To Allison Regan, owner of Sweet Cake Bake Shop, baking is more than just a job. It's a mission to help people with special diets. And, it's personal.
Regan was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002. Before that, she had been plagued with health problems including type 1 diabetes, severe anemia and Crohn's disease. She was constantly fatigued, in and out of the hospital for blood transfusions, and facing surgery to have her colon removed.
When she got the diagnosis, Regan said she was relieved to finally know what was causing her health problems, but she was also terrified to eat. She had never heard of celiac disease -- and had no idea how to cook and what to eat.
The treatment for the disease is to remove all gluten products, mainly wheat, from the diet. "All of the familiar foods were gone. I felt very isolated and very alone," she said of the depression that resulted.
As a person who had enjoyed baking, Regan missed being in the kitchen, making treats with her two young kids. Social functions and holidays like Thanksgiving also became difficult to face.
After about a year, she came to terms with her diagnosis and decided it was time to stop avoiding food and start embracing it.
As an environmental science graduate from Berkeley, Regan did not think she would end up becoming a baker. However, when she started experimenting with new ingredients in her kitchen, she found that her background with the scientific process was very useful.
After hundreds of trial-and-error runs, she came up with her own blend of flours, including coconut and almond, for baking delicious treats. She patiently found ways to convert all of her favorites, like her grandmother's carrot cake, her mom's snickerdoodles and her dad's raisin-filled sugar cookies, into gluten-free masterpieces.
She also figured out how to make bread ($8.95/loaf) that isn't dense and crumbly like most gluten-free versions.
In time, Regan started meeting and baking for others who could not eat gluten. By October 2009, she was running an Internet business from www.sweetcakebakeshop.com and shipping to nearly every state. Two months later, in December 2009, she opened her bakery in Kaysville.
Her goal is to create treats that are simple, nostalgic and traditional. Some of the best-selling sweets are chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, peanut butter bars, mint chocolate brownies, and lemon and shortbread crumb bars ($2.50 each). There are many varieties of cupcakes, such as red velvet, coconut and hummingbird ($2.50 each). Popular mini bundt cake flavors include sticky toffee and chocolate ganache ($5.25 each).
More than 100 items rotate daily on the menu. Special orders and bread orders should be called in early since the bakery is quite busy and bread sells out quickly.
Regan said this journey has changed her life. Not only has it been a healing process for her, she also finds great satisfaction in helping others and hearing their stories.
"It is more than just a bakery. It is so fulfilling on so many levels," she said.