What do you get when you combine the innate ability to create amazing flavors with sparkles and all the energy of a championship cheer-leading squad? The only answer can be Kyra Bussanich, the owner of Kyra's Bake Shop in Lake Oswego, and the only four-time winner of Food Network's Cupcake Wars. (You can catch one of her episodes here. Spoiler alert: she wins.) We sat down for a Facebook Live video to interview Kyra, and to sample some of her truly sweet creations.
Being the only contestant to win four episodes is impressive to begin with, but Kyra adds another layer to that tapestry of delicious success: all of her cupcakes are 100% gluten-free. In fact, every product she sells is gluten-free, so diners with severe sensitivity to it can enjoy a worry-free experience. She was the first gluten-free baker to win on the show, and continued to beat out other bakers who used more traditional recipes.
Kyra's journey started a decade ago, when doctors were having a hard time controlling the debilitating symptoms of Crohn's Disease. While doctors wanted to perform a rather drastic surgery, she wanted to try one last thing, which was to go gluten-free. While doing so prevented the surgery and she saw dramatic improvement in her quality of life, the options on the market at the time weren't exactly exciting taste buds. She decided she would personally change that, and enrolled in the well-known Le Cordon Bleu patisserie program. It was there she honed her baking skills and discovered she has a truly amazing ability to craft unique yet delicious flavors that are delighting diners.
The story is truly inspirational, but our favorite takeaway from the interview as the revelation that Kyra watches cooking shows like other people watch sports. She recounted how one day when watching the first season of cupcake wars she was literally yelling at the television as a baker was not doing justice to some awesome ingredients she was handed. At the suggestion of her husband, she applied for the show and heard back almost immediately. Hearing her tell the story, you can tell how amazing the journey was.
We enjoyed our time with Kyra, as her passion for the flavors she creates comes through clearly when she talks. But to really experience it, you have to eat her food. We did. And to say we loved it would be an understatement. Gluten-free food has a reputation as being, at best, a suitable substitute for traditional recipes. But Kyra has mastered her craft to the point that you wouldn't know you're eating gluten-free cupcakes. The Cupcake Wars judges are right, her creations are the best we've ever eaten.
I honestly couldn't tell you which one of the five we sampled was my favorite, they were all that good. Today I'm thinking it was the German Chocolate. The Margarita cupcake that she's serving all month was pretty awesome too though. Or maybe it was the dairy-free citrus cloud. Well, there's only one way to decide: I'm going to have to go back and try them all again. In the mean time, watch the interview below. Or better yet, head on over to Lake Oswego and try them for yourself. You will definitely be glad you did.
At a Glance:
Kyra's Bake Shop 599 A Avenue Lake Oswego
Open 7 days a week, 7 am - 5 pm