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.
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.
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.
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.
The Sunbutter and Jelly Bar ($3.50) was more divisive. It was dense and somewhat oily, but with sweet browned edges. One taster commented that “these taste like they should be fluffier.” Another was surprised to learn that they were gluten-free. Compared to peanut butter, the concentrated taste of sunflower seed butter was eerily meatlike. The ample raspberry jam from Serious Jam was perfectly balanced between sweet and tart.
Similarly divisive was the Double Chocolate Donut ($3). The chocolate glaze was perfectly smooth, and with the confetti sprinkles, quite beautiful to look at. The doughnut itself was dense like a brownie, and less like the bubbly crumb of a flour doughnut, and it had a coconut flavor that for one taster dominated the chocolate.
The trick of cooking for those with dietary restrictions is to avoid imitation. Sift Gluten Free dodges this pitfall handily. We didn’t miss our beloved gluten, but we did miss butter to some extent. Each item is labeled with a card listing its restrictive specifications (dairy free, egg free, soy free). The doughnut and the sunflower-butter bar were both dairy free. This knowledge might inform our selections on future visits, though we would have missed the coffee cake, which we loved. Yes, we glutenous gluttons will be back, armed with the knowledge that we love butter far more than gluten and need at least three quiche bites to satisfy the craving.
Sift Gluten Free
Gluten free bakery in Nokomis, Minneapolis
4557 Bloomington Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
BAKER / OWNER: Molly Miller
Tue-Fri 6:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sat 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Sun 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
VEGAN / VEGETARIAN: Yes / Yes