While celiac disease sufferers sometimes fret that the sudden popularity of gluten-free foods could obscure the gravity of their condition – “this is our medicine,” the founder and president of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness recently explained to the Philadelphia Inquirer – a local gluten-free baker says better-tasting medicine never hurt anybody.
“It is a serious condition, but life is to be enjoyed,” says Julia Ingram, who was diagnosed with severe gluten intolerance while enrolled in pastry school. “I want to make things that are delicious.”
Ingram acknowledges that many of her customers at Sweet Radish Bakeshop, scheduled to open next Monday on the corner of Spring and St. Philip streets, won’t be under doctor’s orders to eat her salted caramel brownie cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and banana bundt cake. But by exposing eaters without gluten sensitivities to the diversity of gluten-free baking, she hopes to raise local awareness of mandated gluten-free diets.
Currently, Ingram describes the reception she receives in local restaurants as “a mixed bag.”
“I’ve had restaurants really accommodate me, and some are a little unclear about what has gluten and what doesn’t,” she says.
Prior to relocating to Charleston earlier this year with her boyfriend, Andy Henderson, a Charleston native who’s chef at the forthcoming Edmund’s Oast, Ingram lived in San Francisco. “I was doing gluten-filled baking,” Ingram recalls. After being forced to give up wheat and other gluten-carrying grains, she figured she’d hang up her apron. But once she moved here, she started experimenting with buckwheat, brown rice and chestnut flour.
In addition to serving coffee, sweets, vegan options and savory tarts, Ingram also hopes to provide baked goods to restaurants which need pastries produced in a kitchen free of cross-contamination.
“I’m very excited to open my doors,” she says.
Sweet Radish Bakeshop, 207A St. Philip St., will be open from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, visit sweetradishbakeshop.com.