Oh, Baby!

Even if you’re thousands of miles away from New York City, or even on the other side of the world, I’m willing to bet that you’ve at least heard of Babycakes, the 100% vegan bakery that also caters to celiacs, diabetics, and above all else, people who really just want good cake. Seeming to be the answer to an unspoken question, this hot spot has been thriving since it opened in 2005, and is in fact doing so well that there are plans to open a west coast outpost in Los Angeles in the works. That’s not the most exciting morsel of news Erin McKenna, the proprietor and baker extraordinaire, has to share with her fans: No matter where you live, you can now enjoy all of those wonderful offerings found at Babycakes, thanks to their newly released cookbook that divulges all their secrets.

So, what’s the secret, you may wonder? I certainly did, and quickly flipping through the pages in a mad rush not unlike a sugar-high, my first thought was that it must be all that coconut oil. Yes, what was truly striking was how much coconut oil these recipes called for, and pretty much no other type of fat at all. That, plus the special gluten-free flour mixes, powdered soymilk, coconut powder, and so on make each recipe a fairly expensive venture. At the very least though, it certainly explains the relatively steep prices that the bakery charges. You’re definitely paying for quality here though; There are few ways around such expenses if you want to make a dessert without refined sugar or flour that’s still edible.

Immediately I was drawn to the cupcakes, the focal point of this little bakery, and especially the frosting. The book would have been worth buying if only for the frosting recipe, but unfortunately, I never could get it quite right. After turning into a lumpy, curdled mess, only an overnight stay in the freezer and then a vigorous second blending helped smooth the mixture out at all, but even then it was far too thin to consider piling on top of a cake. It pains me to think of the the whole 1 1/2 cups of coconut oil that was wasted.

At the very least, the Chocolate Cupcakes worked out just as written, rising just above the papers to achieve nice flat tops. Alone, they weren’t much to talk about, and did have a slight bean-y flavor thanks to the garfava flour, but overall were decent gluten-free cupcakes. Frosted, I’m sure these would be downright delicious.

While they may look like short cupcakes, these are actually gluten-free Blondies. Curious as to how such a creation might be possible, I couldn’t resist these round little sweets. Strongly flavored with vanilla, I loved the taste, but the texture left a bit to be desired. Much more like a moist cake than a blondie, I would simply call these tea cakes if serving them to an unsuspecting crowd. Unfortunately, these may not be for everyone, as my mom announced that her “favorite part about these were the chocolate chips” after trying one.

Going for one of the non-gluten-free recipes, the Raspberry Scones seemed promising. Very simple in construction and made with hearty spelt flour, these are something you don’t need to feel guilty about eating for breakfast. Again, they were much like tea cakes in texture, and not exactly what I would think of as a scone, but over all I truly enjoyed these little treats along with a strong cup of coffee in the morning.

If you’re looking for healthier, less-processed baked goods with classic flavors, or gluten-free desserts, this is the book for you. Despite having a fair share of hits and misses, it’s ultimately a beautiful cookbook with lots of helpful tips and ideas for creating your own sweet masterpieces, no matter your dietary restrictions. I’ll admit that it probably won’t be the first book I’ll turn to myself, but it will still hold a prominent place on my bookshelf.

Does any of that sound good to you? If so, then I’d love to give you a copy of the book as well! Just leave me a comment and tell me: What would be the first thing you’d like to make from it if you win? No double comments, please. The giveaway will close May 28 at midnight EST, and the winner will be announced the following day. Good luck!

158 thoughts on “Oh, Baby!

  1. Sure I’d love to try the cupcakes first! Red Velvet for sure. But the very first thing woudl be the cookie sandwiches!

  2. Great review! I am compiling a list of cookbooks for family to bring me to Deutschland when they visit, and this may well have to go on the list…especially since it may be a long time before I find myself anywhere near the bakery.

  3. hi! i love your blog and read it religiously since a friend purchased your cookbook for me last hanukkah. as far as the babycakes cookbook, i too flipped through it excitedly the other day at work (barnes and noble). i would love to try her banana bread first. as for a similar icing that works out very well, try vegan cupcakes take over the world’s natural agave icing if you haven’t already.

