I have always been a self-proclaimed non-baker. The only thing my mom has ever baked from scratch is sweet potato pie — this is reserved for holidays and is absolutely delicious! My grandma will only make Jiffy cornbread. Every other cake, cookie, or brownie was either store-bought or made from a boxed mix, so I figured it ran in my blood.
Betty Crocker and Mrs. Fields make great treats, but those became off limits when I developed allergies to yeast, dairy, oranges, and apples as an adult. As a bagel-a-day type of person, learning to live with this allergy has been hard. I did a slow step-down of everything — and yeast (and beer) was the last thing I completely eliminated from my new diet.
For the first three years, I didn’t eat desserts or any kind of bread. I was too afraid to end up with swollen lips or hands from touching something with an unknown amount of “citrus juice.” The items I eat can’t have (too much) dairy, though after a few years of margarine, I’ve reintroduced butter. The foods I eat can’t have too much sugar, because sugar feeds yeast.
But a couple of winters ago, I really missed cornbread with my chili. So I decided to make my own — from scratch. It wasn’t great, but it was definitely edible. The next few batches improved, and by the end of the winter I had the recipe memorized!
I knew the next thing I wanted to conquer was biscuits. My husband and I once went to Biscuit Love in Nashville, Tennessee, and we’ve been talking about the breakfast and desserts ever since. My first biscuits came out like hardtack; I will never live those down. We discovered my husband can bake pretty much anything when he made the next batch of biscuits perfectly. (He now makes macarons on random Wednesdays.) It’s taken me an entire year to perfect my baking powder biscuit recipe, but now that I’ve gotten those down, I’m on a baking roll! The best things I’ve made are: Jordan Marsh muffins, blondies, and oatmeal raisin cookies. I’ve even modified a Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe to make it better — we make these with frozen bananas, and they are perfect!
When I first found out I had allergies, I was pretty devastated. (Seriously, no more bagels?!) But I’ve gained some life skills — like reading labels and using my hands to make more food I love.