Rubicon Bakers was founded two and a half decades ago as a non-profit with the aim to benefit those in need of a second chance through employment and job training.
Today, the California-based bakery employs nearly 200 bakers who scratch-bake cakes, cupcakes and other baked goods for sale at more than 2,500 retail outlets across the US.
After more than a year in research and development, it has now rolled out the new Vegan Vanilla Cake and Cupcakes, and Vegan Chocolate Blackout Cake and Cupcakes.
Plant-based foods are booming and moving beyond the dairy-alternative case to other parts of the grocery store. According to a Nielsen study conducted for the Plant Based Foods Association and the Good Food Institute, sales of plant-based food in the US went up by 8.1% in 2017, topping $3.1bn.
“One of our core values as a company is 'delight' and we are proud to share that with millions of people who choose to eat a plant-based diet, in addition to those that don't,” said Andrew Stoloff, president of Rubicon Bakers.
“Our new vegan product line features natural chocolate and vanilla flavors, and is decadent, rich and ready to be enjoyed by all types of eaters.”
The new line features a 4-inch Vegan Cake and double layers 11oz Cake, as well as a 10oz four-pack of Cupcakes, made from 100% vegan ingredients, including vegan sugar, chocolate chips, vanilla and non-GMO expeller-pressed canola oil.
Available at selected Whole Foods Markets, Sprouts, Northern California Safeways, Natural Grocers for a RRP of $6.99 for the Cakes and $4.99 for the pack of Cupcakes.
BAS: Why did the recipe take a year to formulate?
We wanted to make a vegan dessert that was wholesome and delightful without compromising on ingredients, flavor, or texture. We take pride in using all natural, clean ingredients with no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and in a vegan product, that can limit the available ingredient options tremendously.
However, making a vegan dessert with all-natural ingredients was only half the battle - we also wanted to make it delicious! After extensive research and development, we ended up with a decadent and dreamy line of cream-filled cupcakes and cakes cupcakes that just happen to be vegan.
BAS: What vegan ingredients are used?
We use vegan sugar and confectioner’s sugar, vegan chocolate, and non-GMO expeller-pressed canola oil in these products.
BAS: Tell us about the organization
Rubicon Bakers is more than a bakery – by hiring those who have formerly been incarcerated, homeless or recently recovered from substance abuse and continually supporting the community, we spread compassion to build a committed and empowered workforce of more than 200 people.
We now offer over 50 products, in addition to seasonal dessert offerings, for specialty and mainstream grocers, each one baked from scratch and finished by hand. Our mantra through it all has been “Bake a Better World.”
BAS: Who founded Rubicon Bakers?
Rubicon Bakers was founded by Rubicon Programs, a Richmond-based non-profit organization committed to transforming East Bay communities by equipping people to break the cycle of poverty. With their values of justice, hope, and humility guiding them in their work, they originally started the bakery as a job-training site for participants going through their program.
When they decided to sell the bakery, Leslie Crary and I visited and fell in love with the mission and the people. We bought the bakery, allowing it to flourish and provide opportunities to more people than ever. Though Rubicon Bakers now operates separately from Rubicon Programs, our missions are deeply aligned and we share a significant percentage of our profits with them to support the important work they are doing for the community.
BAS: What is the bakery’s biggest achievement?
For 45 years, Rubicon Programs has helped equip people to break the cycle of poverty, constantly adapting their approach to the changing needs of the community. Their optimism and hope allow them to constantly seek justice and think creatively about how to solve social issues.
Rubicon Bakers is now a thriving, privately owned Certified B-Corporation. Though we operate separately from Rubicon Programs, we carry on the bakery’s founding mission by hiring and supporting individuals with significant barriers to employment.
BAS: What are the biggest challenges currently facing the vegan trend?
We don’t consider vegan a trend. We see it as a growing movement and awareness towards healthy and ethical eating that is here to stay. We believe in the power of delight, and promise our customers a great-tasting product made with integrity, whether plant-based or otherwise.
BAS: What do you think will be the next best thing in baked goods?
We see a shift towards nostalgia and making old comforts new again. Our products are all scratch-baked and hand-finished, and we find that our attention to detail and dedication to traditional baking techniques resonate with our customers.
BAS: Where do the profits go?
We donate a significant percentage of our profits to Rubicon Programs to support the important mission that we all share. The rest goes back into growing the business, because the more we grow, the more we are able to support our community and transform lives.