  4. I would love to make the chocolate shortbread caramelized banana scones. I was going to say healthy hostess but I have discovered if I make any dessert with the idea it’s healthy I eat double the amount I usually would! And thank you for the honest critique of the flaws and pluses of this book.

  5. the lemon cherry cupcakes sound amazing but I am also looking to try the legendary frosting (if I can get it to work). :)

  6. Too bad about the recipes, I was looking into this book too but ehh, now I think I’ll pass.

    Unless of course it comes free in this giveaway ;) I would love to try the blondies!

  7. I’d love to try out those cupcakes! I’m newly gluten and dairy free, so any baking guidance is always appreciated – I’d LOVE to win this book

  8. The agave-sweetened brownie gems sound pretty freaking good to me. I’d try them as I’ve just purchased a veritable vat of agave.

  9. Oh I would definitely make the Strawberry Shortcake recipe…I think it’s a sweet biscuit with vanilla icing in between and strawberries in the middle and on top. It looks absolutely delicious.

  10. I was lucky enough to stop by there and try some of their stuff a few weeks ago. I do remember the carrot cake being a little on the dry side but I had a slice of a chocolate mud cake that was absolutely delicious, I hope thats in the cookbook!!

  11. OOOh the scones. Is there anything better on a spring morning than a scone and a cup of coffee/ tea outside in the garden?

  12. Well normally I would probably go for the icing, but after reading what you said (and being a person who abhors waste) I am thinking one of the cupcake recipes. Those are great for sharing and I have people who I want to convince that veganism isn’t about deprivation.

  13. Blackberry Peach and Oat Cobbler would be my first adventure. I am waiting for the summer fruits to come!


  14. I would try some of the basics like chocolate chip cookies and chocolate cupcakes! My mom eats gluten-free and I think it is those “staples” that she misses most!

  15. I’m so curious about the frosting recipes, I’d probably whip up a batch of that first.

  16. A Babycakes in Los Angeles? I’m so there.

    I’m a scone girl, so the first thing I would make would be scones. YUM.

  17. mmm! i made the raspberry scones today, except i used strawberries. i really liked them!

  18. i have come across some oil based frosting recipes. i am always hesitant to try those out for the exact same reasons! and i have never even heard of coconut oil being used in frostings! thats certainly news to me.

    so you have a mom with a discerning palate, eh ;) Well the blondies look gorgeous, thats for sure :)

  19. Ooh I would love to make the Healthy Ho’s and mail them to my celiac friend in Boston, or to have him come up here (Toronto.) I am a sucker for cream-filled stuff, and so is he.

  20. I’m so disappointed – I was supposed to receive my copy to review three weeks ago!!! The perils of overseas shipping…I can’t wait to check it out myself.

  21. Sadly, I’ve never been to this bakery, but I’d love to try the scones! I’m always looking for new and exciting portable breakfasts. I’d also like to learn more about non-traditional flours.

  22. Some cookery magazine published her Raspberry Scone recipe a year or so ago. They are awesome! I used the leftover scones as shortcake for raspberry shortcakes. Sooo good! Even non-vegans and flour eaters loved them.

  23. Oh my goodness, I have not had macaroons in so long and I use to love them! Every one I come across now, even the ‘free from’ macaroons, contain egg and I miss them so much!

    The reviews I’ve heard about the ‘Babycakes’ Macaroons, just make me crave them even more. Therefore they would definitely be the first thing I’d make.

    I only recently came across coconut oil in my local health food shop – before then I’d only read of it in raw food recipes!

    Oh I so want a macaroon! =)

  24. What a fantastic giveaway! I’d love a cookbook devoted to “healthier, less-processed baked goods with classic flavors”. I’m a big fan of blondies, so I’d probably leap at that recipe first :).

  25. I am intrigued by the curdled frosting mess; i think i would tackle that! wouldn’t it be great to get it down?

  26. I’ve been dying to go to Babycakes!
    Your creations look pretty good- but no offence not as amazing as some of your other baked goods… I think the secret to fudgyness is in the liquid oil, but I’m not sure… Haha your mom prefered the few choc. chips and not even the blondie!

