Many people believe the taste of traditional pastries, cookies, cakes, and breads can’t be re-created without the use of milk, eggs, and butter — but bakeries across South Florida are shattering that stereotype and creating plant-based versions of classic sweets.
From Boca Raton to Coconut Grove, South Florida boasts at least six vegan bakeries. They range in size and offerings, from cupcakes to empanadas to doughnuts to challah bread — and the wide variety means a foodie can find almost any baked good imaginable sans animal products.
L’Artisane Creative Bakery in North Miami Beach is unique in its specialty: European-style baked goods (French in particular) — a culinary tradition famous for its heavy use of butter, milk, and cream.
Run by chef Carolina Quijada, L’Artisane offers an array of meticulously crafted pastries, bonbons, petits gateaux, tartlets, mousses, and, her most popular item, croissants. The last start at $3.25 for a plain, and most pastries cost $5.95.
“That’s the missing link I couldn’t find anywhere: I couldn’t find croissants and beautiful bonbons,” Quijada says of her inspiration to create vegan versions of these classics.
“As vegans, we want to be part of it and have a nice experience, so it kind of turned into my obsession that drives me. If I see something I’m like, let me see how I can make it vegan.”
Because of the buttery nature of the iconic croissant, vegan versions are still rare. But Quijada’s variety has taken off locally, with people raving about its taste and texture.
“We just started selling my croissants to the Loews Hotel,” Quijada says. “We’re delivering daily, and it’s amazing to see those kinds of changes in big hotels.”
Her croissants and other items are also available at her own café as well as the VShops in Coconut Grove, Green Bar & Kitchen in Fort Lauderdale, and Planta South Beach, among several other area eateries.
GLAM Vegan in Midtown Miami uses Quijada’s breads. “Her pastries and breads are delicious,” says GLAM co-owner and chef Todd Erickson, who’s known for his expertise in both vegan and nonvegan foods.
“Chef Quijada is able to achieve textures that are very difficult to get without the use of animal fats and dairy. They’re also beautiful. I’m so happy that we can support other local small businesses by serving her bread at GLAM,” he says.
Quijada has worked for years at perfecting the recipe. Having trained with some of the world’s leading chefs, she’s taken their classic techniques and substituted plant-based ingredients to re-create the European-style pastries she always loved before going vegan.
The process has involved a lot of trial-and-error. Quijada says she perfected the buttery flavor of her croissants through a blend of imported oils. She also uses almond milk instead of cow’s milk.
Pumpkin tarlets at L’Artisane.
Photo by Jonathan Molea and Eduardo Hernandez
Her unique culinary style is a combination of things, she says. “It’s a little bit of science and determination and a lot of love for what I do. And some obsession too.”
L’Artisane is one-of-a-kind because of its focus on European-style pastries, but the vegan bakery scene is growing in South Florida.
Miami’s first all-vegan bakery, Bunnie Cakes, has become an iconic Wynwood spot. Its founder, Mariana Cortez, made a name for herself on the famed culinary competition show Cupcake Wars. From there, her colorful creations exploded in popularity, and now, in addition to her shop, she has a decorating studio where kids and adults alike can bedeck their own vegan sweets.
Recently, Coconut Grove’s vShops, the nation’s first all-vegan food hall, opened My Brother’s Bakery as one of its concepts. “We were inspired to create a bakery in honor of our founder Alex Cuevas’ brother Jorge, who helped this dream begin over eight years ago,” vShops president Lori Zito says.
The gluten-free lineup includes cookies such as gingersnaps, chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sesame seed, and cutouts, along with brownies, pies, baked doughnuts, classic biscotti, peanut butter cups, and Goddess Bars made from nuts, seeds, chocolate chips, peanut butter, and maple syrup.
VShops also carries items from other local bakers that aren’t gluten-free, including croissants from L’Artisane and cinnamon rolls and doughnuts from Vegan Schmegan. “We are proud to support local vegan bakers, as our mantra is ‘We are all brothers,'” Zito says.
“Baked goods are traditionally reliant on butter, eggs, and milk to give them their rich, indulgent tastes and textures,” Zito adds. “With vegan baking, you have to be very creative and use some surprising ingredients such as apples, flax, beans, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil to create treats with the same richness.”
Other vegan bakeries in South Florida include two locations of Parlour Vegan Bakery (in Plantation and Boca Raton) and Chef Chloe and the Vegan Cafe in St. Roch Market.
From croissants to cupcakes, it’s clear Miami is ground zero for a new era of baking — one where chicken’s eggs and cow’s milk may no longer be necessary.
L’Artisane Creative Bakery. 7423 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-502-8595; lartisanebakery.com. Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.