Sift Gluten-Free Bakery in Nokomis, Minneapolis

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

We love gluten, just to let you know where we stand. But we felt that if we turned this review over to the gluten-free beat, such as it is, that we’d be giving Sift (4557 Bloomington Ave S, Minneapolis) short shrift.

We will however give short shrift to the controversy, such as it is, surrounding the steady rise (get it?) of gluten free. Yes, celiac disease is real, and it is miserable. Yes, there are charlatans who will tell you that everything can be cured by eliminating gluten from your diet. Enough said about that.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

On to the baked treats that we picked up just as the sun was rising this past Saturday morning. Sift is a delightful and welcoming space, with a display case filled with an astonishing variety of muffins, bars, brownies, cookies, doughnuts, cakes, scones, and little tiny quiches. The beaming, smiling face that greeted us turned out to be that of Molly Miller, owner of Sift. She was visibly thrilled to be there and was more than happy to share with us her journey from longtime hobbyist baker to semi-pro farmers market vendor to professional baker with her own brand-new shop.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Her enthusiasm is well warranted. Our favorite item was the Ham and Cheese Quiche Bite ($2.50). The crust was chewy and buttery, and perhaps a little corny. The egg filling was creamy and shot through with pockets of melted cheese and bits of smoky ham. Our only gripe was the silver-dollar size. We could have eaten an entire full-sized quiche. On the other hand, if it were bigger, we’d have missed out on the lovely crust in each bite. I guess they know what they’re doing: These things are seriously craveable.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

The Spiced Pear Coffee Cake ($3.50) was delightful. Airy, and rich with cinnamon and cardamom, it had a moist, fluffy crumb and a lovely aroma. For lack of wheat flour, it was missing nothing. We’ve had sweeter coffee cakes, but this one, with its spiced pear, had a sophisticated element that we’ll definitely return for.

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Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

When the days turn crisp and the nights downright cold, is there anything more comforting than a coffee cake? Whether you indulge in a slice with your morning coffee or serve it to cap off a cozy dinner with friends, this coffee cake’s pillowy texture and cinnamon-laced sweetness seem to soothe any worries you have. If baked goods could act as therapy (and for some, maybe they do), this cake would be a distinguished psychologist sitting in a bookcase-and-leather-chair office — classic, confident, and slightly crusty.

Don’t let the cake’s dispiriting moniker fool you — there’s nothing even slightly loser-ish about this cake. Maybe the name came about because it’s so easy to make that even culinary losers could successfully bake it. You mix up the ingredients in your mixer, plop the batter in a tube or Bundt pan, and bake. Assembling the cinnamon, sugar, walnut, and chocolate chip filling takes an extra two minutes and adds no degree of difficulty to the preparation. The result is an impressive cake that makes guests squeal with excitement while you turn down their compliments with self-deprecating charm: “It’s called Loser’s Coffee Cake — I guess I couldn’t lose!”

Loser’s Coffee Cake
Serves 14-16

½ c butter, softened
1 c sugar
2 eggs
16 oz sour cream
2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
Dash salt
1 tsp vanilla

⅓ c sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ c chopped walnuts
¾ c chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cream butter with sugar in an electric mixer.
  3. Add eggs and sour cream.
  4. Sift dry ingredients and then add to wet ingredients.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Combine ingredients for the filling in a small bowl.
  7. Spray a tube or Bundt pan with cooking spray and put in half the dough.
  8. Sprinkle half the filling on top of the dough.
  9. Add the rest of the dough to the pan and sprinkle with the remaining filling.
  10. Bake 50 minutes.

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