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Making gluten-free goodies

Taste of Heaven Bakery brings wares to Hy-Vee

January 1, 2012
By TERRENCE DWYER, Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

Taste of Heaven Bakery is making life more festive for area residents - especially those who suffer from celiac disease or have some degree of intolerance for the gluten contained in wheat, barley, rye and possibly oats.

Located at 2918 190th St. in Manson, this new enterprise is licensed by the state of Iowa as a food processing plant. It supplies gluten-free baked products to Hy-Vee grocery stores in Fort Dodge, Humboldt and Webster City and is poised to expand further. Owner Amanda Simacek, who launched the business on Nov.15, said it is primarily a wholesale distributor that does not offer retail, walk-in service. Taste of Heaven Bakery does, however, accept special orders of any size from individuals for both regular and gluten-free baked goods.

"I have a general bakery, but ... specialize in gluten-free products," she said, estimating that about 60 percent of what she sells is gluten-free.

Article Photos

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Kylie Portz, 11, at right, samples a piece of gluten-free banana bread at the Fort Dodge Hy-Vee from the ovens of the Taste of Heaven Bakery in Manson. Owner Amanda Simacek, left, offers many selections of the gluten-free variety.

The range of products offered is extensive.

"Anything from cakes to cookies to candies to baked goods," Simacek said.

The decision to open a specialty bakery grew out a passion she has long pursued.

"It doesn't feel like work," Simacek said. "I've always loved to cook. I've always loved to be in the kitchen. ... I've been baking out of my house for years. I decided to take it to the next level and really push the gluten-free products."

Since her business produces regular baked goods as well as those that are gluten-free, it has been carefully designed to eliminate any possibility of cross-contamination.

"I have half of my shop set up as gluten-free and the other half for everything else." Simacek said. "I have two ovens. One for just gluten-free and one for everything else. Everything is kept separate."

Gluten-free delights produced at Taste of Heaven Bakery that are being sold currently through the Hy-Vee stores include chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter cookies, monster cookies and banana bread. The selection may evolve in the months ahead.

Simacek explained that being gluten-free means the baked product "doesn't contain any wheat-based products."

"I use gluten-free flour," she said.

While part of what Taste of Heaven Bakery sells is targeted at a segment of the population with specific health concerns, the demand is fairly substantial. Simacek said experts estimate that nationwide in the neighborhood of 3 million people are gluten-intolerant. According to the Medical Encyclopedia entry provided on a National Institutes of Health website, people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease have "a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy. The damage is due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and possibly oats."

"More and more people are choosing to go gluten-free," Simacek said. "It's not just the celiac disease any longer. A lot of people can be allergic to gluten"

Even though a major part of her effort is directed at meeting the needs of commercial clients, Simacek stressed that she is also anxious to grow the special-order side of the business.

"If they call in and order something, it is all fresh," she said. "Nothing is frozen. Everything is made fresh. ... It's made especially for you."

Meet the owner

Simacek grew up in Laurens. She graduated from Laurens-Marathon High School in 1998 and then studied at American Institute of Business in Des Moines. She has a 13-year-old son named Kaleb, who is a seventh-grader at Manson Northwest Webster. Her close friend, Ray Blaha, assists her in the bakery. Simacek has lived in Manson for four years.

Contact Terrence Dwyer at (515) 573-2141 or tdwyer@messengernews.net

 
 

 

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