When Caitlin Byrne walked into KHTS’ office this morning with a box full of colorful little cupcakes, this baked foods addict pushed her way to the front of the line. And then I heard that they were gluten-free, trans-fat-free, egg-free and dairy-free and I hesitated. From my experience with baking, you take eggs, dairy, and flour away from a cupcake and you have nothing left besides the baking tin and the oven.
And then I bit into the chocolate cupcake. The smooth chocolate cake and the light vanilla icing lacked nothing. Surprised and determined to continue my sleuthing, I snatched up a lemon cupcake and then a red velvet cupcake. They were equally delicious.
But if they were everything-free, what made them taste so wonderful?
Byrne would not tell me how she does it, but I think it has something to do with how she meticulously approaches each ingredient, taking into account her clients’ dietary needs, and making substitutions. She is not afraid to take any dietary limitation and find a way to work with it.
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For Byrne, it all started when she was 11 and her family’s dietary limitations meant that they could not eat her Easy Bake Oven cupcakes. Determined to keep pastries and sugar items in the house, Byrne headed to the library and researched her family’s diets so that she could come up with a solution.
But, it wasn’t easy. In 2001, Byrne had very few gluten free products to work with and many people looked down on her efforts.
“They looked like cupcakes, they smelled like cupcakes, but they didn’t quite taste like it yet.” Byrne described some of her first attempts. She said she was 14 when she “got it down.”
As if that was not enough, Byrne challenged herself again by becoming a vegan when she was in 9th grade. The diet change improved her health, but presented another challenge: she could no longer use eggs and dairy, the “easy” solutions to problems presented by baking with gluten-free four.
“Gluten is the glutinous substance created when water hits wheat flour. When you take that out, gluten-free baking benefits from dairy products because of its binding agents, fats, and proteins. But, with those, it is still high cholesterol, high fat, and highly processed.”
Cakelin’s, Byrne’s catering business, features an allergen-free menu of gluten-free, trans-fat-free, egg-free, and dairy-free pastries including cakes, muffins, cookies, donuts, cupcakes, and cinnamon rolls. She customizes each order for her customers’ additional dietary needs.
Byrne works out of her own kitchen, though she prefers to travel to clients’ homes and cook from their kitchens. Her dream is to open up a bakery.
“I have to eat real food. I can’t just make pastries and eat them all day.” Byrne joked and said she is training to be a nutritionist and dietician. She has her food handler certificate and enjoys teaching people about how to cook within their dietary restrictions, sometimes preparing frozen meals that they can stick in the oven and enjoy.
On Cakelin’s summer menu are red velvet, strawberry, lemon, lime, mango, coconut, chocolate, and vanilla cupcakes. Byrne uses fresh produce, so her menu changes with the season. She mixes things up by re-arranging flavors, fillings, toppings, and icings.
To order from Cakelin’s, call (661) 607-1321 or email Byrne at CupMyCakez@Gmail.com. I highly recommend it.