With two locations, all the staff at Lakeview Bakery are experts in specialty diets

Gluten-free isn’t just a fad anymore, it’s a way of life for many people in Calgary. From those with celiac disease (gluten-intolerant) to health-conscious folk introducing new grains or seeds into their diets, gluten-free foods have moved their way from specialty sections and shops onto the menus of mainstream restaurants and into our daily lives. At the forefront of this growing industry in our city, is the family-owned Lakeview Bakery.

Twenty-six years ago, British baker Brian Hinton began Lakeview Bakery along with business partner, Mustafa Bilen. Originally an organic community bakery at the end of Crowchild Trail, Lakeview Bakery grew to become a British-themed bakeshop in 1990. It wasn’t until 1996 when the Calgary Chapter of the Canadian Celiac Association approached Hinton that the bakery began to produce organic gluten-free goods. Its products are now found at Calgary Co-op, Save-On Foods Mrs Green’s Natural Market, as well as Community Natural Foods and Planet Organic.

“Gluten-free has gone from being celiac-classified products to the other diets and now there are all kinds of reasons people go gluten-free,” says Hinton.

Before Lakeview Bakery began producing gluten-free goods it focused on the low-carb craze of the late 90s and early 00s. Hinton even had the opportunity to meet the main man behind the low-carb diet, Robert Atkins, in Los Angeles.

“At that time, my customers had been bugging me to make a low-carb bread but I couldn’t figure out how,” explains Hinton on the changing mentalities of his clientele. “But when I saw his products and read his ingredient list, suddenly the whole-thing clicked. The low-carb was just monster. We sold 3,500 loaves of bread a week.”

Customer demand is also how Lakeview Bakery began to bake gluten-free goods. Once asked by the celiac association to produce breads that its members could eat, Hinton began experimenting with different flours and ingredients to produce a range of gluten-free goods. Today, to preserve the integrity of the gluten-free items and avoid cross-contamination, all of the 200 gluten-free products are made at the bakery’s 90 Avenue SW location, which opened in 2011.

“Now, there’s more requests for non-GMO soy-free, corn-free and yeast-free,” says Joanne Schmidt, who is in charge of the bakery’s marketing and development. “Although it’s gluten-free, it’s much more than that. It’s people who need vegan and gluten-free, or corn-free and gluten-free. That’s where, although we are doing a lot of the baking, we’re bringing in products to meet those needs. We can’t do it all!”

Photos by Ingrid Kuenzel

It goes without saying, that to work at Lakeview Bakery you need to be knowledgeable about allergies and special diets to best serve your customers. Lakeview Bakery now stocks products from Judy G’s, Sweets From the Earth and El Peto, among many more brands to meet this demand. However, they are always searching out how to best use different flours and ingredients to make goods to fill the desires of customer’s appetites.

“We started making cinnamon buns due to people asking for them, and now we’re onto scones,” says Schmidt. “Our kitchen tries out new things all the time. Our bakers learn by experimenting.

For ideas, Schmidt says the team regularly attends gluten-free trade shows and even reads blogs to gather insights into trends. One of the biggest trends Schmidt says she sees is people who aren’t celiac or gluten-intolerant, removing it from their diets anyway.

“Although specific people with an illness can’t eat gluten, I think a lot of the alternative grains have health benefits that people are looking for,” she says.

“We make a gluten-free carrot cake that everyone loves. Although it might be because it’s covered in cream cheese icing!” she laughs. “But, we’ve had people who aren’t gluten-free come in asking for it.”

If you’re looking for traditional baking, Lakeview’s original store still carries gluten-ful baked goods including their popular power flax bread and mountain man cookies. All of their baking is organic with the majority of ingredients locally sourced, including grains from Highwood Crossing Farms, cheeses from the Springbank Cheese and flours from Saskatchewan.

With a lot of gluten-free recipes under their belt, Lakeview Bakery is now focusing on alternative (yet still gluten-free) grains like quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat and millet. Schmidt adds that it’s easy to make desserts like Nanaimo bars gluten-free, but delicate baked goods like croissants are still in the process of being perfected.

“That’s what has made our business successful — our willingness to try things, “ she adds. “Even if it doesn’t work the first or second or tenth time, eventually we’ll get a recipe perfect and then people will keep coming back for it.”

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