Because . . .
My dream is for anyone to be able to have any treat they want. Especially if it's your child.
Maybe your child patiently says "No, thank you" when a parent shows up at school with gorgeous cupcakes for someone's birthday.
Maybe your child takes a pack of allergy-free cookies to every party she's invited to, because she's sure to be allergic to the pizza and birthday cake.
Maybe your child has special dietary needs and follows the Feingold Diet or other restrictions.
Maybe you never get to order dessert in a restaurant or go out for a treat because of food intolerance.
Maybe you're allergic to gluten AND eggs, and every label you read has one or the other.
Maybe you're tired of "allergy friendly" foods that taste like cardboard.
The FULL STORY
My name is Nicole Seevers. I am a former attorney who used to go out (or order in) for nearly every meal. Now I'm a mother of three, and I spend a LOT of time in the kitchen. My son Cole has asthma, and he's allergic to dairy, eggs, tree nuts, buckwheat, sesame and shellfish. He also spent nearly a year avoiding wheat and gluten. As a result, I have spent the last decade mixing, mashing and messing around in the kitchen in an effort to make delicious treats that everyone in my family can eat. I threw away lots of failed experiments, and posted a few of the better recipes on a blog I created to pay homage to Cole and my favorite book by Ernest Hemingway. I've also read dozens of cookbooks, as well as everything I could get my hands on about food allergies, asthma, the link between nutrition and health, our national food system and baking without dairy or eggs. Food allergies can be overwhelming and depressing, and more than once I thought, "I wish someone could just come in here and show me what I need to buy and how to make a decent-tasting cake."
So now I'm a home baker serving the Northern Virginia area. My offerings include custom cakes, cupcakes, cookies, seasonal breads, pastries and pies baked to order without dairy, egg, nuts, gluten and/or any other allergens you specify.
I also offer consulting services. If you've just found out someone in your life can't eat certain foods anymore, and you're feeling overwhelmed or simply don't have the time to learn how to do everything differently, I'm here to help with pantry overhauls, grocery lists and resources, cooking demonstrations, tips and tricks, and how to survive school and parties with food restrictions. I also offer baking demonstrations and classes to groups and organizations.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Tell me about your basic cake.
My biggest sellers are cakes and cupcakes made without gluten, nuts, dairy or egg. In the past, I have used pre-made gluten-free flours (see some of my favorite brands below) and egg substitutes like Ener-G egg replacer, applesauce, baking soda and/or ground flaxseed meal. While I still use those items in my loaves and muffins, and for certain specialty orders where there is a unique allergy, I recently decided that to get my cakes to taste exactly the way I want, I needed to create my own gluten-free flour blend and egg substitute. The resulting cake is moist, light and fluffy, and it won't fall apart after your first bite. We love them around here and have been known to eat them unfrosted for breakfast!
Can you bake without soy or corn?
You bet. I can bake without just about any ingredient, as long as you let me know. If there are limitations to how the item will taste or look, we will discuss that when you order.
Do you make "regular" cakes . . . you know, with butter and eggs and stuff?
Yes. I've been baking without eggs and dairy for so long, I must confess that at first I didn't like my regular cakes as much as the allergy-free stuff! But I've recently perfected my traditional cake recipes, and I'm happy to make one for you. However, a vast majority of the work I do is customized around food allergies or restrictions.
How long will my cake or goodies keep? How do I store them?
Almost everything I bake can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container to preserve moisture. Bear in mind, I believe in REAL food (Michael Pollan's food rules are a favorite read), and that's what you're ordering. Because these are homemade baked goods, they are not full of preservatives and will not stay "fresh" as long as the food you buy at the grocery store. That's especially true of gluten-free baked goods, which dry out quickly. Your order is handed to you freshly-baked, and it's intended for consumption within a day or two. If you must wait longer, or wish to travel with the item, I'd recommend freezing it until you're ready to go. You can also refrigerate it, but refrigeration speeds up retrogradation, which is a fancy way of saying it goes stale faster. Guess what slows down retrogradation . . . things like eggs and whole milk. You see my point. In any case, always bring your goodies to room temperature before serving. And don't leave it in the car unless you want a sad mess! (But you're free to EAT it in the car right after you pick it up!)
Can I order something I don't see on your web site?
What you see on the web site is just a sampling of my offerings. The majority of my work is made up of customized cakes and other bakery items. And I'm willing to try any dessert - chances are I've made what you have in mind, so let's talk!
Is your kitchen and home free of my allergens?
No. My family eats items that our son is allergic to, but I go to great lengths to ensure that utensils, machinery, equipment and work areas are sanitized between use. I keep a dedicated set of pans used only for bakery orders in a cabinet separated from the rest of the kitchen, and ingredients used to prepare bakery orders are kept in a separate pantry and refrigerator. I read all ingredient labels very carefully. If an ingredient indicates that it may contain or has been made on equipment that also processes your specified allergen, I will not use it in your order. Assistants are trained on the importance of best practices for avoiding food allergies, so that I can provide treats with as little exposure to cross-contamination as possible. Please note, however, that there may still be particles in the air. In addition, although I use the highest quality ingredients, ingredient manufacturers sometimes fail to label cross-contamination risks. If your food allergy is life-threatening, please call me at (917) 531-4409 to discuss the risks before ordering.
Speaking of ingredients, what are some of the ingredients and brands you use?
Some of my favorites are: Authentic Foods everything, especially their flours and gluten-free blends, Ener-G starches and egg replacer, The Teff Company gluten-free flours, Arrowhead Mills baking mixes and ingredients, Hodgson Mill flaxseed and other baking ingredients, Whole Foods 365 brand ingredients, Earth Balance butters and shortenings, Spectrum Organics oils and shortenings, Nielsen-Massey vanilla, McCormick and Simply Organic extracts and other flavorings, organic soy and rice milks, cane sugar, pure vanilla extract, Hershey's cocoa, Enjoy Life chocolate products, Vermont Nut Free chocolate and candy melts, India Tree sprinkles and other decorations, organic fruit spreads, sea salt, Hain gluten free baking powder and baking soda. I also occasionally use Fleischmann's margarine and Smart Balance dairy free spreads when additives or soy are not an issue.
Can you make desserts that comply with the Feingold Diet or other special diets?
I am a Feingold Association member and receive the complete food guide quarterly. I check every ingredient used in your order against the list, and only use approved cooking sprays and oils to prepare baking pans. If you follow another special diet, please call to discuss it before placing your order.
How about Paleo or sugar-free desserts?
I get this question a lot. Most of the treats are made with grains, such as wheat or rice flour, and cane sugar. But I have made a few grain-free cakes, as well as desserts without refined sugars. Paleo baking is not my primary focus, but I often make healthier versions of popular desserts for my own family, so we can definitely come up with something special that works for you (and the Seevers family will eat the rejects!).
Do you have mail order?
Not yet. I currently serve the Northern Virginia area. And I don't mind delivering to Fairfax County, Loudon County, etc. during non-peak times . . . as long as it's not rush hour! See delivery fees on the Contact/Order page.