Last weekend I finally had the chance to visit Deeks Bakery and Cafe in Canberra. I’ve been eating Deeks gluten and grain free bread for some time now, so it was very exciting to actually visit their cafe. Deeks bread is really something special. As coeliacs would know, gluten free bread tends to be very brittle and dry. You can’t fill your sandwich with salad on ordinary gluten free bread or it falls apart. There’s a lady at the Coeliac Society who says “you can’t wrap it around a sausage”.
Now I haven’t tried to wrap my Deeks bread around a sausage, but I am very pleased with it. I actually discovered Deeks because of its wrapping qualities. My mum always has her eyes out for gluten free goodies for me, so she was excited to have a new boss with similar dietary restrictions. At an international lunch my mum spotted her wrapping up felafel balls in her own gluten free bread. It was a Deeks wrap (these can also be used as pizza bases). Imagine a gluten free bread soft enough to roll around a felafel! With a recommendation like this we were keen to try it for ourselves.
Luckily at about this time my dad was sent to Canberra for work. Of course his other mission was to seek out Deeks and bring home some samples. We discovered that they have a great range of bread in yummy flavours like tomato and basil, and pumpkin. They also do fruit bread and a chocolate log, which features pieces of chocolate that melt when you toast it. Now that’s a decadent breakfast. The range isn’t limited to bread, I’ve tried their pasta both frozen and dried. I found the dried version much better, possibly because it survived the trip to Sydney better. The frozen pasta was very sticky when I boiled it, but I didn’t have that problem with the dried pasta. There are yummy cakes that are so fiddly you’d never bother to make them yourself. My favourite is a hazelnut slice which has layers of nutty meringue sandwiched with layers of chocolate and hazelnut cream. It’s divine. The pear and almond tart is also superb. The moist almond filled tart is topped with pieces of pear, stickily glazed and sweet.
Now of course the bread isn’t cheap, no gluten free bread ever is. My reasoning is that if you’re going to pay a premium price you should get a premium product. I’m willing to part with around $7 for a loaf of Deeks, and I’m not willing to part with $5 for the crumbly gluten free approximations of bread that you can buy in the supermarket. Similarly with the cakes. I’d never bother to make these myself, a friand is one thing and a layer cake is another. Leaving it to the professionals is hard when you have a gluten free diet and Deeks makes it easy again.
So what about the Cafe itself? The menu was mostly under ten dollars, making the meals seem inexpensive. I started with pancakes. They were served with cooked blueberries and vanilla cream and very prettily presented. They were light but a little chewy, with a nice flavour and some blueberries in the batter. I don’t think they tasted like ‘real’ pancakes, but my memory is getting dimmer.
After having dessert I decided a proper lunch needed a main course. I was really torn between pizza and quiche, but I decided on the quiche. It was a really nice quiche with no special-diet taste about it. It was a spinach quiche with a hint of cheese served with salad.
Deeks is definitely different from lots of gluten free baked goods, it has a good texture and a nice flavour. Rather than being based on rice and corn Deeks products use quinoa, a high protein seed from South America. The founders believe that since quinoa is not a grain it is better for all of us in terms of health and energy. I’m not sure about the doctrine, but I am sure about the bread.
Before I end this post I need to thank my very kind friend who patiently waited while I had a two course meal, read the menu from cover to cover, took photos, bought cakes and generally went wild. I really appreciate it.
Deeks is located in Pearce and Dickson in Canberra.
You can also get Deeks at a few places in Sydney now. I get mine at Quirks Grocer in Redfern. Quirks also produces its own gluten free products which are worth trying.
Ratings (out of 5 snorts)