Tag Archives: Louisville KY

Blue Dog Bakery, Louisville, KY

The more I heard about Blue Dog Bakery — from a waiter, a shopkeeper, a pastry chef, a far-away friend — the more curious I became about the home of Louisville’s best breads.

Gingerbread_Man_Logostory & photos by Bakery Boy

 

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Baguettes by the basketful at Blue Dog Bakery & Café in Louisville

I’d been in Louisville for only a couple of days, and everywhere I went I heard about Blue Dog Bakery & Cafe in the Crescent Hill neighborhood.

When I ate dinner at The Blind Pig, a European-comfort-food “gastropub” in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, and raved about my sandwich, the waiter said without hesitation that the crusty-outside, chewy inside roll holding together my Ivory Bacon Sandwich (boudin blanc sausage, bacon, muenster cheese, and aioli) is a “pug,” short for pugliese, a style of bread from Southern Italy.  He added,  it came from Blue Dog Bakery.

Blue Dog Bakery anchors the rebounding Crescent Hill neighborhood

The next morning, during my second bakery visit of the day gathering material for future Bakery Boy Blog articles, the pastry chef I was interviewing said that if I’m a bread man (and I absolutely am), then I shouldn’t miss Blue Dog Bakery in Crescent Hill.

Later I was at Rainbow Blossom Natural Food Market on Bardstown Road in Louisville’s Highlands area when an employee stocking shelves saw me inspecting the bread and volunteered that it was all good and all from Blue Dog Bakery.

Blue Dog’s levain gets its slight tang from a well-nurtured sourdough starter

Blue Dog’s levain gets its slight tang from a well-nurtured sourdough starter

Then she spoke, more to herself than to me, about needing to get back there soon for some poached free-range eggs, Serrano ham, spinach, and Parmesan on French sourdough levain, a brunch special she recited so perfectly it’s clearly a memorable favorite for her.

Intrigued by three recommendations from such different sources in such short order, a called my friend Wanda two states away in Alabama.  She is, as I am, a longtime (though now former) travel writer for Southern Living.  During the 20 good years of my writing life I spent at that magazine, Kentucky was nearly always Wanda’s “beat,” and she knows Louisville well.

With nine grains kneaded in and rolled on, this bread has got to be good for you

“Oh, yes, I remember that place,” she said, glad to reminisce about a favorite city.  “That’s the bakery facing the railroad tracks in a part of town that used to be really run down but has come back nicely.  Wood-fired oven, fresh local ingredients if they can get them, no preservatives, and I think the owners even raise their own hogs for the meat they serve.  Artisanal everything, especially the breads.  If you’re still doing your Bakery Boy Blog, you’re going to love Blue Dog Bakery.”

With now four recommendations in less than a day, I knew I was on to something.  So I headed to Crescent Hill (indeed come-back-story neighborhood strung along a rail line east of downtown), found Blue Dog Bakery, and was blown away by how good it is.

A classy sign that you’re in bread heaven

Tables outside and inside were filled with patrons visibly pleased to be there.  Everything was photogenic and, I soon learned, tasty too:  Crusty breads in wicker baskets, big cookies in neat rows, fruit tarts gleaming on chilled trays, muffins stacked on tiered platters, and on and on.

Raspberry chocolate ganache tarts at Blue Dog Bakery

Raspberry chocolate ganache tarts at Blue Dog Bakery

I ate an entire baguette immediately while taking it all in, then bought for later a plump round miche and a dark cranberry-walnut levain.  And a half-dozen flour-dusted white Italian “pug” rolls like the one I’d enjoyed at The Blind Pig the night before.  And a half-dozen densely multi-seeded “flute” rolls (see photo).

Even with all that, I nearly ran out before getting home the following day.  No, I didn’t eat all of it myself.  My two hungry teenagers, who were in town for concerts at the Forecastle music and art festival in Louisville’s Waterfront Park, ate their share during the drive home.  Yes, my car floor is perpetually crumb-covered!  In retrospect, I wish I’d also gotten a loaf each of Blue Dog’s pecan raisin, kalamata olive, and harvest nine-grain breads.  Printed on Blue Dog’s bread bags are handy instructions for freezing and defrosting any such oversupply.

