Poulsbo's Gluten Free Bakery and Market is closing

Martha Hofmann checks some baked goods Friday at Gluten-Free Bakery and Market in Poulsbo. The bakery and market
Martha Hofmann checks some baked goods Friday at Gluten-Free Bakery and Market in Poulsbo. The bakery and market's last day of business is Saturday.
— image credit: Richard Walker

POULSBO -- The Gluten Free Bakery and Market opened 18 months ago in Poulsbo Village, riding the wave of national interest in gluten-free foods.

By some appearances, the bakery and market seemed to be doing well. The bakery and market was a popular feature of the Poulsbo Farmers Market. Its customers hailed from all over Kitsap County. Shoppers were lined up Thanksgiving Eve to pick up their pie orders.

On most mornings, the homey smell of fresh-baked goods wafted down the hallway of the large 8th Avenue building that it shares with the Chamber of Commerce, Curves, Galletta School of Dance, Sound Publishing Co., Sunrise Dental, and other businesses.

But the bakery and market never made enough money to promote itself. And it’s tucked out of view; its entrance is in the back of the building, not streetside.

“It’s been a while coming,” owner Martha Hofmann said Friday. “The location is a difficult one. And we never got ahead enough to do more in the way of advertising.”

So, on Saturday, the Gluten Free Bakery and Market opens for the last time, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The bakery and market will spend next week filling final orders, then the ovens will be turned off for good.

Hofmann, a retired lawyer who specialized in environmental and American Indian law, was inspired to start the bakery and market after developing gluten-free recipes for her husband, who has Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder.

Gluten is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. Gluten gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture. Some people with autoimmune disorders are allergic to gluten.

Gluten-free baked goods and breads are made from amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, chestnut, cornflour from maize, cornmeal, millet meal, polenta, potato flour, rice, sago, quinoa, sorghum, soy flour and tapioca.

Hofmann estimates that 10 percent of the Kitsap population eats gluten-free. (An unrelated blog, Gluten Free Foodies, by Lisa Garza, is one of the most popular blogs posted on Sound Publishing Co. websites.)

For the gluten-free gourmet, the bakery and market was cloud nine. On this particular day, the bakery case was stocked with brownies, cinnamon rolls, cranberry/pumpkin/walnut muffins, macaroons, and pumpkin bars.

The refrigerated section was stocked with burritos (beef and potato, chicken and cheese, and vegetarian), chicken nuggets, crab cakes, lasagna, Thai-style chicken curry, brown rice tortillas, veggie burgers, and waffles.

On the shelves: snacks, mixes and spreads. Mainstream items included Arrowhead bottled water, organic iced coffee, and V8.

But alas, a unique experience for the palate was not enough. The bakery and market pulled in between 30-35 customers a day.

“In order to survive as a business, our territory needs to be much larger,” Hofmann said.

And so, two full-time bakers and two part-time bakers are looking for jobs. As for Hofmann, “I’m going to take care of my health.”


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