My introduction to Canyon Bakehouse started with a bad experience at my favorite sandwich shop – rather, the only sandwich shop I can visit, since they cater to gluten-free customers. I had a lousy sandwich, on teensy slices of bad, frozen gluten-free bread. The real insult came when I got to the register, and they charged me $1 extra for the privilege of ordering gluten-free bread. I questioned the charge, since I hadn’t been charged on previous visits. I then posted to twitter about my disappointment in my experience with the shop.
All this drama brought Gluten-Free Dee (@glutenfreedee) to my rescue, connecting me to the wonderful folks at Canyon Bakehouse. Dee requested that they send me a few samples to review, and WOW – they came through! Just look at the bounty the arrived at my door! I don’t think I’ve ever had this many baked goods in my house – before or after my gluten-free transition.
Cinnamon Raisin Bread is one of those things we all cherish from childhood, right?! Toasted and buttered, maybe with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon sugar on top – it’s a cozy start to any day. Cinnamon Bread with the swirls of cinnamon sugar and studded with raisins makes me think of summer weekends spent “up north.” For those of you not hip to the Michigan lingo, “Up North” is where you go on summer vacations – it might only be an hour or two from your home, but it’s the direction that’s important – North. Up North means quiet, lazy days, lake swimming and perhaps a few more sweet treats than you’d ordinarily have.
Every Saturday morning, Uncle Harry would go out and get fresh-baked cinnamon bread for breakfast. Yeasty and sweet, the bread was wonderful toasted with butter sinking into every crevice. I haven’t had cinnamon bread in 8 years! Canyon Ranch has changed all that. This is the REAL stuff – and gluten-free! Canyon’s cinnamon bread is the adult version of the white, doughy stuff of childhood. Packed with whole grains and lots of raisins, the bread is fragrant with cinnamon, and just enough sweetness to go well with a good cuppa tea. Unlike most store-bought gluten-free bread, this bread has lightness and all the nooks and crannies you want to soak up a little butter.
Saturday morning breakfast led me to the Cranberry Crunch Muffins. These are BIG muffins, with a hefty 380 cal per muffin, but boy are they tasty and worth every calorie. They are moist, have the crumble of a good muffin, and are chock-full of cranberries, pumpkin seeds and a combination of poppy and amaranth seeds provide a nice crunch. The four-pack of muffins disappeared in one day at our house – a ringing endorsement of a great product if ever there was one.
Next up were the sandwich breads – Mountain White and San Juan 7 Grain. I have a three-fold test before I’ll declare any gluten-free bread a winner in our kitchen. Is the bread good: straight out of the package, toasted with peanut butter (bread must withstand the spreading of peanut butter) and made into grilled cheese (bread must brown evenly, and be light enough to allow the cheese to melt). I am thrilled to say that both breads passed the test with flying colors on all counts! Just look at that perfect oozy grilled cheese, with bits of ham falling out at the edges – heaven. And the peanut butter toast – best I’ve had in years. Both breads toasted up nicely while remaining soft and chewy inside. And I will happily eat either bread straight out of the bag.
A word on Mountain White vs 7 Grain…I’m normally a whole-grain, hippie bread girl all the way. I want my food as natural/whole as I can get it (it’s even in the name of my blog!), so I initially viewed the “white” bread with skepticism. I generally avoid the fluffy, white carbs…but in looking at the ingredients, even the White bread is made with several whole grain flours, and the flavor is great – with much more personality than the Wonder Bread of yore.
We finished our sampling of the products with the Rosemary & Thyme Foccacia…this one was the least favorite for both Mark and I, but still a very good bread. It’s chewy and soft like foccacia should be, with a lovely sprinkling of herbs. The bread is much more delicate in crumb than the others, falling apart if not sliced carefully with a serrated bread knife. We sampled this alongside a bowl of Indian Spiced Red Lentil Soup. When toasted on a tray in the oven, it’s perfect for dunking.
All in all, I’m thrilled to be introduced to the Canyon line, and I hope that I’ll be able to find their products in Chicago soon…stay tuned! Thanks again to Canyon Bakehouse head honcho, Josh Skow, for sending me products to try!