Pastry chef Elisa Lyew, owner of the new Elisa’s Love Bites, a gluten-free bakery in New York City, is no stranger to the quarantine-baking sensation. In fact, so much so that she was determined to go through with the opening of a brand-new storefront, despite the pandemic.
After a successful run in her first location in Brooklyn, Lyew decided to pack up and head to her new Manhattan bakery, completely unaware of what was to come. “Opening during the coronavirus pandemic was not part of the plan, that’s for sure!,” she says. “But this had been my plan for a long time, and I would not have let anything, not even this pandemic, get in the way. So far we’ve been very well received and we’re having a great time in our new location!”
What made the switch so easy for Lyew was her loyal cult following. She believes there is more of a connection between healthy food and good tastes than most people realize. “People sometimes mistakenly think that any food that is nutritious will taste bad, and that’s just not true,” she says. “I find that the flours I use in my recipes, particularly almond and coconut flour, are super tasty, in addition to enhancing the nutritional value of my desserts.”
Although baking can be seen as a very precise and measured endeavor, much of it comes from your own personal creativity, which is what has made it so popular during this time. First, sourdough bread took the world by storm. That was later overshadowed by focaccia. When asked about baking trends moving forward, Lyew had a few theories about what might be the next big front-runner on the scene, “Sourdough takes time and patience,” she says, “and the novelty has worn off for those who were not already sourdough bakers. I think people are now looking for something that will be ready right away and does not require daily feedings and long rise times. Breads, muffins, cakes and cookies are all things I’m seeing on my Instagram feed!”
Final advice? Elisa lists her top five tips for any home baker:
1. Have fun! If a recipe seems boring or like too much work for you, it’s not for you.
2. Read the entire recipe before starting and make sure you understand all the steps.
3. For novice bakers who are unsure about instructions or techniques, search for video tutorials online.
4. Substitutions are fine! If you don’t have a specific ingredient on hand, use what you have; the results will still be delicious. Don’t be afraid to change things up and make the recipe your own.
5. When baking, set your timer a few minutes short of the required baking time, and check for doneness. Ovens vary, so it’s always a good idea to take a look and avoid overbaking!
Roll up your sleeves and pop on your apron because there’s never been a better time to try your hand at this classic craft.
from Elisa Lyew, Elisa’s Love Bites
¾ cup of rice flour
1/3 cup almond flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup coconut oil, lightly warmed to liquify
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup raisins
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease muffin tins or line with paper baking cups. Combine flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt using a whisk. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix oil, sugar, and vanilla extract until fully combined, using a mixer or a whisk. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Add carrots, nuts, and raisins, and fold into the mixture using a spatula. Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely and enjoy!