BY CAROL BANKS WEBER
Like all great stories, this one starts with cake.
Five years ago, single mom Lauren Sophia Anderson went overboard planning her son Kaiden’s one-year birthday, when she’d forgotten something: The Cake. She bounced back with the most delicious cupcakes for the grown-ups, and “a really, healthy, plant-based smash cake for him,” because of dairy and gluten issues.
Everyone loved it. They were like, ‘Wow, Lauren, you’re really good at this!’
Today, Anderson’s Grain Artisan Bakery fetches top dollar at farmers markets (“Snohomish is our home market”), festivals, pop-ups, and weddings, “anywhere from two to four a weekend,” with a menu of desserts and breakfasts that tastes as good as it looks: artisan brownies, salted chocolate chunk cookies, savory seasonal galettes, dark cacao fudge cake — gluten-free. “About 85 percent of what we do is gluten-free, now. Some of that’s vegan, Paleo. We’ve also recently added a small Keto line.”
Most people don’t even know, or care. “We don’t tell them, unless they specifically ask.” When she’s running a market or festival herself, which isn’t all that often anymore, and someone insists on the gluten stuff,
I’ll tell them if they truly don’t love it, I’ll give their money back, and give them a free item that’s gluten. I’ve been taken up on it probably 15 times now in the last year, and I have not once had someone ask for their money back. Every single person, you can see their face change. And some of them are like, ‘Wow, this is really f***ing good.’
Her best-selling dark cacao fudge cake — decadent, moist, super-rich and chocolate-y, with just the right amount of silky-sweet — will make you forget all the rest.
“My dark chocolate cake recipe, which I now almost always do gluten-free, took me tweaking the recipe a lot. One day, I accidentally bought too much whole milk from Grace Harbor Farms. I swapped buttermilk for whole milk, so as not to waste it. I also enriched the chocolate flavor, with half-whole milk and half-strongly-brewed, local dark coffee. And, that was it.”
As a fierce farm-to-baker, Anderson goes to great lengths to source locally.
Not only can she tell you where every ingredient comes from, but she can probably tell you what the farmer had for breakfast before he pulled up the carrots for her galettes.
Launching her small business in 2015 has paid off through some tough times: “Imposter Syndrome is real,” losing a storefront (“everything I hoped and dreamed of”) last May — right before market/wedding season, fulfilling peak orders out of her small Bothell home on a temporary cottage food permit, 60-80+ hours every week for six months straight, alone.
It was awesome, because I almost doubled [the previous] summer’s sales out of my house, which is crazy to even think about… I didn’t have a choice, but to keep going.
Up ahead: perfecting croissant and cinnamon roll recipes, unveiling a gluten-free sourdough bread line, and moving into wholesale accounts. “We’re going to supply cafes, coffee shops, and we’re considering partnering with some of the local, organic-focused grocery stores.”
Anderson’s still hoping to find that dream storefront, preferably in southern Snohomish County. In the meantime, she and her staff work out of a production-only bakery kitchen all their own on Madison Street in Seattle. “No more shared space or limited baking time for Grain,” she explained. “Place a custom order and pick up at the bakery for any birthday, anniversary, work-related or special occasion that you want to celebrate!”
Despite the long hours and many heartbreaking setbacks, Anderson perseveres for her son, herself, and the world at large.
It’s all worth it to me, because I am [paying] my dues as a human on this planet to make the best decisions I can that benefit the environment and our future as a whole — not only for myself and my family, but for my customers.
I am also teaching my son hard work, dedication, perseverance, and so many other traits that I hope he one day encompasses himself. Not to mention I love what I do. I love that I am making pastry all day long, and I love seeing my customers’ faces light up. That is what keeps me going on the hard days. If I am hitting a low, I go run one of my markets, and it reignites my fire.”
Grain Artisan Bakery | email@example.com
Lauren Goes Local
Grain Artisan Bakery goes to extreme lengths to source as locally, sustainably, and seasonally as humanly possible for the top-selling decadent, delicious works of art coming out of Lauren Sophia Anderson’s kitchen. If it’s not local (75-80 percent), it’s organic (20-25 percent), and always pure, whole, and sustainable. Mindful sourcing’s so important to the self-taught, Bothell-based baker that she hired a social media specialist last Dec. to start promoting the local farms and businesses they get ingredients from. Here are a few of her farm-to-table purveyors:
- Grace Harbor Farms local, grass-fed dairy
- Twinbrook Creamery local dairy
- Pure Eire Dairy organic, grass-fed dairy
- Skylight Farms local, pasture-raised eggs
- Radicle Roots Farm local, sustainable produce
- Hayton Farms local, organic berries
- Spring Time Farm local, organic produce
- Nash’s local, organic produce
- Tonnemakers local, organic produce
- Lowlands Farm local, organic edible flowers
- Theo Chocolate locally-based, organic chocolate
- Frontier Flyers local, raw honey
- Manini’s local ancient grain, gluten-free flour
- Cairnspring Mills local, organic flours
- Fairhaven local, organic flours
- Bluebird Grain Farms local, organic flours
- Shepherd’s Grain local, sustainable flours
- Bob’s Red Mill organic alternative flours
- Kerrygold grass-fed butter
- Earth Balance soy-free butter alternative
- India Tree locally-based, sustainable specialty sugars, dye-free sprinkles, and food colorings
- Frontier Co-op organic spices, herbs, and staples
- Hummingbird Wholesale Oregon-based, organic dry goods
- Azure Standard Oregon-based, organic dry goods
- Native Forest organic, no-guar, coconut products
- Kite Hill alternative dairy products