Retired and tired of pricey gluten-free options, she started making affordable mixes that taste good:July 23, 2019
Retired and tired of pricey gluten-free options, she started making affordable mixes that taste good
When RoseMary Oliveira retired, she was excited to have free time. Then she realized she had a bit too much time on her hands, and a business beckoned.
Oliveira eats gluten-free, and by then she had learned to navigate the foods she could and couldn’t eat. Years of trying just about every gluten-free baking mix she could find also taught her that you could spend a lot of money on gluten-free mixes but still not have a decent dessert.
RoseMary Oliveira created Community Bakers to share good-quality, reasonably price gluten-free baking mixes. (Photo: Submitted photo)The Riverwest resident decided to create a better baking mix, one that consumers following a gluten-free diet could enjoy at a reasonable price. Testing recipes on everyone in her community inspired the name of her business: Community Bakers.
She’s a one-woman operation at this point, creating the recipes, packaging the mixes and selling them online at community-bakers.com.
You’ll also find her sampling and selling her four mixes (carrot cake, deep chocolate crinkle cookie mix, Tuscan rosemary focaccia and Northwoods skillet cornbread) at the Milwaukee Public Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and at the Westown Market at Zeidler Union Square, 301 W. Michigan St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays. Mixes are priced between $4.50 and $6.50.
Carrot cake is one of four mixes offered so far by Community Bakers. (Photo: Submitted photo)
Pies, pizza and her path
I’m not one of those people who can say I baked with my mother and grandmother. They were both the worst bakers ever. I was in my 20s and 30s when I started baking.
When I moved to Milwaukee, I had a friend whose mother made the best pies you’d ever tasted. My grandmother made pies, and they were the worst. I said “Oh, this is pie.”Then I was diagnosed with celiac seven years ago. I had to rethink everything. Now I can’t eat pizza, and that was a real disappointment. I used to make great pizza. It is the thing I miss the most.
When I had to stop eating wheat, I started to experiment with what I could buy in the store. I bought mixes, and they were like cardboard and tasted terrible. In addition, they were very expensive. I started experimenting on my own.
I had a long career in finance and business, grant writing. I retired, and I am having a good time not doing anything. Then I got bored. I started thinking of things I could do. I need to do a business that makes baking mixes that taste good and don’t cost a million bucks. I officially started Community Bakers in October 2018.
Creating Community Bakers
We don’t actually bake anything. The community bakes. You get the mix, you bake it. I consider my community all the people who help me with my recipes, and there are a lot of them. There’s a teenage boy who lives across the street who is eating all my mistakes and my leftovers when I make too much of something. All my nieces and nephews are gluten-free. This is a family genetic thing, so I shipped things out to them to try.
Finding her flour
I use no coconut flour. No bean flour. What doesn’t work for me is any kind of bean flour, no fava beans. I’ve never had good luck with chickpea flour. Blends are the best thing. Rice flour and various starches, like cornstarch, really gets you to something that tastes good.
Failures and flops
I made all these different pizza crusts. It was such a waste of materials, not even worth eating. Pizza crust needs to be chewy and yeasty. I still haven’t cracked that code.
I tried piecrusts. Forget it. I don’t know if it is me, but everyone online says, “This recipe is the best piecrust.” None was even close to a piecrust. I no longer attempt those. I make crisps instead.
Tuscan Rosemary Focaccia works well as bread and is also good toasted and made into a sandwich. (Photo: Submitted photo)
Right now I have four mixes. Tuscan rosemary focaccia works really well as bread, and it is really good toasted and made into a sandwich. Like everything else that is gluten-free, though, it doesn’t have long shelf life.
Making an investment
My biggest investment is a bag filler. I did find a small filler for bags made by some nice guy who is in Indiana and he is retired and saw a need. It is perfect for a business my size.
I also want, and don’t yet have, a very small industrial mixer. When blending each bag, each bag has to have the same amount of leavening in it. I’m using right now a large Kitchen Aid to blend, and I can do only four or five mixes at a time.
What inspires her
I want to help people. I don’t want gluten-free mixes to be so expensive. Celiacs and people with gluten problems, they cross all lines, race, income levels. But when you go to buy mixes, the cost is prohibitive for many people.
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https://www.jsonline.com/story/life/food/fork-spoon-life/2019/06/28/gluten-free-baking-mixes-sprung-diagnosis/1551081001/Contact:RoseMary Oliveira, Owner(414) 551-4774