If you've been following along since September 1st (THANK YOU, you are our people & we love you!) you know that we are not strangers to delicious ingredients — like sugar, flour and, of course, butter. We've featured traditional recipes, like apple pie and turnovers, and we've grown by testing new recipes we've never experienced. This week is no different, except the recipes featured today contain ZERO flour, sugar or butter. (You're allowed to gasp at this prospect, that was our first reaction too!)
After spending a Saturday morning baking with her recipes and products, we sat down to chat on the phone with Laurel Gallucci, of Sweet Laurel Bakery in L.A. One thing is for sure, Sweet Laurel lives up to her name. A baker who shares our mindset that feeding people is the best way to show that you love them and it's no coincidence that giving gifts (of delicious treats!) is her love language. Laurel shared that she and her husband baked 300 loaves of banana bread for their wedding guests! We asked her to tell us more of her story and talk about why Sweet Laurel Bakery came into existence.
"I was a school teacher for five years. It was a pretty stressful environment, I was put under a lot of pressure as a teacher and it wasn’t something that I could handle emotionally or physically it turned out," Laurel said. She'd lost 40 pounds with no explanation, so she quit her job and decided to take the year off to rest and heal. Laurel began eliminating foods from her diet that didn't make her feel right. For example, she noticed if she ate starches or bread, she'd feel terrible for days afterward. Her doctors diagnosed her with an autoimmune disease and a pretty significant hormone imbalance.
Laurel began reading and educating herself about her illness. She immediately started experimenting with new ingredients like date paste, coconut flour, and 100% cocoa to make her own chocolate chips. Soon she was developing new recipes from these ingredients.
Laurel has five brothers who she would bake cookies for every other day when they were growing up. Baking wasn't something her mother enjoyed, so Laurel took on the role of baking for her brothers and it was engrained in her identity early in life. Later in life, after her diagnosis, she says there wasn't much time to sit around and be sad, "I really got right into it immediately and basically kept that (baking) up with the ingredients that I could use."
- Preheat oven to 350 and prepare donut molds by greasing generously with coconut oil.
- Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Add the wet to the dry and stir.
- Pour into donut molds. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool, then top with Vegan Caramel and toasted coconut.
One day she brought one of her cakes to Claire Thomas' house and Claire was instantly blown away by the flavor. "Claire told me she was sick of all these gluten and dairy free products tasting like crap, she really encouraged me," Laurel said. The two started hosting events last April and launched their website in May. Laurel says neither of them expected Sweet Laurel to take off in the way it has.
There are many elements and layers to Sweet Laurel Bakery — the products, thoughtfully developed recipes, workshops, but most importantly education is the foundation of Sweet Laurel. They are pulling inspiration from Laurel's years spent teaching with the momentum they have now, and working to get a commercial kitchen to use for hosting classes.
"A big part of my passion is education, so what I really enjoy is teaching people that they can do it on their own. I want to have a place for people to come and learn," Laurel said.
There is something very courageous in leaving tradition behind, even if it's not your first choice. Laurel has done that with grace and intention by crafting recipes and products that align with what her body can handle. Now she wants to share that with others. It was nerve wracking and a little scary to trade out sugar and butter for maple and coconut flour, but Laurel taught us that it can not only be done but, it can also taste delicious.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Grease the sides of a 6 inch cake pan with coconut oil. Cut out a circular piece of parchment paper and place inside the cake pan.
- Melt the chocolate and coconut oil over low heat. Allow to cool.
- Whisk together the maple syrup, coconut or almond milk, eggs/ egg yolks, and vanilla extract. Pour the chocolate mixture in and whisk again.
- Pour batter into the pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove cake from the oven and allow to cool. Allow cake to set in refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. Top with whipped cream and serve.