craveCupcake Wars is a Food Network TV show where four bakers compete in a cupcake bake-off for $10,000. They are judged on taste and appearance. One of my children loves this show and together we’ve watched many episodes.

I was very happy to see that Crave Bake Shop, a gluten-free bakery in Portland, Oregon won the 100th episode. This just goes to show that living without gluten doesn’t mean sacrificing taste.

Crave is owned by Kyra Bussanich, who was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder when she was 20. Part of staying healthy meant switching to a gluten-free diet, avoiding all wheat and overly processed foods. Often Kyra would run to Whole Foods or her local market to look for gluten-free substitutes.

After being disappointed in the gluten-free products that were available on the market, Kyra thought she’d have to live without birthday cakes and scones and doughnuts. She graduated with honors from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program, which gave her a solid foundation of knowledge about classical French baking techniques which she was then able to apply toward baking gluten-free.

By craving, and by necessity, Kyra began experimenting with alternative flours and developed a handful of cake recipes that taste as good, if not better, than traditional wheat-filled cakes. Whenever she can, Kyra uses local, fresh ingredients: sweet cream butter, pure vanilla extract, and farmer’s market fruits.

At Crave you can find the cupcakes she made on Cupcake Wars: Peppermint Hot Chocolate, chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate peppermint ganache and topped with toasted marshmallow meringue; New York Cheesecake, vanilla cake with a graham cracker crust filled with raspberry jam and topped with cream cheese frosting and raspberry drizzle; and Pomegranate Ginger Lime, pomegranate ginger lime cake filled with lime curd mixed with fresh pomegranate seeds topped with pomegranate ginger Italian meringue buttercream and pomegranate drizzle.

Thanks, Kyra, for making a difference in the gluten-free community!