Maybe I’m not the best person to review a gluten-free bakery. My body does not seem to have an adverse reaction to gluten. I have not suffered countless loaves of bread that taste like cardboard boxes. I haven’t choked down gritty, hard-as-rocks cookies in pretend enjoyment. But maybe because I haven’t tasted exactly how terrible gluten-free baking can be, I am just the person for the job, coming to things unbiased with fresh eyes and a clean palate.
E’s Gluten Free Bakery (a Black-owned business!) is a dedicated and certified gluten-free bakery run by a mother and son duo, Earie and Kwesi Seals. With a passion for baking since she was a young girl, Earie got her start baking gluten-free goodies as a favor for her family and friends. Now a licensed home bakery on the eastside of Iowa City, E’s offers customers a range of treats from cookies and cakes to savory and sweet breads, and even accepts custom orders. Everything is baked to order, ensuring the freshest and best-tasting product.
I ordered two flavors of cookies (white chocolate cranberry and chocolate chip) and a loaf of flax seed and brown rice bread. My treats were delivered a few days later by E herself and after a brief but lovely socially distant chat, I was able to tuck into my order. After my first bite of a cookie, it became painfully obvious I had made a mistake not ordering more; I had to hide them from myself. The white chocolate cranberry cookies are E’s signature treat and “the one which people unfailingly claim, ‘This cannot be gluten-free! It’s way too good!’” They were truly delicious, and not just for a gluten-free cookie. I will happily and eagerly buy and consume these cookies again and again.
I’m a member of the Soft and Chewy Cookie camp, so these were really a homerun as far as I’m concerned. Moist and flavorful and not too sweet, they were quite honestly baked to perfection. Most cookies these days suffer the Goldilocks effect — either too big (you can’t eat very many) or too small (you eat so many you lose count), but E’s cookies are just the right size. Reminiscent of cookies made by your mom or grandma, they were comforting and homey in the best way possible and struck just the right chord.
The bread was a delight, too. The massive loaf was packed with flavor and a nice crumb encased by a chewy, soft crust. I think it’s best toasted and slathered with too much salty butter, but I have no doubt it would make a respectable base layer for the sandwich of your choosing. Because it was so big (and because I don’t eat a lot of bread to begin with) I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the whole loaf before it passed its prime. E’s website mentions their bread freezes well, so I sliced it up and packed it away in the freezer.
Future me will be thankful for a freezer stash of great bread when I’m craving some toast, but I’ll need to place another order for those cookies before too long.
Tip: Order online to get exactly what you want; your treats are typically ready in two day’s time.
Bonus tip: E’s is offering free local delivery during COVID-19. For instant gratification, you can find a selection of E’s goodies at Iowa City and Coralville Hy-Vee’s and at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics cafeterias.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 285.