difficult sell at the time. Rating? 10/10 for offering it… 6/10 for the filling, 5/10 for the crust… I liked it, but couldn’t possibly eat the whole thing and… well, probably wouldn’t order it again. I just prefer my own samosa/calzone recipe with its thinner, crunchier crust (although there is more fat in my recipe). Also, although I liked many elements of the filling, I like the filling I’ve made with more traditional Indian recipes better… However, I would definitely give their other savory dishes a try, and I have to say that they have the most interesting vegetarian options I’ve ever seen at a gluten-free bakery. Yay for creative gluten-free vegetarian bakers!

After having enjoyed half of the enormous calzone, we drove on to visit my grandparents and spend the night at their home. The next day I had what I am almost certain* was the Flying Apron’s delicious [blue]berry scone ($3.25) made from organic brown rice flour, organic garbanzo bean flour, organic evaporated cane juice, and organic canola oil. While some might not care for the healthy, whole grain flavors of the scone- I loved their contrast with the crunchy sugar crystals on top and soft, melt-in-your-mouth blueberries. DH didn’t covet it- but I loved it and would definitely, absolutely order it again. It suited my palate exactly. 10/10 for offering such an adorable vegan blueberry scone… and 8.5/10 for flavor and execution, with the caveat that those not accustomed to vegan products or looking to exactly replicate a buttery gluten scone may not find it as much to their taste. (But definitely give it a shot!)
*my confusion comes from the fact that I didn’t photograph the scones with their sign and their menu doesn’t include photos.

The final product I tried from the Flying Apron was their House Bread ($7.95) made from organic brown rice flour, organic garbanzo bean flour, organic pumpkin, and organic flax meal (among other goodies). I was intrigued by the artisanal qualities of the bread; its round and crusty exterior, as well as the hearty flour base. However, this was no light and fluffy loaf in its paper brown sack- this was a sturdy loaf of bread for survival. I had a bit of trouble carrying it, to tell you the truth. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Terry Pratchett’s indestructible “dwarf bread.” (If link doesn’t take you to pg. 65, press go on the search for dwarf bread and select the first option for pg. 65) When I cut it open later, I felt it had more the texture of a heavy muffin, and I was sorry to say that the flavor just didn’t work for me. I used it for some extremely crumbly sandwiches for on the road and ended up pitching the rest. I know it is a huge challenge to make vegan, gluten-free, healthy bread… but if you’re going to use garbanzo bean flour, I have personally had the best results with Bette Hagman’s recipes, substituting egg replacer and non-dairy milk if needed. However, I have to give them huge kudos for the effort- and the bread isn’t without its fans, so you might find it worth a try. 10/10 for offering such a cool-looking gluten-free round loaf, 8/10 for the crust, and 3/10 for flavor and internal texture. I would not buy it again.

The fun thing about a place like this is that if you don’t like one or two of their offerings- there are lots more to choose from! I don’t know how strong the appeal will be to gluten-free folks that aren’t vegan and can and choose to consume dairy and eggs, but I thought this was a really fun and cozy local business that I’d love to support if I lived in the area. Luckily lots of other people seem to like it too, so I have high hopes that this is one gluten-free bakery that will be around for a nice long time.

A good review of Flying Apron Bakery by a Glutenoid
Please let me know in the comments if you’ve got your own review of Flying Apron Products and I’ll add a link here!

Updated Jan 2010: News about Jennifer Katzinger of the Flying Apron- yes, there is a cookbook!

Other fun things: The Fremont neighborhood is an adorable, up-and-coming area with cute restaurants, fun shopping, Peet’s coffee, and even a grocery/yuppie health food store, PCC, down the street. If you have time, wander the area. We enjoyed some lovely tea at Peets and I prowled the PCC grocery store. Besides the usual gluten-free mixes and a few gluten-free pastas, the most interesting find was WOW cookies, made in Kent, Washington. While they’re not vegan, they are gluten-free, and I find their brownies absolutely delicious. I tried each of the cookies, and while I enjoyed the peanut butter cookie, the chocolate chip and ginger molasses both had a rather strong buttery flavor that I didn’t care for. I love the convenience, though- and the fact that at last we have a decadent, individually-wrapped gluten-free cookie option. Now if they will just start selling them outside of the Northwest…

(Speaking of Kent, Washington- While I was looking for WOW’s web site, I found a new gluten-free bakery in Kent called Haley’s Corner. Let me know if you get a chance to try it! Why is the Northwest such a hotbed of awesome gluten-free bakeries and restaurants??!! Seattle has tons of gluten-free bakeries and we all know how wonderful Portland’s gluten-free bakeries and restaurants are!)