From left: peanut butter, chocolate chip, and oatmeal molasses cookies

On the advice of customers who graciously let me squeeze in between them to photograph things, I ordered a chilled raspberry chocolate ganache tart and a warmed morning glory muffin for immediate consumptions, plus two each of the  peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal molasses cookies, also for on-the-road snacking.

Crusty outside/chewy inside “pug” rolls are small versions of Italian pugliese loaves

A table opened up, so I took a seat and ordered that poached free-range egg on levain item the Rainbow Blossom woman had mentioned.  It was a fine but difficult choice, considering the options included exotic sounding “octopus tartine with potato, chorizo, tapenade, and smoked paprika oil,” and “bacon, Tillamook cheddar, cheese curds, cider vinegar onions, and spicy mayo,” and “pastrami Reuben, gruyere, kraut, and thousand island,” among other temptations, each on a wide choice of breads.  Next time.

I see poppy, sesame, and fennel seeds on the “flute” rolls (there might be others too)

I am now officially a fan of Blue Dog Bakery.  My one regret is that I never met the owners, Bob Hancock (who does, indeed, pasture-raise Red Wattle hogs, hormone-free and antibiotics-free, as a sideline) and Kit Garrett.  That’s poor planning on my part for not scheduling an interview, even on short notice after hearing so much about the place.  Add in bad luck as well, for not running into either of them during three stops over the course a long weekend.  Next time.

For now, I’ll let my photos tell the rest of the story.  Enjoy the slideshow, and if you get to the Blue Dog Bakery on my recommendation, let me know what you tried.  Together, apparently with a lot of word-of-mouth help from others, we’ll spread the news.

Blue Dog Bakery is frequently teeming with satisfied customers

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A tasty “blue” island in a leafy green neighborhood

Blue Dog Bakery

2868 Frankfort Avenue

Louisville, KY 40206

502-899-9800

www.bluedogbakeryandcafe.com

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For more about Louisville: Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau  www.gotolouisville.com

For more about Kentucky: Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism www.kentuckytourism.com

 

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Allergy-friendly Annie May’s Sweet Café, Louisville, KY

Allergen-free treats dominate Annie May’s menu because Annie May is on a mission.

Gingerbread_Man_Logostory & photos by Bakery Boy

 

“I’m allergic to corn gluten and about 50 other things,” says Annie May McGill, the founder, namesake, head baker, allergen-free-ingredients missionary, and generally smiling owner of Annie May’s Sweet Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Annie May McGill develops allergen-free baked goods at Annie May's Sweet Cafe in Louisville.

Annie May McGill develops allergen-free baked goods at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe in Louisville.

You might think her multiple allergies got Annie May started in allergen-free baking, but the way she tells it, her motivation first grew from baking for someone else.

“I have a nephew who is allergic to nuts and eggs and wheat, three common ingredients in a lot of baked goods,” she says.  “To make him a birthday cake, I had to find things he could eat.”

So Annie May studied up on substitutes for various ingredients, eventually discovering useful things like brown rice flour, tapioca starch, rice milk, palm fruit oil that works like a soy-free shortening, and other gluten-free, allergen-free, and non-dairy items good for replacing traditional foodstuffs.  Through experimentation, she eventually converted a neighbor’s basic cake and icing recipes into allergen-free versions for her nephew’s birthday cake, no doubt earning favorite-aunt status as a welcomed side effect.

But she didn’t stop there.  Repeating that same basic process of converting recipes in order to avoid ingredients many people are allergic to, she added more and more goodies to her baking repertoire.  The hobby grew into a career track that blossomed when she opened Annie May’s Sweet Café, billed as “Louisville’s only dedicated gluten-free, nut-free, and soy-free bakery,” on Frankfort Avenue east of downtown Louisville.

