May 15, 2012

The Last Crumb, a Bakery with Products that are “Flavor Full,” but Gluten-Free

By Evan Sandsmark -  

The average bakery isn’t known for its gluten-free offerings. In fact, most bakeries are decidedly not gluten-free friendly, not out malice toward their gluten-intolerant brethren, but simply because standard flour (i.e., flour that contains wheat) is used in so many of the products that bakeries produce and sell. So, we are always delighted to learn of bakeries that are entirely gluten-free. They fill a key niche and play a welcomed role in this increasingly gluten sensitive world. One such bakery is The Last Crumb, which isn’t located in Boulder, but rather Littleton, although they have a connection with Boulder in that Larkburger uses The Last Crumb’s gluten-free hamburger buns.

It was in connection to Larkburger that The Last Crumb first came up. As explained in a previous post about National Celiac Awareness Month, this reviewer happens to be in Europe at the moment, and will be till the end of the month. However, the owner and editor of this site is still on the ground in Boulder, sending laconic email messages dictated into her phone to Munich, Germany, where they are received, researched, and then spun into golden prose for Gluten Free in Boulder. The editor most recently sent a message about how Larkburger has the best (her emphasis) gluten-free hamburger bun she has ever tried, and that we must write an article about the source of the gluten-free buns that Larkburger uses. (For the record, the editor of the site is a staunch vegetarian, so she would like to point out that she was having a portobello sandwich at Larkburger.) Indeed we must!

Notes related to internal operations aside, let’s explore The Last Crumb a little bit. First, since The Last Crumb makes exclusively gluten-free goods, they are an entirely gluten-free operation, which is to say that the risk for cross-contamination is basically nonexistent. The Last Crumb is, in their own words, “fanatical when it comes to eliminating any chance of cross-contamination or questionable ingredients.” Fanaticism is generally a characteristic to be avoided or at least suppressed, but not in this instance. The Last Crumb offers products that even the most gluten intolerant can enjoy without fear of ingesting something harmful for their body. This is actually quite rare, as most of the places that offer gluten-free products also offer goods that contain gluten. When establishments offer both types of products, the chance that some form of cross-contamination will occur increases significantly, and while this isn’t a huge problem for those who have a less severe gluten sensitivity (i.e., those who should avoid gluten, but can handle trace amounts), it is for those who cannot consume gluten at all.

Gluten-free hamburger buns are by no means the only product that The Last Crumb bakes and sells. Indeed, they have nearly 20 products that fall into three categories: dry mixes, ready-do-bake, and ready-to-eat. If you pick one of the dry mixes, a lot of the cooking is in your hands (obviously). This is a good thing, however, if you want to add a personal touch to whatever you are cooking. For example, there is a 3-in-1 Muffin Mix, and this mixture allows you to make the muffins the way you want to make them (within certain parameters – the instructions that come with the mix have instructions for banana, apple spice, and pumpkin muffins). There is also an all-purpose flour mix (called “Cheatin’ Wheat Flour Mix” – ha) which can be used as a replacement for traditional flour in the recipes you come across. There is also a dry mix for pie crust and pancakes, as well as two chocolate cake mixes, one of which is vegan (the “Wacky Chocolate Cake Mix”). When using many of these mixes, you can of course improvise, adding chocolate chips to the pancakes or nuts to the muffins, for example.

If you are interested in a less ambitious cooking project, you could also buy one of the bakery’s ready-to-bake products. There are seven available, five of which are cookies: chocolate chip, gingersnappies (“a very grown-up version of a childhood favorite,” a description that is compromised by their abusively cute name), peanut butter, snickerdoodles, and chocolate decadence. We would like to pause briefly on the chocolate decadence cookies because these sound almost too good to be true. A mixture of chocolate, butter, pecans, white and dark chocolate chips, and espresso, they are “everything a chocolate lover’s cookie should be.” It certainly seems that way to us. The other ready-to-bake products, for the sake of completeness, are a frozen pie shell and a pizza crust.

If you want to entirely avoid cooking, you could just get one of the five ready-to-eat products that The Last Crumb offers. First, there are sweet baked goods like cupcakes, which come in boxes of a dozen and can be had in three flavors (chocolate, red velvet, and chocolate vanilla), and sour cream coffee cakes, which are available as nine-inch round cakes. (Presumably, the nine inches refers to the cake’s diameter, not circumference.) Zucchini Bread and Kitchen Sink Muffins (made with a blend of carrots, apples, nuts, dried fruit, and coconut) are also available, as are the acclaimed hamburger buns that Larkburger uses.

All of this sounds great, so how do you get these products? There are two options: pick-up and delivery. (You can’t just stop into the bakery unannounced because The Last Crumb operates out of building that is only a kitchen, meaning it has no storefront.) For a local delivery, the bakery charges a $5.00 fee, but, expectedly, this doesn’t include Boulder. If you’re curious to see how much a delivery would cost to your house or business, you can go online, pick out your order, and then enter your address. A function on the website automatically calculates the shipping fee.

However, the fee calculated is based on the dollar amount of your order, and this can often be misleading. According to Kathy of The Last Crumb, the bakery uses flat-rate USPS boxes with an insulated liner for shipping, and often a few products can be fit into one of these boxes. So, while it is technically true that a single four-pack of hamburger buns to an address in the middle of Boulder would have a delivery fee of $11.00 – nearly twice the amount of the buns themselves – you could avoid this high fee (conceived in terms of a percentage) if you order multiple packs of buns (up to three fit in a box), or if you order a pack of buns in conjunction with another product that can be added to the box. (You might also consider ordering with a group of friends – several products could fit in a few boxes, and then the delivery fee could be split.) The bakery informs costumers of their shipping method when they order, and in any case the Last Crumb always refunds extra shipping costs if they can be avoided by reducing the number of boxes used. If you want to avoid any sort of shipping fee, though, you can simply schedule a pick-up on your next trip to Denver.

If you try any of the many gluten-free products available at The Last Crumb, let us know how you like them in a comment below.

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