Sandy, gritty, rice flour cakes do not a happy birthday make. But neither does the upset tummy that would accompany a flour-filled torte for many a small gluten sensitive celebrant. Luckily, we’ve come a long way in the flour-free world and Los Angeles has amazing cakes and other treats that will leave everyone at the party clamoring for more.
If you think a French cloud cake sounds too elegant and refined for your little one’s birthday party, clearly you haven’t met this adorable and utterly delicious bear! The cutie pie (cutie cake?) is made entirely of vanilla meringue, light chocolate whipped cream and three kinds of shaved chocolate. A perfect option for those who can’t have flour, anyone who likes a lighter cake option, and parents who are in the mood for something elegant and tasty, this cake pleases everyone at the party. If you’re serving a huge crowd, think about getting the cake for the kids, and then several of the smaller cakes in sophisticated flavors (like coffee, passion fruit, Nutella or caramel) for grownups to share.
There are two locations: one in West Hollywood and the new shop in Beverly Hills.
photo: Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC via facebook
Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC (in LA)
Formerly called Babycakes, Erin McKenna’s set the gold standard for GF treats in NY and then opened a second operation out west, landing on our own Larchmont Ave. If you’re looking for a cake to delight your chocolate loving tot, that will also stun non-GF friends, look no further than the Brownie Cake. While remaining gluten-free, vegan, soy-free and Kosher, it’s also moist, decadent and delicious. If you’ve got a little one who doesn’t love chocolate, the cakes also come in vanilla and carrot cake. This is the safest cake (or cupcake or brownie bite, which are also amazing options) to bring into a classroom that’s filled with allergies…
236 N Larchmont Blvd.
photo: Jamie Cakes via facebook
Far too often, gluten-free (or any allergen compliant dessert) means a compromise in taste. But on the rare occasion that you find something tasty, it can come in a one size fits all looking cake. Which doesn’t cut it with the little celebrant who has their heart set on a crazy and amazing life size and edible Minion. Or Thomas the Tank. Or Minecraft cubist cake. Or Nemo! Basically, if you can dream it up, you can have it from Jamie Cakes. There are tons of flavors of cake and filling that are available dairy, soy and gluten free. And they are so good that no one will ever suspect it’s gluten free. In fact, they might not believe you when you tell them.
1625 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Duff’s Cake Mix
This is for your little one who is already a chef, DIY master or just has very, very firm ideas about what their birthday cake should look like. But while you can Betty Crocker it up with the best of them, a tasty GF home made creation is beyond your baking skills (because it doesn’t exist!). So take your tot for a trip to Duff’s Cakemix, where you can order up 1 or many (each cake serves 6-10, so if you’re serving a large group you might need to do a couple of cakes). You get the cake, filling, frosting, fondant, all decorating tools and candy goodies. Yes, you have to pay $12 per person to decorate, but then you’re also getting an amazing experience alongside the cake. Gluten free options are limited to chocolate with chocolate filling, but it’s a darn tasty cake, and you’ll be sure the end result is exactly what your little one wanted. (You can also choose chocolate cupcakes, instead of cake. Or both!) You can even turn the cake making into the party experience, and make a reservation for up to 12 guests, who can each decorate their own cupcake or work in groups on a couple of cakes.
8302 Melrose Ave.
photo: Milk via facebook
The lines around the corner and down the block should tell you something; namely that Milk treats are worth waiting for. Sure, the scoops of ice cream are good, the chocolate cookies are phenomenal, and the milkshakes are swoonworthy. But those lines are 100% about the ice cream sandwich. Made with fabulous flavors of house made ice cream and sandwiched between giant (flat) macaroons, these ice cream sandwiches have legions of fans. But honestly, the single servings are a little large to serve one per petite party goer. That’s too much melting sugar for one little body. Luckily, they come in another size: even bigger. Their Giant Ice Cream Sandwich can be ordered in any flavor you like (Grasshopper, Banana Dulce de Leche, Salted Caramel, Rocky Road, Watermelon and Thai Iced Tea are all amazing), and when sliced into wedges, the 10” treat serves as many as an ice cream cake. Bonus points for fun and different!
Note that while the macaroon bases are all gluten free, not all ice creams or toppings are (Cookies & Cream and Red Velvet both contain products made with flour). Check when placing your order that the ice cream you want fits your dietary restrictions.
There are two locations: Mid-City and in Silverlake. Check the website for hours and directions.
photo: Steven V. via yelp
Here’s another different idea. One of our favorite treats in town is the Fo-nut: the baked not fried piece of pastry wizardry that comes in 10 gluten free flavors (half of which are also vegan). And while they’re an outstanding breakfast sweet, you can also stack them and make a gorgeous towering tree of a birthday treat. You’ve seen donut or croquembouche wedding cakes, now you can bring this idea to your tot’s birthday party. The beauty is that it still looks like one fabulous centerpiece, just like a birthday cake, but each picky tot can choose their own perfect flavor (from Peanut Butter Chocolate, Sprinkles, Lemon, Pumpkin, Vanilla Latte and more). Even more fun? Order the minis, and kids (and parents) can taste multiple kinds…
Please note that Fo-nuts is not a GF certified bake shop, but they do take the utmost care to prevent cross contamination.
8104 W. 3rd St.
photo: Rising Hearts Bakery via facebook
If you have any concerns about cross contamination, this is your bakery. The whole place is 100% gluten free and vegan, and many of their goodies are also Kosher. It’s also the place to stock up if you want to make some other treats that kids love for your party that also fit a GF lifestyle: since you can buy gluten free breads, hamburger buns, bagels and pizza crusts, you can make PBJs, burgers, bagel bites and pizzas that everyone at the party can enjoy. But what about the cake? Super tasty, and plenty of flavor options! All cake bases (including Red Velvet), fillings and frostings are safe picks, and you can purchase any of their cupcakes to try them out before picking: they use the same batter as their cakes. Cakes might not be as cute and custom decorated (they also don’t use artificial colors or fondants), but that’s a small price to pay for peace of mind.
10836 W Washington Blvd.
photo: Heymama M. via yelp
Honey & Butter Macaroons
These might not be for the party you’re throwing for the whole first grade. First of all, the bakery is in Costa Mesa. Second, they don’t take pre-orders of the custom character macaroons, so how many you will be able to purchase will depend on how early you can come get in line; they sell out completely every day. So why on earth would we recommend them? Because they are, without a doubt, the cutest little wheat free treats we have ever seen. So come get in line and scoop up as many as you can for the family celebration or couple of kids who are sleeping over. They will entrance everyone who sees them. Check out their instagram account to see the cuteness that has us willing to drive to OC on a busy birthday…
2930 Bristol St. (in the vintage airstream)
What’s your go-to spot for allergen free treats? We’d love to know!