Gluten-free bakery opens to rave reviews

Sillycakes Gluten-Free Bakery has attracted a devoted following in Cumberland.

Sillycakes Bakery owner Sarah Vallintine displays a gluten-free wedding cake.

It’s been estimated that as many as 50 per cent of Canadians have at least a mild insensitivity to gluten. Upwards of 30,000 people in the Comox Valley, then, should be happy to know that a 100 per cent gluten-free bakery has just opened in Cumberland.

Sillycakes Gluten-Free Bakery has already managed to attract a devoted following. These followers include more than 500 fans of its Facebook page, where owner Sarah Vallintine regularly posts her daily selection of baked goods and fans can pre-order their gluten-free goodies.

“There are a lot of us in the Valley who can’t eat gluten, and many more who are experimenting with a gluten-free diet,” says Vallintine. “But just because you can’t eat wheat doesn’t mean you don’t deserve great baked goods.”

While timing has certainly been a factor in Sillycakes’ quick success, the true ingredient seems to be the sheer quality of its offerings. In a category overrun with dry bread and tasteless cookies, Sillycakes Bakery has somehow found a way to create gluten-free baked goods that are every bit as moist and delicious as their wheat-filled counterparts.

“I was given one of her chocolate cupcakes with chocolate buttercream icing and it was absolutely phenomenal,” says Jason Waters, who it should be noted has no aversion to gluten and doesn’t necessarily avoid wheat. “Gluten-free or not, those things are yummy!”

A quick glance of Sillycakes’ Facebook page reveals similar comments, such as “Best gluten-free cake ever” and “I would never know they were gluten-free.”

Vallintine likes to recall a recent email from a customer describing how head-over-heels her father was for one of her homestyle apple pies. When told it was gluten-free, he replied, “What’s gluten-free?”

For celiacs, who can’t process gluten, and others avoiding wheat in their diets, it all sounds too good to be true. So what’s the secret?

“If I gave you my recipes they wouldn’t be a secret now, would they?” remarks Vallintine coyly.

Vallintine, who was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2003 and has been experimenting with gluten-free baking for a decade, will only say that she’s created her own special blend of gluten-free flours.

“I actually wrestled with the idea of not calling Sillycakes a gluten-free bakery for risk of turning off people who don’t eat gluten-free,” she says. “I’ve had so many people, many of whom eat wheat, say that my cakes and cupcakes are the best they’ve ever had.”

Sillycakes Bakery does custom orders for gluten-free cakes, scones, bagels and more. Order at www.sillycakes.ca, call 250-703-3175 or stop by the bakery for a daily selection of fresh-baked breads and treats.

It’s located at 2699 Dunsmuir Ave., inside Carmie’s Café.

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