A new gluten and dairy free bakery opened this past October on New York City’s Upper East Side. Located on Lexington Avenue between 83rd and 84th Street, By The Way Bakery is a must-visit destination for gluten free foodies. Step into the little shop, and you are greeted by the heavenly fragrance of an assortment of freshly baked treats: delectable cakes, muffins, cookies, and brownies. Choose one of the pastries and order a coffee or tea to go. It’s the perfect way to start a gluten free morning in the city.
This is the third location for By The Way Bakery, which also has a store on the West Side (on Broadway between 90th and 91st) and another about forty minutes north of Manhattan in the small, suburban village of Hastings-on-Hudson (my own old hometown). The Hastings location is where it all began.
By The Way Bakery’s Story
When I visited the store on the Upper East Side, I had the pleasure of spending some time with By The Way Bakery’s proprietor, Helene Godin. She told me the fascinating story of how she started her first bakery in Hastings.
When Helene originally moved to Hastings with her husband Seth Godin, she was working as a lawyer in New York City. Helene loved her work and could not imagine pursuing a different profession. As the years passed, however, she eventually decided to leave her successful career in law. Freed from the demanding hours of her previous job, she found herself with a lot of time on her hands and was eager to begin a new project.
Although she had lived in Hastings for years, her work as a lawyer had prevented her from truly getting to know her town. A bakery, she thought, would be a wonderful way to develop a strong relationship with her community. Helene didn’t let the fact that she had no experience with baking or the food industry stop her. Her entrepreneurial spirit was up for the challenge.
One day, when her bakery was still in the planning stages, Helene was browsing the aisles of the local supermarket. She noticed a new section entirely devoted to gluten free food. This sparked an idea.
Perhaps people would not be willing to drive from nearby towns to Hastings just for a delicious muffin or cake, but for a delicious gluten free one they just might.
She was entirely new to the gluten free diet, but again she didn’t let that stop her. She researched every day and began teaching herself not only how to bake from scratch, but also how to bake gluten free. She laughs when remembering the early days before she knew the difference between the baking and broiling settings on her oven.
However, Helene’s dedication paid off. After fifty-two attempts, she perfected a recipe for absolutely mouthwatering, gluten free chocolate chip cookies. Her mission was clear. She wanted her baked goods to be so irresistible that the fact they were gluten free would only be incidental. Hence the “By The Way” in the bakery’s name. For example: These brownies are exquisitely soft and chewy and, by the way, they are also gluten free.
Remembering back to my days before I was following a gluten-free diet, I can say without a doubt that the bakery’s treats are even better than pastries you might try at conventional bakeries.
By The Way Bakery Today
The bakery in Hastings became so popular that Helene opened the two locations in New York City. All of the pastries are baked fresh daily in the Hastings location and delivered each morning to the New York City bakeries. At the end of the day, any leftover pastries are donated to local food pantries.
Helene hopes to expand with more bakeries across the United States and even internationally. The bakery’s cakes are already available in nine Whole Foods around the city, and Jeremy McKendry, who specialized in bread baking at the French Culinary Institute and previously worked at Mario Batali’s Eataly Market, now works as By The Way Bakery’s head baker.
Gluten Free Comes First
Unlike many people who start gluten free businesses, Helene does not suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity or any kind of a wheat allergy. Rather, she bakes gluten free because she wants people with dietary restrictions to be able to enjoy delicious pastries.
Because the bakery is 100% gluten free, those with celiac disease can rest assured that there is no worry of cross-contamination. And the bakery isn’t only gluten free, but also dairy free and certified kosher.
For those with very specific dietary concerns, Helene has two binders on hand: one that lists every single ingredient in each of the pastries and another with information about any outside products that she uses.
At the moment, Helene is working on a cookbook full of recipes of many of the bakery’s treats (I can’t wait to try my hand at whipping up some of these wonderful pastries in my own kitchen).
What should you try when you drop by the bakery? Helene’s favorite is the coconut cloud cake, but really anything you try will be incredibly tasty.
Make sure to stop in around the holidays too as there are always special treats available like a gluten free cornbread for this Thanksgiving.
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- Gluten Free Dining at Colors Restaurant, NYC - January 28, 2015