Hastings resident Helene Godin quit her longtime career as a successful attorney about a year ago with no set plan for the future.
"I loved being a lawyer until I didn't anymore," said Godin, whose resume includes Bloomberg LP and NBC television. "I knew I wanted to do something here—in our community—so I came up with the idea of a gluten-free, dairy-free bakery."
This Saturday, Godin will officially start selling the product of her year-long culinary journey out of her picturesque storefront on Warburton Avenue.
"I call it 'By the Way Bakery' because I want people to come here because our cakes and cookies are flavorful, beautiful and delicious," she said. "I want them to come for the taste and then tell their guests, 'Oh, by the way, it's gluten-free.'"
Godin spent the better part of the last 12 months scouring the Internet and cookbooks for gluten-free recipes and then turned her kitchen into a virtual dessert laboratory, trying every combination of gluten and dairy-free ingredients imaginable.
"I have always loved feeding people," she said, laughing. "I love flavor combination and beautiful presentation—but everything I know is self-taught."
Her final flour base contains rice flours, starches and sorghum, the alternative grain, she said, "that tastes most like wheat."
All of her ingredients are certified gluten-free, which means that even people with celiac disease can partake in By the Way's unique and sumptuous desserts.
"I make a fantastic orange-almond cake," she said proudly. "And a spiced carrot cake that's to die for."
Godin said she tried at least 40 variations of blueberry muffins before deciding on the final recipe.
"I've been pedaling pastries for months," she said. "People got really into tasting, providing such vivid detail. But the best tasters were people who told me they didn't like something, because I knew they were being honest and would tell me when I finally did get it right."
Godin got especially excited when she met a woman at a party who had two daughters with gluten allergies. "My whole vision for this bakery is making it so that people with wheat allergies don't have to miss out on dessert—or eat something that doesn't taste as good as what everyone else is having."
With her opening just around the corner, Godin is confident her dogged determination to get each recipe perfect paid off. "I will definitely keep experimenting and add new items to the menu," she said. "The experimenting is so much fun."
Here's a sampling of By the Way Bakery's menu:
SMALL TREATS—Just big enough to put a smile on your face.
Brownies… an indulgent, no-holds-barred, decadent brownie because, for some, chocolate is the only flavor that really matters
Chocolate Chip Cookies… like your favorite aunt used to make. Okay, maybe a little better
Coconut Macaroons… with a hint of caramel, dipped in Belgian chocolate
LAYER CAKES – Nothing says “let’s have dessert” more than a freshly sliced layer cake. Custom combinations are available, but here are some of our favorites:
Spiced Carrot… made with fresh carrot, covered in orange ginger frosting and dusted with candied pecans
Classic chocolate… a moist cocoa-based cake with old-fashioned chocolate frosting
Coconut Cloud… a luscious coconut layer cake covered in coconut flakes
SPECIALTY DESSERTS— These are the cakes your guests will remember for a long time.
Mediterranean Orange Almond Cake… a wonderfully moist, dense and aromatic flourless cake
Mocha Walnut Torte… an elegant dessert with rich chocolate flavor and deep notes of espresso, covered in chocolate ganache
By the Way Bakery is located at 574 Warburton Avenue in Hastings-on-Hudson. The bakery will open officially on Saturday, May 7 at 11 a.m.