Historic Virginia town near Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park Boasts Dedicated Gluten Free Bakery
Nestled in a tiny town at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Rappahannock County, Virginia -- and not far from the popular Shenandoah National Park and scenic Skyline Drive -- sits a dedicated gluten free bakery called Triple Oak Bakery. If you're not paying attention as you drive along, you might miss this small cottage on the side of the road. But don't be fooled by its size. Plenty of delectable gluten free treats are made here, with lots of love and care, by owner Brooke Parkhurst.
Her assortment of gluten free goodies is amazing -- custom made cakes, brownies (including cream cheese brownies) rugelach, cookies, cupcakes, scones, pies, coffee cake, bagels, babka, biscuits -- even quiche, chicken pot pie, samosas, and spanakopita. Having a party? Check out her sweet and savory party trays, too. Some items like scones, bagels, and oakcakes are now available for shipping.
If you live in the DC Metro area, a visit to Triple Oak is a great excuse to take a drive out to the peaceful countryside and perhaps get the blood flowing while hiking one of the many, many trails in the area. Of course, this is more enjoyable during the spring, summer, and fall...but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy Brooke's wonderful treats even in the winter.
You can find gluten free baked goods from Triple Oak Bakery at local businesses as well as suburbs of DC, including Rockville, Bethesda, and Falls Church. Deliveries are made on the first and third Friday of each month. Special orders are available for pick up at the Falls Church location only. So just plan ahead, and you can order any of Brooke's fabulous creations for pick-up.
If you want to place a special order at another time, do what I did and drive out to Sperryville. Just be sure to look at the specific directions on her website, as Google Maps are the only directions that are accurate, if you're using a navigation system. It's only about an hour from the DC area (or a bit more, depending on where you live). A friend and I recently made a day of it and accompanied our sons and their boy scout troop on a recent hike up Old Rag (highly recommended for the adventurous among you...it's a 8+ mile hike, with much of the ascent through, over, and under large boulders called a "rock scramble").
Knowing we were stopping at Triple Oak on our way home was great motivation for our hike...I could just envision the treats that awaited us for pick-up! It was right before Thanksgiving, and I'd ordered something really special...a chocolate roll (gluten free chocolate cake rolled with cream in the middle). They offered a gluten free version of a classic pumpkin roll for Thanksgiving, too, but I knew our son would love the chocolate. I'd also ordered gluten free scones -- both cinnamon and pumpkin (now how often can you find those anywhere?!).
I was secretly hoping they'd have some other little treats my friend and I could munch on on the way home, because we had definitely worked up an appetite and hadn't eaten since lunch. Just before arriving at Triple Oak Bakery on Lee Highway in Sperryville, we stumbled upon Central Coffee Roasters, a family owned and operated coffee roaster, just as they were about to close. Lucky for us, the son of the owner let us in and we helped ourselves to a sampling of their many coffees, roasted right on the premises. Now we were really ready for some baked treats!
Fortunately, Brooke did not disappoint. She and another baker were hard at work baking pies and other Thanksgiving orders, and she happened to have some other fresh-baked items available for sale. My friend and I both opted for some gluten free lemon bars, and I also purchased some gluten free baklava. I am a huge baklava fan, and although I knew this wasn't something my son would appreciate (or even try!), I had to get some for myself. Brooke also sent us along with a bag of "oakcakes," which are like slightly sweet flatbread crisp crackers.
We loaded up the huge box with the chocolate roll into the car, along with our other purchases. Everything looked fantastic. We decided to save our sweet treats for later but happily munched on the oakcake crisps all the way home. They were amazing.
Later, after eating the remnants of a wonderful dinner my husband had made that night, I sampled both the lemon bars and the baklava. Wow! Although the lemon bars were good, it was the baklava that stole the show. Just imagine the best baklava you've had...and now imagine it's gluten free! It took all the willpower I had left at the end of this exhausting day not to eat every piece!
Now keep in mind, it was 5 days before Thanksgiving, so I had asked Brooke what to do with the chocolate roll. I wanted to serve it perhaps the day before Thanksgiving, when we would also be having a big family dinner. I thought this dessert would be perfect before the next day's traditional desserts like pumpkin pie and apple pie. But would it stay fresh? She thought it would if I wrapped it and put it in the refrigerator, which is exactly what my husband and I did. We stuck toothpicks in it and then wrapped it with plastic wrap, doing our best to prevent the wrap from sticking to the decorative icing on top. We then closed up the box and kept it in the 'fridge until Wednesday mid-day. We served it (at room temperature) that night, and it was amazing. Still incredibly fresh -- and oh so delicious.
I'm looking forward to placing another order for the chocolate roll -- and the scones, providing she bakes those year-round. I'm guessing Brooke will bake just about anything if given enough advance notice. She makes a mean gluten free 14-layer Smith Island cake (a specialty on the Eastern Shore and reminiscent of a European Sachertorte), which I'd sampled at a gluten free Expo years before. I'd intended to order that when I first called with my order, but since I'd only given her 2 days' notice -- and since it was the height of the Thanksgiving onslaught of orders -- she couldn't do it that time.
A great excuse for another drive out to Sperryville!