Roanna Canete has studied everything from organizational leadership and entrepreneurship to chocolate-making and gelato. However, it wasn’t until her young son was diagnosed with food allergies, including wheat, that she amped up her baking skills and opened her own San Diego-based, allergy-friendly bakeshop, The Gluten Free Baking Co, in February of 2020.
Though most of her customers are gluten free, about 15% are looking for a safe, sweet treat to share with a friend or family member. The bestsellers are donuts, bagels and cream puffs; they also make custom cakes for special occasions.
Since the pandemic, Canete’s shop has seen an increased demand for gluten free products. “During spring the national supply chain broke down and grocery stores were out of gluten free bread as well as many other products here in San Diego,” she said. “Our sales significantly increased during that time and went back to normal when the supply chain caught up. People were so relieved to have an alternative source for their baked goods.”
Lucky for Canete, her pastry-making training gave her the foundational techniques necessary for baking, critical skills she said couldn’t do without. The hardest items to make gluten free, she explains, have been bread and bagels. “These are two items where pastry school won’t help. Gluten free bread has a completely different set of rules. We tried every recipe under the sun in order to come up with three options for our clients: vegan, dairy free and regular,” she said.
Even with all her skills, Canete still finds that gluten free baking is difficult and requires flexibility and creativity, a few things she wants her customers to understand. In her opinion, gluten free products have come a long way, and many, including those at her shop, taste as good as “regular” pastries and baked goods, meaning you might never suspect they’re missing gluten.
Though Canete didn’t consider herself a good baker before she started making gluten free goodies for her son, she’s now an expert in the field. “When people tell me that their wedding or baby shower or birthday party was even more special because they had a gorgeous, tasty, gluten free dessert from our shop, I am filled with joy. I love being able to provide something that is just as beautiful and tasty as the gluten filled options available.”
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