    PS congrats to your sister!!!! :-)

  27. Oh my! Everything looks so delicious. My boyfriends father and sister are celiac so I’d love to be able to make us something that we could all enjoy!

  28. Oops! commented for the cookbook on the wrong post. Sorry! Silly me. Once again…. The first thing I would make are cupcakes. I am hit hard in the month of June. Our Vegan Grandson’s first birthday, our Vegan daughters 30th birthday , and my omniman 56th birthday (who I am trying to swing to the vegan lifestyle. He is very close.

  29. having made a million crappy wheat-free chocolate chip cookies over the years, i am ridiculously excited about this book as a possible solution to this problem! i would immediately make chocolate chip cookies in the continued hope of finding the perfect recipe… yippie for vegan gluten free books! :)

  30. I think I would make the raspberry scones. My sister went gluten-free several months ago and hasn’t had any homemade baked goods since, so it would be nice to try making an old favorite!

  31. I am so excited about this cookbook because of my gluten and sugar-intolerant vegan friend. I am vegan too but I usually bake with ingredients that she can’t eat so I’m excited to use this cookbook to make yummy treats for both of us!

    Brownies are #1 on my list to make.

  32. its so simple but i think the first thing id make is the cupcakes. its also sad because i havent made any vegan cupcakes since ive turned vegan! maybe its because i want them to be good, or that im afraid ill devour them all? haha
    but anyways id love a copy :)

  33. Babycakes sounds like a delicious place :) I’d love to try making the Healthy Hostess cupcakes. Thanks for your review of the cookbook!

  34. Sometimes you have to spend a little to make something great and I’d be willing to try it. I have a sweet tooth and these cupcakes would hit the spot. And then they wouldn’t make me regret eating them because they don’t have the bad stuff in them.

  35. My daughter has a thing for gingerbread, I mean she’s 4 and the gingery the better so it would have to be that.

  36. I would like to try the cinnamon twist bread-I saw Erin make it on the food network. There are a number of celiac people at my work and it would be lovely to be able to share some yummy treats with them.

    But in generally, it sounds like there are more reliable recipes for delicious vegan treats-the gluten-free variations may require more practice on my part.

  37. As I am now in charge of the gluten free case where I work, I could totally use some new ideas. BTW our GF blondies totally rock even though they are from a mix.

  38. I’m going to have to go with what someone else said and say chocolate shortbread caramelized banana scones because those sound amazing. Love your photos as always!

  39. I’m always looking for a new carrot cake recipe, so I would make that. I just love new cookbooks!

  40. Oh, I would most definitely make the gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. One of the secretaries in our department is allergic to wheat, and she never gets to partake in the chocolate chip cookies that make their way to the main office. She would surely get a plate of these all for herself!

  41. As with any new cookbook, I naturally gravitate towards the sweets! And with a dessert cookbook I can’t go wrong!!! Though I’d probably bake the gluten-free cupcakes first or whatever I’m in the mood for when I’m ready to bake.

  42. I’m going to try Babycakes this weekend…I’m kind of excited about it, even though I’ve heard mixed reviews. This is the same reason I haven’t bought the book, although it is really pretty!

    I am SUPER sensitive to bean flours too, I think they taste disgusting. I’ve tried a couple gluten free mixes with different kinds of bean flours, and I always end up throwing out what I make.

    Thanks for the review Hannah! BTW, I was just in Barnes and Noble and saw your book and got really excited. They didn’t have it at any of the book stores near my parents’ house.

  43. The first recipe I would try to make is red velvet cupcakes because they are the first bakery item I bought at Babycakes on my trip to NYC.

  44. What an intriguing book! I have never had the chance to visit Babycakes, although next time I’m in NYC, I’m going to check it out. As weird as this may sound, I really want to try out the frosting recipe. I’m curious as to why it wouldn’t come together for you and whether there’s a typo. Aside from that, the blondie “tea cakes” look really good!

  45. Any and all cookies that are gluten-free and sugar-free or low-sugar. It’s hard to find that combination!

  46. Probably the strawberry shortcake- it’s almost strawberry season!
    Second would be the brownies, since I am still searching for the perfect vegan brownie.

