A FAMILY member’s health condition proved the spur that led to a Hambleton mum winning an award for her baking skills.
Susan Connelly was trying to find a gluten-free cake for her father-in law’s 70th birthday, after he had just been diagnosed with Coeliac disease.
Struggling to find anything suitable, she decided to bake her own, and this was the start of a thriving business and a top award in the North West Fine Food competition.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease in which gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye, triggers an immune reaction.
For people with the disease, simply eating gluten is likely to damage the lining of the small intestine and sometimes other parts of the body.
Symptoms range from mild to severe, and can include persistent or unexplained gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, recurrent stomach pain, cramping or bloating, tiredness, headaches, mouth ulcers and even hair loss.
Now mum-of-two Susan has turned what used to be a hobby into a full time business, which she has named Heavenly Bakes.
Not only that, but her mature cheddar and onion gluten-free quiche has scooped a top award in the Fine Foods competition.
It was a big boost for the 52-year-old, who has been working hard to develop her recipes and produce – which she sells at food fairs and local farmers’ markets, as well as taking orders from regular customers.
She said: “I was delighted my quiche won an award, especially as there were 370 entries.
“And I was really pleased to see a gluten-free product winning, as it helps raise awareness.
“When I go to food fairs, people are surprised the whole range of products I have on offer are all gluten-free – they’re used to just having a little corner.
“In the supermarket, generally, what people can buy is more expensive and quite processed. I use all local produce.
“My products are fresh and they can also be frozen too.
“I have a variety of savouries, which I started just before Christmas, quiches, pies – such as leek and potato – that’s alongside all the sweets, various cakes, such as carrot cake, tea breads, cookies, and a new addition I just brought in, strawberry short-cakes with cream – this has been flying off the shelves.”
Susan – who was in the catering business for 20 years, working as a school cook, and at various cafes, restaurants and pubs – gave up her fulltime job as a children’s-wear buyer to focus on her baking business.
She said: “After looking for a gluten-free cake for my father-in-law, who had just been diagnosed with Coeliac disease,
“I baked it myself. Once he was diagnosed and his diet changed, it made such a difference.
“Nobody could tell the difference with the cake. That’s my aim – it’s as close as possible to the regular version.”
For more information on the illness visit www.coeliac.org.uk and for details of Susan’s business e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.