Anne Hoyt and Taylor Nicholson make one of the best brownies you’ll find anywhere. The mother-daughter duo’s desserts, breakfast bars, breads and other baked goods aren’t just tasty, though. They are also organic, nutritious and 100-percent gluten free. The women recently opened Wholesome Foods Bakery in the Lake Highlands area where they’re enjoying an overwhelming reception from the neighborhood.
I understand the need for wholesome, healthy foods, but what’s up with the gluten free?
Taylor Nicholson: There are varying reasons for eating a gluten-free diet. For us it was Celiac disease, a genetic autoimmune disease that makes us sensitive to products with gluten, a protein found in wheat. Anne Hoyt: I discovered I was a Celiac when I was pregnant — sometimes certain conditions or events, such as pregnancy, can cause the disease to surface. Some, like Taylor, are born with it. I had loved to bake, and when I realized I could no longer have gluten, I sort of went into mourning. Gluten is the doughy substance that holds a muffin or a cupcake together, and it is very difficult to bake without it. I tried a few recipes, but threw most of it out. Taylor kept trying, though, and she came up with these really good breakfast bars. TN: It all started because I wanted to make something my sister could eat while she was off at college — she had very few gluten-free options on campus.
When did you decide to go full time into the gluten free baking business?
TN: In November, I quit my job in litigation consulting … AH: And I quit my job in banking in May, and we started giving lots of products away around the holidays, getting feedback, and getting things in order to open up shop, which we did, part time, in May. The original shop in Lake Highlands, where we are only open Tuesdays, is temporary. We are looking for a permanent space, but we know we want to stay in Lake Highlands. The people here have embraced us. It has been wonderful. And we are very excited to have been asked to participate in a national gluten-free forum this summer at the Gaylord Texan resort. We will be the only Dallas business in attendance. We expect to gain a lot of exposure and expand the business in upcoming months.
What’s your secret to making the good-for-you stuff taste so good?
TN: A ton of trial and error. AH: My obsession is making things taste as good as possible, even if that means adding a little extra sugar. Taylor likes things to taste great, but she is also intensely focused on making items as healthy as humanly possible. We make a good brownie, and it’s the healthiest brownie you’ll ever have.
I would imagine a shop like yours would put the fun back in food for someone who can’t have gluten, no?
AH: We already have some good stories — a lady stood in the store one of the first mornings we were open and watched us for several minutes. She approached us and asked, “So what items are gluten free?” to which Taylor and I simultaneously responded, “All of them”, and her eyes just lit up. It was like a kid in the candy store. Food is such a social part of our lives, when you have to eat different from everyone else, you feel separate in a way. TN: We want our food to be something the whole family will love, regardless of their diet.
—Christina Hughes Babb