  47. I am glad to hear you had issues as well. I was so excited to receive my copy of Babycakes but my vanilla cupcakes weren’t fantastic and my icing only just came together, after a night in the fridge. I am going to try them again another day as I don’t want to keep wasting all the flour, coconut oil and agave!

    Next up for me will be the spelt strawberry shortcakes.

  48. Thanks so much, Hannah! I think the lemon cupcakes, or brownies — I have collected so many brownie recipes and can’t wait to see how these turn out.

  49. I had to get this book for the gluten free treats. I haven’t made anything yet, but the raspberry scones are the first things I think I want to try.

  50. I would like to make any of the breakfast treats. I love sweets for breakfast, but with these recipes, it seems like it would be a healthier way to have sweets for breakfast.

  51. I can certainly understand the expenses involved–so many ingredients that I already use! I’d love to try the mini brownies. :)

  52. Definetely want to try those chocolate cupcakes, I’m always looking for healthier treat recipes!

  53. I want to try Chocolate Shortbread Scones with Caramelized Bananas! I hope I win.

  54. I would sooooo love to try making red velvet cupcakes. I’ve never been able to make a decent vegan version.
    I’ve heard that the book has ideas for non-artificial food dyes, too–I’d definitely try those!

  55. I would try the blondies or the banana bread first, I think and then maybe something chocolate and gluten free.

  56. i think that i would actually like to try the biscuit recipe above all. it figures that i’d pick the savory recipe among all the sweets, but i love me a good biscuit. i would also like to try some of the scone recipes.

  57. i went to babycakes during my dessert tour of nyc, and loved it! i’m so glad erin came out with the cookbook! the first thing i’d make from this book would probably be the red velvet cupcake, if the recipe is in the book. i had it at the bakery and it was great!

  58. As a new diabetic, this sounds like something I could really use. Giving up sweets has been hard!

  59. It would have to be the Blondies! I haven’t attempted anything like that yet. And boy do I do food restrictions!

  60. Hope you could use the thin frosting for something else. The cakelets all look delicious.
    I don’t know the recipe index but I’d make something that would be considered a difficult combo of vegan and gluten-free and see how that turns out.

  61. I’d probably try the GF blondies, my boyfriend has just gone GF as he realised he had an allergy so this book sounds perfect for me as my GF baking skills leave a lot to be desired at the moment!

  62. Meyer Lemon and Bing Cherry Cupcakes! I’d be all over that, and I’d love a copy of this book!

  63. Great timing with this post! I was just thinking about buying this book, because my interest in more healthy baking/gluten free/vegan has been piqued of late.

  64. I would try the red velvet cupcakes, because I’ve never actually made those before, and I’m curious to try!

  65. There are soooooo many things I want to make from this book! I think I’d try the red velvet cupcakes or the blondies first.

  66. Beautiful pictures as always! Hmmmm what to make first… I think I’d have to go with the chocolate cupcakes… I mean who can say no to a chocolate cupcake :) Although the amount of coconut oil you are talking about is a bit scary lol :)

  67. I’m always interested in gluten free baking, but never get around to it since I don’t have anyone close to me who needs it. The blondies look interesting!

  68. I would make the Ginger Peach muffins, since peaches are so perfectly in season!

    The mother-in-law of one of my best friends just found out she’s diabetic, and another friend’s wife has Celiac, so I would love some recipes so I can share baked goods with them!

  69. Honestly never heard of the Babycakes…although after reading your post would like to make a visit. I just had for the first time a red velvet cupcake a few weeks ago and love it. Thanks for sharing all the info. By the way, thank you for visiting my site.

  70. First I would make the lemon poppyseed loaf, then the cupcakes, then the cookies…. Yum!!

  71. Well, I am a true cookie addict so I suppose I would try cookie recipes first! Since my oven is broken, I am wishing for baked treats and seeing photos of baked treats doesn’t help! Thanks for having a giveaway Hannah – that’s so sweet of you!

