Vegetarian Desserts Bakery
827 N. Howard St., first floor; 410-383-7770. Hours by appointment. Place orders at veggiedesserts.com.
What price are you willing to pay for "purity?" That is the question I mulled over as I sampled a $40 chocolate cake and $25 a dozen oatmeal cookies made with no animal products.
They came from Vegetarian Desserts Bakery, a one-year-old enterprise run by Charmane Baker.
When I asked Baker about the price of the cake - $40 seemed like a lot - she replied that the cake is large, 9 inches in diameter and 3 inches high, and serves 20 to 30. She added that her products use no eggs, milk, honey or preservatives. While other area bakeries offer some vegan items, Baker described her operation as the city's only totally vegan bakery.
Trained as a baker at Baltimore International College, she has a day job in a downtown office and makes the desserts in an immaculate first-floor storefront on Howard Street. Ordering and payment is completed online, and then customers swing by the storefront to pick up the goods at an agreed-upon time. Delivery is available for an additional $10.
The chocolate cake was large and was covered with cocoa frosting. The ingredients were listed on the cake box: cocoa, flour, natural sugar, vinegar, baking soda, salt, vegetable oil, lemon juice, water and vanilla extract.
I carried the cake into the office, took a piece for myself and encouraged my colleagues to dig in and offer their opinions. Everyone liked the moisture and texture of the cake. However, it had slight chocolate flavor and most tasters were put off by the grainy frosting. As a confirmed butter lover, I had trouble with the frosting, made, I was told, with ingredients that include cocoa and lemon juice. Most tasters balked at the $40 price tag, but one fan said she would pay that price if the cake were the centerpiece of a party.
The oatmeal cookies were made with flour, soy margarine, natural sugar, brown sugar, egg replacer, soy milk, Xanthan gum, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, rolled oats and raisins. They were widely praised, although some tasters, like me, found them a bit dry. They were the best bite, but at a little over $2 a cookie, no bargain.