One of my favorite stops in during my cupcaking tour of Northern California this summer was Baked by the Bay, a 100% organic and locally sourced bakery. The owners were kind enough to have me (Stacie) and my guest taster (Michael) to their beautiful home in Tiburon, and let me tell you what a treat it was!
Here are owners Terry, Jeremy and Diane, on the deck in back of Diane's home. The view and the people were inspirational.
The first two things I noticed were the cupcake cookbooks (brought a tear to my eye!):
...and the wonderful dry erase board they work with:
Thanks for the shout-out, y'all do know how to make a gal feel welcome.
In my initial correspondence with Baked by the Bay, I was very interested in hearing about its mission, using 100% organic ingredients (which is not easy!) and sourcing local and seasonal produce and supplies. The company, still in its infancy (birthed in May of this year, I believe), is committed to protecting the Earth (a mission close to my heart).
Oh, and did I mention that the company is actively involved in many charitable causes? Almost too many to list: AIDS/LifeCycle, Adopt a Family of Marin, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and more.
The company buys only natural products, composts and recycles, and its packaging is 100% recycled compostable material. All the cleaning products are environmentally responsible, nontoxic, non-chlorine-based and carcinogen-free (w00t!). Even the trash bags are biodegradable and made from recycle materials. No paper towels or paper plates are used. (I am embarrassed to admit I am a total paper towel hog. Bounty plain whites, I love you!)
Some of the local (to Northern California) sources are: Rainbow Grocery in San Francisco (a cooperative vegetarian market); Straus Family Creamery (a hormone- and antibiotic-free dairy that practices natural pest control, and powers the farm from the cows' methane); Guisto's of San Francisco (organic flours and dried goods); Multiple Organics in San Rafael for chocolates and sugars; Bob’s Red Mill, a worker-owned organic company; and strawberries and other seasonal fruits from local farmers markets.
So, while I admire and respect them for their commitment, it really comes down to...how do the cupcakes taste?
Look at those cupcakes. Just look at 'em.
We had a nice li'l sit-down and devoured the cupcakes while we all chatted.
First up, Jeremy's fave, peanut butter buttercream on banana.
With banana chip topper!
The bakery's best seller, and with good reason. It's tough, in my opinion to get a good banana cupcake that doesn't taste like a muffin. Butter Lane in NYC can do it, and so too can Baked by the Bay.
Also drool-worthy, the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting:
The cake was spicy and carroty, but I think it could have benefited from some pineapple or maybe some nuts for texture. Terry confided that making organic cream cheese frosting was a challenge, and I can imagine it was. All-organic products have different textures, something most folks don't think about, so recipes always need tinkering. This was the favorite of my guest taster, Michael, who didn't agree with me about the need for an additional ingredient.
Here's the lemon-blueberry with lemon buttercream:
With blueberry perched on top!
I do love fruit-based desserts best, so it's not a surprise that I craved this cupcake for a day or two afterward. This was probably my personal favorite. So light and sweet, but not too sweet! And an excellent frosting to cupcake ratio.
I appreciated the way the frosting wasn't too light (or running off the cupcake), nor was it too dense and sugar-crust forming.
By this time, I was starting to feel quite stuffed, so I was glad Michael was there to assist:
He's sampling the vanilla cupcake filled with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate buttercream. I really enjoyed this cupcake (it's a tough cupcake to not like) but the surprise of it being filled was terrific. He's also got the lemon-lemon on deck, which was his second-favorite. I managed a bite before my stomach officially closed for the day. Refreshing and perfect for the summer day.
We took a much-needed break to let our bellies settle and to talk cupcakes (and gossip!).
Diane showed me around her beautiful home:
Mm, library! Books, cookbooks and cupcakes, I could live here happily (if they'd have me).
While Terry gossiped with Michael.
What gossip? Promise not to tell? Their neighbor is funnyman Robin Williams. Hee!
I took a shot of his home while peeking out the window:
It kinda made me feel like a stalker, but I've always loved him. Mork from Ork -- nanu-nanu!
Then Jeremy and I swapped info about his famous mashed potatoes cake recipe (!!) with cinnamon spice frosting.
(He's laughing, but not sharing the recipe.)
And then it was, sadly, time to move on, and they gifted us with a box of cupcake love to take on our journey north to Stinson Beach.
Considering we were staying in a yurt that night, I was extra-happy to have delicious cupcakes to keep my sweet tooth satiated. (I learned that night that yurt living is not for me.)
Baked by the Bay really is, baked. by. the. bay:
...although in a commercial kitchen in nearby Belvedere. Right now the cupcakes (and other teats like lavender shortbread, lemon bars, and chocolate-chip cookies) are available only by order (website, phone, fax), pickup (a few places in San Francisco like Mollie Stone's), or by delivery (preferred), but I heard plans for a truck, a cart, and a storefront being discussed. This is one bakery and group of people to keep your eyes on.
Cupcakes approximately $38/dozen (minis same price for 2 dozen), slightly more for filled versions
P.O. Box 713
Belvedere, CA 94920
Phone: 415.939.bake (2253)
You can see all the rest of the images here; all by Stacie Joy for CTTC.