  72. Hi Hannah! Thanks for posting such an honest review of this cookbook. I have mixed feelings about the things I’ve tried over the years at Babycakes, but have definitely had some delicious cupcakes there! I would love to have the book because I’m always experimenting with GF baking, since a dear dear friend of mine is GF. Recently, I’ve had a special fondness for lemon-flavored ANYTHING, so probably the first thing I would try making would be the lemon poppyseed tea cakes!

  73. I’d love to try some gluten free scones except she didn’t include them. So lacking that, I’d kill for a good gluten free blondie although I’d have to change out the flours because garbanzo bean flour is some of the nastiest stuff I’ve ever eaten.
    I don’t know if she mentions the frosting on her website but there’s a spot there for questions and answers about the book. I understand though that the frosting recipe in the book is not the one used at the bakery if that’s of any help at all.

  74. I had EXACTLY the same problem with the frosting, but I thought it was my substitution of hazelnut milk for soy. Not just me – yay!
    I made the carrot cupcakes, and they are fabulous.

  75. I have heard so much about this book, I have been looking forward to it for a while but I’m a little disappointed by the reviews! I don’t even know what specific recipes are in it, though the raspberry scones do sound interesting!

  76. Anything and everything with lemon in the recipe. I’m curious about the icing, too….

  77. Oh…my…goodness!! (Be still my beating heart!) Those chocolate cupcakes would be the first things I’d try, for sure…*drools*! They look simply divine.

  78. My nephew and I were looking at this cookbook the other day and he really wanted me to buy it, but we ended up deciding on something else. I love the use of all the gluten-free flours, as that is something I’m trying to incorporate more into my baking. Everyone should be able to enjoy baked goods! I am a huge cupcake lover, so I would make one of the cupcake recipes first. Probably the Carrot or Red Velvet as those are both faves of various friends and family.

  79. Thanks for reviewing some of the recipes from Babycakes new book. I just got it myself and haven’t made anything yet. It scared me when the frosting was labeled as “frosting/sauce”!! I’ve been to the bakery and the cupcakes are pretty tasty, but I’m worried about using the GF flour mix because I’ve used it before and it has a distinct taste. I may try to blend my own!!

  80. Definitely those raspberry scones! I adore scones and would love ot try a healthier version than traditional ones.

  81. My husband and I stopped in on our last trip through the city. The cupcakes were okay, my husband really enjoyed the carrot cake cupcake but I found the chocolate cupcake to be a little on the dry side. I would probably make the carrot cake cupcake first (followed by the blueberry muffins).

  82. I’ve started to lean my food choices towards vegetarian (then slowly maybe a vegan eventually?), yet I still can’t let go of sweets! I’m thinking that this cookbook and it’s cupcake recipe might help… So the cupcakes would be where I would dive first :)

  83. Oh, I think it would have to be the red velvet cupcakes. I grew up in Maine where velveeta was the only “cheese” we ate. I never had red velvet anything, because no one had heard of it. By the time I’d gotten out of the state, I was allergic to dairy and no one made non-dairy red velvet anything! When I was in NYC for a work trip last year, I made a special trip to Babycakes, and the red velvet cupcake was HEAVENLY! So I’d love to have another. I never get up there from Maryland.

  84. I heard a rumor or cookie sandwiches?! I’d like to say that. Although, it really depends on what I stumble upon as I flip through the pages. I always go in with a plan, but desserts really tend to make me go off course. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve intended to make something from, say, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and ended up making something a few pages prior to it! Mmmmm new dessert possibilities…. =) and maybe those Blondie “cupcakes….

  85. I am so intrigued by this bakery… even though I’ve never been. So it goes living 4500 km. away from the big apple. I send every friend who travels to NYC to eat a cupcake on my behalf. I’d love to have a bit of Babycakes here in the mountains. I think I’d try some cookies first…, or brownies, or muffins, or cupcakes…. :)

  86. because I’m a sucker for punishment, I think I would like to at least attempt the frosting. I have heard so many mixed reviews on it that I’m dying to experiment myself!

  87. I think I’d like to make the poppyseed cake. No matter what the season is, those happy, crunchy little seeds are always welcome at my home as well as the homes of my family. So I’d make it to bring and share with family. :)

  88. I have contemplated traveling to NY just to pay Babycakes a visit! I would love this cookbook and first try any of the cupcakes. Gluten free cupcakes would be a dream come true.

