By CHERIE GOUGH | Uptown News
Owner and baker Jaime Schwartz of Starry Lane Bakery in Hillcrest is doing something remarkable. She’s baking up addictive cookies, cupcakes and indulgent pastries with-out using eggs, butter or all-purpose flour. Not only is Schwartz providing one of just a few dedicated allergen-free bakeries in the United States, her desserts’ taste and tex-ture match their gluten-filled counterparts, and people are starting to notice. In August, Starry Lane Bakery was named “America’s Favorite Sweet Shop” by Allergy Eats, the top restaurant review site for 32 million people with food allergies in America.
The award is a true reflection of the bakery’s dedication to quality and customer experi-ence, not the product of a social media campaign. Schwartz reports, “In August this year, Allergy Eats site rated restaurants based on their ability to accommodate various food allergies and user reviews. Normally when we are nominated for an award or ranking, we go out of our way to communicate with our guests and let them know about the contest. In this case we were taken completely by surprise, and didn’t even have a chance to tell anyone until the winners were announced.”
Schwartz told Uptown News she wants people to think of her shop as a dessert haven for everyone. “At Starry Lane, we want our food to help bridge the gap that prevents people living with food allergies from that very basic human act of sharing a meal with friends and family. Our baked goods aren’t good for allergy-free, they’re just good,” she stated.
With her dedicated team, Schwartz develops and tests each recipe determining the cause and effect of each ingredient and their combinations. The bakery’s creative wheels are always at work. Schwartz reports that it may take up to two years to get a recipe just right. This diligence and dedication to excellence is what makes Schwartz’s baked goods some of the best in San Diego. Period.
The newest superstar on Starry Lane’s menu is the pumpkin cream cake, a sweet, light pumpkin spice cake filled with creamy cinnamon frosting. Schwartz reports the cakes are so popular that she’s had to double the batches and still they’ve been selling out each day before noon. At holiday time, Starry Lane is the perfect place to pick up favor-ites you don’t have time to master at home. Pride and care is baked into each holiday pie, dinner roll, and gingerbread cookie and every holiday brings specialty items that celebrate the season.
The dessert case is loaded with fudge brownies, oatmeal cookies just like grandma makes, muffins, tortes and petite bundt cakes. Cupcakes stand out as rockstars of the case swirled with light, fluffy buttercream and indulgent flavors like banana split and cookies and cream. Starry Lane offers eight varieties daily and more as special orders.
Don’t overlook understated menu items. Blondies are a staff favorite. The sweet little kick of maple and satisfying chew offers a perfect pick-me-up treat. Pretzel rolls on the bread rack are to die for, just as good as any traditionally made with a slight hint of salt and sourdough.
A feel-good, inclusive space
Beyond the bright blue-and-white-striped awning adorning the entrance, warm blue walls and proclamations like “Dessert makes everything better” make Starry Lane a co-zy, inviting space. Staff members are friendly, welcoming and knowledgeably answer questions for patrons.
Schwartz’s motto is, “Food brings us together, no matter our differences. When we share a meal together, we connect. It’s an integral part of what makes us human. Our goal is to create and maintain a safe space so that everyone (those with food allergies, and those without), can come together to eat, share, and communicate, without fear or worry.”
How does she do it? Jaime’s story
Schwartz has a background in science. She studied multiple sciences as an under-grad at Rutgers University. After realizing a life in a lab was not for her, she switched gears to pursue her passion in culinary arts. After earning a terrific position at a top lo-cal hotel, Jaime’s life changed one fateful day when working with marzipan. She had an anaphylactic reaction and was diagnosed with adult onset food allergies, highly al-lergic to almonds and cashews.
The concept for Starry Lane was born after months of fighting through the new health crisis. Schwartz realized how many people just want food that tastes delicious and real but are allergic to its ingredients (1 in 10 Americans). Her mindset took the challenge and saw it through a lens of passion.
Using her science background, Schwartz is able to deconstruct each recipe, determin-ing the cause and effect of ingredients and their combinations. She uses her under-standing of how molecules interact with each other during the baking process, to de-velop recipes that taste, feel, and look as much like the genuine article as possible.
Starry Lane Bakery is open Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. The bakery case is brimming with delightful choices daily. Special orders can be accommodated with one week’s notice. Check the website for full details.
— Cherie Gough is an award-winning local writer uncovering San Diego’s best gluten-free gems.