The bakery, which is family-owned, officially opened in January. Michelle Williams Bonura owns it with her husband, Rich, her sister, Shawna Williams, and Shawna’s partner, Vivian Hill. Shawna is the creator of the sweets you can eat without downing pills.
“The recipes belong to our grandmother," explains Michelle. "It took Shawna more than two years to transform them into vegan and gluten-free." Before this, Shawna owned her own cake business, BCL Eats.
Rich’s interest in both desserts and autoimmune disease inspired the vegan and gluten-free offerings. Science-based studies have shown improvement in the symptoms of patients with autoimmune diseases who switched to plant-based and gluten-free foods.
To the left is the Instagram area: a royal-blue sofa juxtaposed against a floral wall of white roses. If that’s not your jam (pun intended), then maybe the red egg chairs will do the job.
Across from the floral wall are tables and chairs that continue out to the patio, a pretty space enlivened by pots of pink and red geraniums and purple and white petunias.
Once you've finished your photo shoot, the real fun begins. First-timers receive a complimentary sample of BEG's soft-serve. “Vanilla, chocolate, or swirl?” asks the woman behind the counter, who has spent some time explaining the system. Swirl, of course — variety is the spice of life, after all. She disappears behind a set of doors and comes back a minute later with a condiment-size cup of ice cream. You take a spoonful and decide to find a place to sit, perhaps under one of the black-and-white-striped awnings. You need to be fully present for this luscious, rich swirl of vanilla and chocolate that resists under your spoon before melting between your tongue and palate and delighting your tastebuds.
Everything at BEG is vegan; anything in a red wrapper is also gluten-free.
The purchase of four or six items yields a discount, so take a box home to the family. Listen as they ooh and aah over how moist the cakes are and exclaim that the blueberry muffin is the best they’ve ever had. Ditto the coffee cake with its hint of almond. But this time, lactose-intolerant members — who would normally take a small bite and forgo the rest — will be able to indulge without worry. Life just got fair.
How such moist texture is achieved with almond, coconut, and macadamia milks is Shawna’s secret. Aside from the texture, the flavors are incredible, and not cloyingly sweet. The Casino Blueberry Muffin, for example, isn’t just blueberry: It’s lemon, poppyseed, and blueberry, the perfect marriage of ingredients. Even the My Jam Cupcake has a mellow sweetness, despite the homemade berry jam in the middle.
When you haven’t had dessert without pain since the Clinton scandal, eating vegan and gluten-free bakery treats that don’t sacrifice texture or flavor is utterly liberating.
BEG has two separate kitchens in order to avoid gluten cross-contamination; both are located in Tempe. A third-party lab has tested the bakery and creamery's products and certified them as vegan. The lab has also verified the absence of gluten in the gluten-free products.
The bakery's owners are looking to ramp things up at BEG in the coming months, with plans to have several food trucks outside, including ones that specialize in vegan/gluten-free food. They're also scheduling more regular events.
“I used to be in ministry and love to serve,” says Michelle. “We're adding community events monthly for people with special needs (high-functioning autistic and Down syndrome), single moms, and caregivers." The idea was inspired by Shawna's daughter, who is on the autism spectrum. "I want people with special needs to feel included," Michelle adds. "I want them to come in here and feel us love them with open arms.”
BEG Bakery & Creamery
3030 North 68th Street, Scottsdale
9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.