Bayla O’Brien, owner of Bayla’s Patisserie makes beautiful wedding cakes, truffles and desserts. One of her specialties is gluten-free/dairy-free creations that don’t compromise on taste. She takes incredible care on presentation, as you can see in the gorgeous romantic wedding cake she created for a shoot we did at the Paragon Restaurant in the Pearl.
I was a vegan for almost 12 years, and I’m always a little suspicious of dairy-free cake. Not that it doesn’t taste good (let me tell you, the vegan options today are far better than they were in 1989), it just doesn’t taste the same. The consistency is often heavy or cardboard-like, and very unlike its dairy/gluten cousin. What’s so fabulous about Bayla’s cake is that you simply don’t notice a difference. Even without wheat or dairy, it tastes amazing, is fluffy and light, and is just as craveable as any gourmet cake. When I asked her about this, she explained that she had basically studied “flour chemistry” to come up with gluten-free flour mixes that have a similar weight and baking behavior as standard flour. So cool.
I asked her to share more about her company and baking style. Enjoy!
A tiny little something about you as a person:
I am a foodie! I love well prepared and interesting foods made from fresh, quality ingredients and I read cook books the way other people read novels. I am a chocophile – everything is better with dark chocolate!
What inspires the design of your beautiful and tasty creations?
My wedding cakes are a combination of the bride and groom’s ideas and I contribute thoughts to bring the ideas to reality. My desserts and pastries are items I enjoy to make, eat and sometimes reflect my culture/heritage – of course what sells well.
What materials/ingredients do you use?
I have ingredients from all over the world – white chocolate from Israel, fruit purees from France, chestnut puree from Switzerland, dark chocolate from Belgium and America, hazelnuts and chestnut flour from Oregon. I want ingredients that are the best, so that when I modify or create an alternative/food sensitive recipe, the outcome stand up to or surpasses its standard counterpart. Cheap ingredients produce an mediocre end product.
Standard flavors available? ( any you care to highlight?)
People can go to my website to see what is offered. I often create dessert tables specific to the customer, so people can have anything they want for a special occasion, that I have the skill to make. The website has a menu with prices. Almost all the standard cakes can be made wheat free.
A little bit of history about your company:
I organized an International gourmet kosher food festival in 2003. On the survey form I asked if people wanted an upscale non – dairy bakery. I keep kosher and part of the rules is not mixing meat and dairy in one meal. I thought all the non dairy baked goods I had tasted were awful, so I set out to bake a good product. I studied the chemistry aspect of baking, so I would understand how to replace the fat and luscious quality of a dairy baked good. People should be able to eat something that is great and then secondarily meets their food sensitivity needs; not I have to eat this even if it taste mediocre.
I used that background to study the protein content of various flours used in baking (cake, pastry, all purpose) so I could vary non gluten ‘flour’ sources. This allows me to bake a good wheat free item. Many other bakers just use a non gluten all purpose or spelt as a substitute.
When baking for food sensitivities it is important to me to use the best ingredients so the final product mirrors the standard item. So I have ingredients from all over the world: white chocolate from Israel, fruit puree from France, chocolate from Belgium and America etc.
I love providing desserts and a cake for a wedding. It is a special time for the entire family. I find ways to stay in a person’s budget. I make sure I understand their tastes and themes for the event. I use different flavors per tier to please as many as possible. Or, a small wedding cake and a sheet cake to stay in budget.
Of course my favorite is to create a dessert table with fancy options – I get to be creative and show off! I like to use fondant and gum paste flowers on a wedding cake if it fits in the budget. Theme weddings are fun.
Basically, I do my best to get to know and give the bride and groom anything and everything they want – memories of happy times!