Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Life, Liberty, Cake for All

Inspired by son's autism, Noblesville woman opens gluten-free bakery

By Krista Bocko
Current in Noblesville

To most people, ordering and eating a bakery birthday cake is a fairly ordinary event. But when Jennifer Wiese took the order for a gluten- and dairy-free frosted vanilla birthday cake – with the image of Yoda on it – she had no idea the reaction her creation would create.

Her customer had searched online, found the BeeFree Bakery website and was thrilled to find a local gluten- and dairy-free bakery like Wiese’s. The customer loved Yoda and asked Wiese if it were possible to put the Star Wars character on her cake. Wiese called a cake-decorating friend who printed a picture of Yoda on gluten-free edible rice paper.

“She had never had a birthday cake,” explained Wiese. “I put it (the image of Yoda) on the cake and delivered it to her, and she was in tears. She was literally crying.”

“Everyone should be able to enjoy life, liberty, and cake.”

Wiese, the owner and baker of BeeFree Bakery, a Noblesville gluten-and dairy-free bakery, has been baking gluten-free products for her family for the past five years. She started when she heard about how going gluten-free food might be able to help her oldest son, who is on the autism spectrum.

“The impact on him was huge,” she said.

Since then, she’s had a passion for baking treats just as delicious as their gluten-containing counterparts -- not just gluten-free baking.

Wiese, who opened her bakery in January, wears her black-and-white checked apron and churns out delicious sweet treats in the commercial kitchen in Logan Street Marketplace in downtown Noblesville.

Following hours and hours of research, she understands the challenges of gluten- and dairy-free baking. She has substituted gluten-free flours in her family’s favorite recipes before finally finding the right combination of five different flours that lend just the right texture and taste to sweets.

“When I first started baking, I would buy the flour mixes in the grocery and was never happy with it,” she said. “When you look at the ingredients, a lot of them contain bean flour, and I didn’t like the taste they created in baked goods. It took me awhile to find just what I was looking for.”

“Having to feed someone that has these dairy- and gluten-free needs is difficult. So, every time I wanted something sweet and freshly baked for my son, I had a hard time finding something that was really tasty. Over those years of experimenting, I felt like there was a need for this kind of business.”

The response from customers, including her participation in the Indianapolis Winter Farmer’s Market, has confirmed that she’s on to a good thing.

“People really do seek this type of product, and I have something that people like and enjoy,” said Wiese.

Her products are used by Green B.E.A.N. delivery, a local grocery delivery service.

“It’s nice to work with them (B.E.A.N.) because they have local fresh products that I can work with, like zucchini for my zucchini bread, so I purchase some of my ingredients from them. I believe in supporting local growers and producers and using as many local and organic ingredients as I can.”

Wiese’s vision is also to make her products more readily available for the community.

“My hope is to grow,” she said. “I can’t do it all on my own. I did this so I could offer really good-tasting fresh gluten- and dairy-free foods. Realistically, I can’t do all of that, bake it, market it and sell it. My goal is to find somebody to bake it so I can go out and sell it.”

What’s the best part of what she does?

“It’s nice to make that connection through food,” she said. “Food is such an integral part of everyone’s life. If you can make it really special, it’s a neat gift to give somebody.”

About BeeFree Bakery

Where to purchase: Logan Street Marketplace, 937 Logan St., Noblesville (call BeeFree Bakery ahead to place your order); Blu Moon Café, 200 S. Rangeline Road, Carmel; Green B.E.A.N.,, 317.377.0470

Products: Let it Bee…John Lemon cake, Chocolate Dream cupcakes, Chocolate Crinkle cookies, Vanilla Velvet cake, frozen pizza dough, all purpose flour mix (to substitute in favorite recipes). Products may change seasonally.


Gluten-Free Snickerdoodles
½ cup Earth Balance buttery spread
½ cup Earth Balance shortening
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ¾ cup BeeFree flour mix
2 tsp. xanthan gum
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. sea salt
4 T. sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
1. Cream together first 3 ingredients, then add eggs and vanilla, mix well.
2.  Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to above. Mix well.
3.  Shape dough into rounded balls (an ice cream scooper works well).
4.  Mix sugar and cinnamon in small bowl and roll balls in mixture.
5.  Place dough balls 2 “ apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
6.  Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes until set, but not too hard. They will appear not quite done, but will firm as they cool.
7.  Remove from cookie sheet before they cool.

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