Annie May's Window_Bakery Boy photo“I’m a totally self-taught baker,” Annie May says.  “I like figuring out ways to make treats people with allergies can enjoy.”  Her lineup now includes a wide variety of cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, bars, cheesecakes, banana bread, pizza crust, crescent rolls, hamburger and hot dog buns, blueberry muffins, and by the time you read this most likely a few more as well.

Building on her original success with her nephew’s birthday cake, Annie May’s features about a dozen different kinds of cakes and about twice that many kinds of icing, nearly all of them featuring allergen-free and vegan ingredients.  Consider her carrot cake:  It includes brown rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, carrots, carrot juice, palm fruit oil, eggs, cinnamon, baking soda, cream of tartar, xanthan gum, and sea salt.  Only the eggs present a potential allergy problem, so she also developed a second version, a vegan carrot cake, by substituting flax seed for eggs.

Other cakes, some with vegan versions and some made only seasonally, include pumpkin, red velvet, strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, mocha, lemon, and spiced beer cake.  For the spiced beer cake, the title ingredient is gluten-free beer that contains only sorghum, buckwheat, honey, water, and yeast.  Between layers and atop these cakes, she spreads her host of icings, each one built around butter cream (using palm fruit oil for shortening), cream cheese (with rice milk), or whipped agave nectar.

Among Annie May’s assortment of allergen-free cookies, which range from chocolate chips and snicker-doodles to pumpkin spice, lemon, and oatmeal, one version has risen to become this bakery’s signature item.  Annie May calls them Allergen Free Supercookies (see photo).

Allergen Free Supercookies are a signature treat at Annie May's Sweet Cafe.

Allergen Free Supercookies are a signature treat at Annie May’s Sweet Cafe.

An Allergen Free Supercookie involves dairy-free chocolate cream cheese filling smashed between two thick chocolate chip cookies that are vegan and allergen-free, with no eggs, no gluten, and no dairy, Annie May explains.  After a Supercookie is assembled, one end is dipped in a vegan chocolate coating for accent.

As a service to her allergy-prone customers, who are intensely interested in every detail about what’s in their food, Annie May posts ingredient lists online for all of her baked goods.  Here is a breakdown of what’s in the Supercookies:

  • Cookie: brown rice flour, tapioca starch, sorghum flour, palm fruit oil, brown sugar, chocolate chips (evaporated cane juice, chocolate liqueur, non-dairy cocoa butter), egg replacer (potato starch, tapioca flour, calcium lactate, calcium carbonate, citric acid, cellulose gum, modified cellulose), water, vanilla, salt, xanthan gum
  • Filling: powdered sugar, palm fruit oil, agave nectar, salt
  • Coating: chocolate chips (evaporated cane juice, chocolate liqueur, non-dairy cocoa butter), palm fruit oil, agave nectar, salt

Annie May's exterior_Bakery Boy photoAnnie May McGill has followed her baking muse from that early interest in making a birthday cake for her allergic nephew to making all kinds sweet treats for all kinds of people with all kinds of allergies.  Her constant quest to develop new allergen-free items even leads to creations such as spiced beer cupcakes, which she fills with a homemade caramel that includes a dose of beer from the nearby Apocalypse Brew Works, an enterprise that must be like-minded because it offers a gluten-free beer among its craft-brewed selection.

“It’s fun coming up with new things,” Annie May says.  “All of our desserts are made fresh, from scratch.  We never use wheat, gluten, peanuts, tree nuts, or soy in our recipes.  We also segregate other allergen ingredients and use different baking areas, different utensils, and different cooking devices to avoid cross-contamination in our vegan and allergen-free items.”

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Annie May sign_Bakery Boy photoAnnie May’s Sweet Café

3110 Frankfort Avenue

Louisville, KY 40206

502-384-2667

www.anniemayssweetcafe.com

store hours: Tue-Friday 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

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For more about Louisville: Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau  www.gotolouisville.com

For more about Kentucky: Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism www.kentuckytourism.com