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Interview: GF Vegan Baker Caitlin Byrne (& Her Fav Sauce Recipe)
I first came to know of Caitlin Byrne and her company, Cup my Cakez, through Instagram. Her beautifully decorated, moist, and delicious looking baked goods will make your mouth water! When it was time to plan my wedding, I knew exactly who I wanted to make my wedding cake and desserts. I had never tried Caitlin’s baked goods before, but I had faith that they were as good as people raved about online. Caitlin and I talked on the phone for an hour, getting to know each other and planning what I would have at my wedding. She patiently explained how she would be able to accommodate my dietary needs with gluten-free and vegan desserts made with all natural ingredients and no refined sugar.
My big day finally came, and the cake and desserts were a hit with both vegan and non-vegan guests. The top layer of my wedding cake, which was a low-glycemic spice cake frosted with coconut cream, was devoured before I got a chance to have a slice for myself! I had guests contact me after the wedding to ask me who made the incredibly delicious gold-flaked rice crispy treats. Caitlin and her desserts were such a hit, I had to introduce her to the Peaceful Dumpling audience. She even shares one of her favorite go-to vegan sauce recipes with us!
Peaceful Dumpling: When did you start Cup My Cakez and what led you to create an all-natural, vegan, gluten-free baking company?
Caitlin Byrne: I started Cup My Cakez at a young age actually, probably only 15 years old! My orders were originally only for friends and family. I always knew I wanted to be in the food industry, but when I went vegan, I wanted to apply and share my talents in the alternative baking world with my close ones first, making sure they enjoyed them before venturing off into the business world.
PD: How did you learn to bake all of these delicious goods?
CB: I went through a culinary program but dropped out when I realized I wasnʼt growing, and I kept getting sick from the ingredients used daily. Essentially, I am self-taught with a bunch of trial and error over the years.
PD: What do you think is the hardest thing about gluten-free, vegan baking?
CB: The hardest part about gluten-free, vegan cooking and baking is the science behind it all. I not only want to create a product that looks, tastes, smells, and feels like the traditional version, but I want it to have a similar nutritional profile as well. It’s not impossible, but it is quite the challenge.
PD: It’s pretty impressive that you run the entire company yourself. Can you describe a typical day from what time you get up to bake until the end?
CB: Haha, yeah I wear all the hats in my business, and I do find it hard 95% of the time! Most of my customers donʼt know that I am a one-woman business, so they expect this immediate experience that is impossible to reproduce with just one human. At the same time, my day-to-day is exactly that of a normal bakery of 6-10 people. I wake up super early and go to bed super late, if at all. I have a list of jobs and components of jobs I need to finish before I fall asleep, and I somehow just make it happen. I try to get the bulk of the baking done the first half of the day; then I focus on decorating, deliveries, and returning emails and phone calls. Sometimes my workday is 10 hours, and other times it can take me 45 hours straight to conquer, depending on the intricacy of order designs and the quantity of orders I receive. I sometimes am in disbelief of what I can accomplish in a day and am constantly inspired and motivated to continue on.
PD: What inspires you in life and in your work? How do you find inspiration for new recipes?
CB: Inspiration behind my recipes has always been based off of what the seasons can provide me and what I literally dream up. The majority of my most popular recipes have been created by me waking up in the middle of the night with certain measurements and ideas in mind. I’ll go straight to my kitchen and start experimenting. I get these cravings and ideas, so I execute them until I am content.
PD: Running your own company is a lot of work! What do you like to do when you’re not working or baking?
CB: As strange as this sounds, I use the rare times I have free to stay in the kitchen and create new recipes. I also love going to concerts, drawing, and simply getting some sleep!
PD: What are some of your favorite vegan and gluten-free desserts and dishes to eat?
CB: Coming from a diverse cultural background, I have been exposed to so many dishes, and I honestly love everything. BUT at the end of the day, anything with pineapple has my heart.
PD: Could you share one recipe for something vegan and gluten free that Peaceful Dumpling readers could make at home?
CB: I would love to share a recipe! I am going to share a very versatile recipe I have that can be prepared thicker for a dip/spread purpose or watered down a tad for sauce/dressing purposes. It is gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free using only whole foods so nothing processed or refined. I use this as a base for sandwiches, nachos, and mac- n-cheese, so I hope you all enjoy!
Master Cream Sauce: (makes about 1 cup- serves around 4-6)
Soy-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan, and Paleo
- 2/3 cup raw cashews
- 2 tablespoons raw organic coconut oil,
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- sea salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste
- juice of one lemon,
- 1/3 cup drinking water (more for thinner sauce)
Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend a few minutes until no hard cashew pieces remain (should be smooth and creamy). If the product is too thick for you, feel free to add more water 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach the right consistency.
I love using this as a sour cream, a hollandaise sauce, and alfredo sauce. The beauty is if you add in a cup of cooked sweet potato, butternut squash, or carrots before you puree, you will get an amazing cheddar cheese sauce ideal for nachos or mac-n- cheese!
PD: Thank you, Caitlin!
Follow Caitlin and her goodies on Instagram @cupmycakez.
Also by Crystal: Spend v. Save Diaries: Pilates Instructor and Fitness Editor
Related: Planning a Vegan Wedding Menu
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Photos: Caitlin Byrne