You might have noticed something in recent months and if you haven’t then I certainly have. These days I seem to constantly be bombarded with targeted advertising for homemade baked goods that arrive through the letterbox. Up to now, I’ve disregarded these with generally unfounded scepticism, but then I saw a gap in the market.
One of these sites shouted about its gluten-free offering, and that seemed to me like a brainwave. I have so many gluten-free friends and the struggle with finding them good quality products at a reasonable price is real — baking them myself can be downright scary. A company that delivers high-quality, homemade, products for a variety of dietary requirements might just hit the mark.
And so I embarked on a journey — over the course of the last month or so, I’ve endeavoured to track down the very best postal bakeries. From local to global, vegan to gluten-free, cookies to brownies, and everything in between, I’ve seen a lot and now I’m here to bring you my favourites. I will offer the disclaimer that many of these brands offered samples of their products to me for free — as you’ll see, that far from protects them from my criticism.
Ok, so first up is a local location. Amy is the brains behind Calluna Bakery in Oxford. She has been passionately baking since 2016 and earlier this year began to offer her cookies and cupcakes by post. The aim here is to show just how good vegan baking can be, and gluten-free is more than catered for too.
I asked Amy to pick out some of her favourites for me and kicked things off with the biscuits. We got the classic chocolate chip and also the white chocolate chip. Both were packaged well to prevent contamination and the chocolate inside was definitely balanced well by the dough. Strangely enough, it was the gluten version that struggled with its consistency. It was a little grainy for my liking.
We had a wide variety of cupcakes and again, the gluten-free ones had the best taste and consistency for sure. My main note on these is the frosting — if you are a fiend for icing then you will be in dreamland but for me it was a shame as it slightly clouded the great flavour of the cake itself. The top pick was the GF Chocolate, the Coffee just didn’t pack enough of a punch.
Online, these cookies come in at 12 for £18. That’s exceptionally good value if you are going to get through all of them and could be a great bet for offices in search of an end-of-week treat that caters for everyone.
Ok, so next up is Baketime Stories. These definitely come in at the higher end of the market and are more for a special occasion but they absolutely deliver on their promise of high-quality product and packaging.
Unboxing is a genuine experience and stood out from all the other brands that I sampled. The size is also huge — birthday party sized as opposed to your standard coffee snack. Each box comes with the option to add a video message via a QR code, as well as gift messages, and the brand also works with companies for further corporate personalisation.
The important thing here is that the taste lives up to the promise and the branding. These are good at room temperature (that is how I tasted the Banoffee), but so much better when prepared in the oven or microwave as per their instructions. The amount of filling in the Kinder Bueno made it my standout but there was absolutely no way I could finish one on my own. Pure gooey brilliance. A quick note on the smore though — smores have biscuits, not just marshmallows, so add them!
These are pricey, at £18.60 for four cookies and an extra £2 for a video message. Genuinely though, they make for a special birthday gift for the cookie lover in your life and more than fill a niche at that end of the market.
The Cookie Mill
Another brand and another completely novel concept. The Cookie Mill specialises in deep-dish cookies and caters for both gluten-free and regular diets. Even more pleasing than that was the fact that there was no discernible difference between the two.
I had a huge selection here that took me a couple of days to get through but, eventually, I tried every single one of the 11 flavours on offer. These range from the regular chocolate chip to the wild and wacky apple crumble with all certainly distinctive.
The favourite for me was without a doubt the triple chocolate and salted caramel with the Hazelnut Heaven a close second. The thing that makes these is the gooey interior and warming them up in the microwave is a no-brainer. There are some to steer clear of though if you ask me — Lotus Biscoff and apple? No thanks.
Prices here are in the middle, at £25 to build a box of any 12 cookies. This makes them a good offering to cover off the dessert course at parties or again, an end-of-week office treat.
Cookie dough is one of those things, you love it or you hate it. I am very much in the love it camp and one of those people who secretly only ever bakes to scoop the leftovers out of the bowl when the cookies are in the oven. As you can imagine, I was excited for a company that promised delivered varieties. Again, there are vegan and lactose-free options.
There are over 25 different flavours and I got a taste of four of their ‘fun-size pots’. Eight of these cost £22, with free UK delivery. Overall, these were a letdown. The smore was another example of mini marshmallows masquerading as something grander and the birthday cake simply didn’t have much to it. The best of the bunch was doubtless the mint choc crisp. Here, the freshness of the mint compliments the rich chocolate perfectly. Whatever you do, definitely heat these up in the microwave for the 30 recommended seconds, it takes them to another level completely.
So that’s it, the conclusion of my delivered bakes odyssey. In general, I think the hype train has still got a way to go. Make no mistake some of these are great for a special occasion and the likes of Baketime Stories make a superb gift. Really though, the price point is still (quite understandably) so high that anything other than home baking makes little sense for an everyday treat.