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Gluten Free Bakeries and Restaurants in Seattle, Washington: Sunny Valley Wheat Free and Da Vinci Cafe and Bakery

February 6th, 2008 yum Posted in Maple Valley, Seattle, Washington State 12 Comments »

Da Vinci Cake

In 2006 I went to Seattle to attend my cousin’s wedding and while I was in town, I tried the goodies at two two gluten-free bakery cafes. One was located in Maple Vally, Washington and was called “Sunny Valley Wheat Free,” and the other was located in Seattle, Washington and was called Da Vinci. I had a great experience at both places and immediately typed up reports to share with my fellow SillyYaks members on Yahoo Groups. I hadn’t thought about it much since, but the other day a reader mentioned that she was planning a trip to Seattle soon. I have links to both places posted on my blog, but without a review it’s hard to know what to expect, so I thought, why not revisit that old review that I’d written and share it again with you here? Enjoy, and I hope you get the chance to visit these two wonderful gluten-free havens located in my beloved home state.

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Sunny Valley Wheat Free
22035 SE Wax Rd. #10
Maple Valley, WA 98038

*This bakery is no longer open to the public- A note on their web site states that “In early 2010 we moved to Kent, WA and transitioned from a retail establishment to distributed wholesale.” Check their web site for information on where you can get their tasty products. There are other gluten-free bakeries in Seattle, so check out my other reviews. -Sea 8/2011*

Sunny Valley Wheat Free is located in the Maple Valley area, not too far from the Sea Tac Airport. I was really excited about visiting a GF bakery, and scheduled a breakfast/ lunch trip to their store. I was especially interested in their pizza and other hot items. The bakery is located in a very modern, clean new shopping area. The store is very neatly organized, with gluten free goods stored in refrigerators and shelves around the room. At the time (two years ago) they turned their ovens off on Saturday and were closed on Sunday so I was unable to get a hot pizza, sniff, but they may have changed things since then. At that time they also did not have tables or chairs for in-house dining. I’m not sure what the situation is like now.

I was impressed by the wide variety of goods, including hard to find and labor intensive items like real homemade graham crackers, cheese crackers, and miniature bread sticks. They also had a fabulous range of desserts, including cakes, chocolate eclairs, miniature cheesecakes, tons of donuts with different toppings, and about 10 flavors of scones.

They also had ice cream sandwiches- which were delicious, but HUGE! I couldn’t eat a whole one and had to recruit DH to help me out. Also something in the creamy filling made me really thirsty. I bought the miniature strawberry cheesecakes (kinda like cheesecake muffins) and took them to the wedding, pulling them out of my purse and enjoying when everyone was eating cake. The eclairs were amazing- I stored them in my hotel refrigerator and enjoyed them later. I was especially impressed by the unique texture of the eclair pastry. It was unlike anything I’d ever had and was flakey but not oily. The sweet creamy filling was also nice. And can you believe- a GF eclair? Clearly there is a master baker at Sunny Valley Wheat Free- no novice here!

I also couldn’t resist the cutest GF holiday cookies that were shaped like adorable leaves and frosted just like a Starbucks or other gourmet cookie! They tasted pretty good, although were slightly dry by the time I could bear to eat something so cute.

They have a wide variety of breads available, and one of their newest breads (at the time) incorporated bean flour for what is, IMO, a superior springy and moist product, compared to the white rice tapioca etc. blends. However, (at that time) most of their breads seem to be based on white rice flour- good for those with bean allergies, but this may have changed. I bought their onion bread, but they also had cheese jalapeno and seed bread etc. Next time I’d buy the brown bread (with bean flour)- I tried a sample and it was great. I had the onion bread the next morning and found it a little heavy and dry- but the flavor was good.

I was given a sample of their maple bar, and had to take it home because it was so rich I could only eat a few bites. But, it was very good and I found it both fluffy and tasty. The woman there said it was the same base as their donuts. Her favorite was actually the scones, rather than the donut based stuff. I bought a tasty orange cranberry scone- unfortunately mine had some little bitter pockets of baking powder(?)- but my initial impression was very positive.

They had tons of gorgeous giant monster cookies, too. I bought snickerdoodle, but they were all tempting. Another customer was there for his weekly GF food run- he bought about 8 packs of their graham crackers and some frozen ready to bake cookies, so that is an advertisement in of itself.

