For many San Diegans fall wouldn’t feel complete without a drive to Julian and a walk down Main Street where the smells of cinnamon and apples baking tempt the senses.
For those who eat gluten-free, Julian’s Apple Alley is pie heaven. The rustic bakery offers lovely patio seating under leafy trees and a cozy interior with a log cabin feel.
Long-time local Debbie Gaudette has been enticing customers with her famous crumb topping for years. Then, several years ago, a good friend had to start eating gluten-free and Gaudette became determined to continue making pies for him.
She perfectected a gluten-free crust that’s flaky, but not crumbly.
Debbie showed me around her kitchen and explained all the protocols she put in place to help ensure a safe gluten-free experience for her customers.
“Bakers start the day making the gluten free pies. This ensures fresh, clean surfaces, racks, and utensils,” she said. In addition, Gaudette labels and color codes all gluten-free ingredients and stores them in a separate area.
Patrons won’t spy a gluten-free pie in the case, because Apple Alley keeps gluten-free pies on a separate rack in the back of the store.
The staff at Apple Alley are friendly and attentive and inform customers who order gluten-free that the bakery is not a dedicated facility. They also let customers know that a binder listing all ingredients and nutrition labels is available if they need to refer to it.
Because Gaudette goes to such lengths to ensure the trust of customers with allergy concerns, she’s added a dedicated gluten-free fan base to the list of many locals who say Apple Alley makes their favorite pie in town.
What to Order
Pie is king here.
Apple Alley carries two gluten-free pies every day: apple and apple-boysenberry. Each are topped with a rich crumb that melts in the mouth along with fillings that are lightly sweet and super fresh.
In the apple-boysenberry, the tartness from the berries compliments bite size apples that hold their shape when baked.
Gaudette is pleased to meet dietary needs. Though the crumb topping contains soy and dairy, she can accommodate vegan diets by using a double crust rather than crumb topping and makes sugar free pies as well.
Gaudette will bake up any of her pies gluten-free as a special order, but she requires 24-hours notice. This opens up the possibility of enjoying gluten-free version of caramel apple pecan, cherry apple, mango apple, and strawberry rhubarb.
All pies can be served warm, plain or a la mode, and nothing beats a warm slice heaped with a creamy scoop of vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.
The lunch special with half sandwich, soup or salad, and slice of pie for $11.95 is an option for those who eat gluten-free as a lifestyle choice, as there are gluten-free dressings available, and sometimes the soup of the day is gluten-free as well.
Sandwiches can be made on gluten-free bread for no extra charge, though meats and cheeses are not kept in separated bins, making cross contamination possible.
Pro Tip: Just want a pie to take home? Head directly to the “Whole Pie Only” window on the side of the shop to avoid long lines. During the holiday season, be sure to pre-order pies at least 24 hours in advance.
Visit Apple Alley Bakery
2122 Main Street, Julian
Open daily, 9am- 5pm