  89. Chocolate Cupcakes!

    I have been waiting to make them for so long now. I made the brownie bites (from the Martha Stewart show) about 2 months ago and they were very yummy.

  90. Thanks for the review and lovely photos. I will try first the Chocolate cupcakes, my husband loves them but has a gluten intolerance which means he cannot enjoy them as often as he would like.I would love to cook them for him.

  91. Mmmm….these look so cute and I’ve been to Babycakes so I’m sure they’re good. The first thing I would make would be the carrot cake cupcakes if the recipe is in there. I just love the subtle flavor and the creamy frosting. And of course I would make it gluten-free so my bro-in-law can eat them too!

  92. I think I’d make the Blondies, for sure. My kids would like them in their luchboxes & I’d enjoy them, too.
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  93. I would love to make the raspberry scones. They look scrumptious in the photo. My sister developed a dairy allergy and hasn’t had a scone in years.

  94. I’ve had the chance to make a couple things from the book, and haven’t really been pleased. I made the gingerbread, and it involved way more cooking than stated in the recipe, but overall, it was a very moist bread. Next, I tried the lemon poppy seed cake, and it was horrible! It turned into a dense gooey mess, and all of the poppy seeds sunk to the bottom. I’m kind of afraid to try to make anything else….

    At first I thought that I had turned into a horrible baker, but I’ve been reading reviews similar to mine. Apparently some of the recipes are not the same as the ones used in the bakery itself, for various reasons. If anyone has any success with other recipes in the book, I would love to know which ones!

  95. I would make any number of the breakfast items. It’s so hard to find breakfast foods that I actually like! If I had to pick only one? … probably the raspberry scones.

  96. Looks like a great book, and I loved your review of it! I would definitely start off with the apple pie in honor of my mama!

  97. Scones, scones, scones! I totally love scones and when they get out of oven crispy and tender inside, Good Lord! Delicious! And I loooove raspberries, I’ve been looking for a raspberry scones recipe for long but unfortunately all the recipes that I came across googling didn’t turn out very delicious… So, I think this book would help me a lot achieving the perfect and heavenly scones that I’m looking for.
    It’s my 1st time in US, in Seattle to be exact and the 1st time I heard about the babycakes was here, in one of your posts.
    May I ask you to tell them that we would love to have them here in Seattle? pleaaaseee? :)
    thank you so much for this giveaway.


  98. someone i know got her hands on a copy of the book and had almost the exact results with the things she tried: her gluten free cupcakes were beany and dense, and her frosting was curdly and refused to come together, weird. you’d think a recipe from such a highly anticipated cookbook would be fool proof

  99. I live in the UK but went to New York for my 40th birthday. We stocked up on cakes for the birthday breakfast and the bakery staff were lovely and even gave us candles! I have fond memories of the chocolate brownies so I think I would make those first.

  100. Oh, baby, BabyCakes!
    What would I mix up?
    What would I make?


    Back when I was small
    And could eat anything at all
    (Or thought so!)
    Before the days of xanthan gum,
    Brown rice flour, millet, sorghum,
    I’d stir eggs & softened butter
    Into bowls of fine white flour,
    Add chocolate chips & dark vanilla.
    Our mother warned, “Raw eggs will kill ya!”
    But sis & I still licked the spoon.
    Those cookies could have won the moon.

    It’s been three years since Doctor said,
    “No more gluten, no more bread,
    Or eggs, or milk, or cheese, or dairy.”
    Which made me truly sad, and wary.
    These days I couldn’t eat that batter
    If it were served by the Mad Hatter
    With pots of tea and a drenched Dormouse.
    (I’d get so sick, I’d be stuck in the house.)

    So if I were to win this book,
    I know I’d make the cookies first—
    The chocolate chip cookies, that is.
    I’d lick the spoon, I’d taunt the moon,
    I’d send you a batch, I’d sugar-crash,
    I’d invite my friends, I’d make amends
    For these relentless rhymes
    With chocolate chip (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free!) cookies, and tea, oh my!

    (Thank you for reading. I think I may have been channeling Dr. Seuss for a moment.)

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