Although I was bummed about not getting to try any of their pizza, if my hotel had an oven I could have bought some mini frozen pizzas complete with toppings. This place had several GF hearty options that were vegetarian, as well as lots of chicken etc. pasta dishes as well for those interested- lasagna, ravioli, and pizza) I bought cheese ravioli (Yay!!!) for a very reasonable price- under $5, maybe even under $4. Microwave in its container and you can have homemade ravioli with no muss, no fuss, and no pulling out the pasta machine. It was wonderful- being the freaky foodie I am, I kinda wished they’d had more gourmet fillings- pumpkin and mushroom, spinach ricotta etc- but I really enjoyed having microwaved ravioli in our hotel room late that night. Soooo good! I would totally buy these all the time if I lived in Washington. They also had some ready made soup (slightly pricey) in several varieties, including vegetarian. *with cost of ingredients rising, prices have undoubtedly increased since 2006.

I really enjoyed my visit. I was EXTREMELY impressed with how ambitious and varied their offerings were. I’d love to see them go into the gf frozen food business and give, say, Amy’s, a run for their money with some GF certified products. I had several things I’ve never had before in my life, and while I don’t really feel like I need these things in my life all the time, it’s definitely fun to have a special treat once in a while. Also, the prices were pretty darned good, compared to Whole Foods GF bakehouse in California, at any rate. If you’re in the area, definitely make it a GF stop- especially if you will have access to a microwave in your future.

List and pics of the goodies you can currently expect to find in their store

Looking for a more recent review?
Try Celiac in The House’s Review in May of 2009

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789d.jpgcimg2932.jpgDa Vinci, Bakery and Cafe*
10003 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98133
*url updated 8/2011- they are still in business! yay!

Store hours as of 8/22/2011 *confirm before you make the drive:
Monday to Saturday 8am – 5pm
Sundays 8am – 3pm

*NEWS 8/2011 They are transitioning to be an entirely rice-free bakery this month! This is wonderful news for those who must be rice-free as well as dairy-free. :D

We also made a special trip to Da Vinci, a gluten free bakery housed in a charming little house in North Seattle. It is always mind boggling to walk into somewhere where I can eat any darned thing I like, and this little cafe was no exception. They have a lovely bookshelf full of savory breads (most dairy free) and tons of absolutely stunning sweet desserts in a refrigerator case, as well as other stuff sprinkled across the counters and some daily specials.

On my 2006 visit, most of the savories (besides the breads) had meat in some form or another, so it was a little tricky finding daily meal bits that were
vegetarian. They had a roasted red pepper quiche and a feta salad- otherwise, the pizzas all included meat. DH had a lovely pizza with bacon, cream cheese, and cheddar which he quite enjoyed. Meanwhile I enjoyed the red pepper quiche and shared a cherry strudel and blueberry cinnamon roll with my Mother.

Da Vinci has mastered the art of creating clever espresso beverages (see their menu- I had the picasso- or whichever one has cayenne and orange… note, I couldn’t really taste the bite of the cayenne). At the time of my visit, they were a fairly new bakery so it seemed that they might not have completely decided on their menu. In 2006 they seem to use some of the traditional gluten free flours (rice, tapioca, potato) and haven’t really gone into the bean or sorghum flours, so some of their savory or plain breads were slightly heavy for my taste. (This may have changed, so take this comment with a grain of salt.) However, avoiding bean flour would make them an excellent choice for bean sensitive individuals, and they do have an egg-free, dairy-free line also helpful for those with multiple intolerances. However, I did make myself a lovely sandwich later with their new onion hot dog bun, and it was very nice!

Later I also used their dairy free sun dried tomato bread for very flavorful crumbs on a eggplant parmesan- made a vegan parmesan for my mother with toasted pine nuts and this bread that she really liked. DH and I also bought a slice of one of their exquisite cakes- mocha espresso frosting… DH said it was “just like a normal store bought cake” and i liked it a lot as well. We shared a slice for our respective birthdays and enjoyed it thoroughly. Gorgeous! It was probably the highlight of my visit.

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I can’t tell you how thrilling it is that these gluten-free cafes and bakeries are popping up all over the United States. But you know, they all rely on our business to stay afloat- so lets make sure to support our gluten-free bakeries whenever we have a chance, whether local or a traveler’s destination. Eating all those goodies is a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it!

Traveling to Portland? Read about my visit to a gluten-free cafe bakery and fish house!
Near Sacramento in Davis, California? Read about Davis’ GF Farmer Cafe
In Berkeley, California? Check out my report on the GF friendly Cafe Gratitude
In Oakland, California? Visit the GF Cafe Mariposa Bakeshop
Read about my adventures at the Italian restaurant Mangiamo with a fabulous GF menu in Windsor, Ca

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