I ventured out last Tuesday to the Champaign Farmers’ Market in search of a treat at Berries & Flour. I’m never one to turn down a pastry, so this was a chance to scope out the (baked) goods. Berries & Flour prides itself on using as many locally-sourced ingredients as possible; they even forage from their own farm located in northwest Champaign.
Each of Berries & Flour’s 2.5” square cakes is $3, or you can snag 4 for $10. So, of course, I went for the 4 cakes — for better research, you know. The booth offers about ten different flavors of cake, and each one was made either earlier that day or just the day before. Each cake I tried reflected that freshness and was moist and flavorful.
The first cake I tried was blueberry poppyseed. It was a moist, lemon-flavored cake that tasted much like a muffin, which allows it to be a perfectly acceptable treat to enjoy at breakfast. There was also a touch of Earl Grey tea in the ingredients, which was subtle but still noticeable. With the Earl Grey and blueberries, the blueberry poppyseed would be excellent with a hot cup of coffee or tea.
Next, I sampled the lemon elderflower cake. Berries & Flour grows their own elderflowers on their farm, but the lemon flavor really shone here. It was refreshing without being overpowering or too tart and with a nice spongy texture.
Third up was the sweet potato mango. This little treat is a perfect transition from summer to fall with its spice flavors. It tasted much like a carrot cake and was topped with just the right amount of cream cheese icing. I couldn’t quite detect the mango flavors; it was overpowered by cinnamon and allspice, but still delicious.
Lastly, I couldn’t resist the chocolate elderberry. It was a rich, dense chocolate cake topped off with a chocolate ganache. Full disclosure: I dropped my camera right onto the ganache as I was taking photos for this article, but that did not stop me from enjoying it. This cake is for the more serious chocolate lovers, as it’s more bittersweet like dark chocolate. The ganache was very decadent and creamy and would be divine warmed up. Despite detecting only a small hint of elderberry, this one was my favorite.
Along with cakes, they also sell syrups, jams, teas, and shrubs. While I was looking at their products, I sampled a shrub for the first time. A shrub is a fruity, vinegar-based beverage. This shrub from Berries & Flour was refreshing while still having the zing of the vinegar. The owner, Heidi Leuszler, was very helpful in telling me about her products, farm, and the processes she goes through to make these delectable little cakes. Each small box lists all the ingredients, plus denotes which treats are vegan or gluten-free. While it’s nice that they offer these, I would be careful if you do have food allergies since all the cakes are produced in same kitchen, and there is not guarantee that there won’t be any cross-contamination of wheat or dairy.
It was interesting speaking with Leuszler about all her ingredients and learning about the ingredients the do use. Some ingredients, for example, come from other farms. Poppy seeds, for instance, do not grow in this area so they use them from another farm. Berries & Flour incorporates a plethora of flavors and creative combinations in their baked goods and offer both chocolate and non-chocolate options. From refreshing, summer flavors like watermelon sponge to a spicy chocolate chipotle, the bakery offers unique and exciting flavors I haven’t seen a lot of in other bakeries in the Champaign area. Personally, I hope to try the pumpkin spicebush cake soon.
While Berries & Flour does not have a storefront yet, check out their website or Facebook page to see where they’ll be. They frequent the Champaign Farmers’ Market and you can find them at the Urbana Farmers’ Market, too. They also sell larger cakes up to 8” rounds and I found a lot of great information on their website such as allergy information, locally-sourced ingredients, and even tips on how to freeze your cake (I doubt I’ll ever have to do this with one of their cakes; they’re delicious and I have no self-control). They accepts both cash and credit cards.
If you find yourself at Berries & Flour, treat yourself to a cake (or 4) for an indulgence that you can feel guilt-free about for its ingredient transparency and locally-sourced ingredients.
Photos by Remington Rock