Today’s guest “Babysitter Blog” post is from Celine, founder of Karma Baker – an incredible bakery in Los Angeles. Fortunately for me (and a little bit dangerously, too!), their products are carried at Erewhon Market, an all-organic grocery store just down the road from where I live! Although all her cupcakes, cakes, cookies and baked goods are first and foremost absolutely delicious, they’re ALSO 100% vegan, free of gluten, dairy and other common (and uncommon) allergens. Check out Celine’s inspiring post to find out why!
And as a special bonus for my readers, she included her famous chocolate fudge brownie recipe below!
Stay tuned next week for my annual Holistic Holiday Gift Guide!
By Celine Ikeler
At our bakery, people ask me all of the time why I started Karma Baker. Of course there were many inspirations; loving to bake delicious food, the increasing prevalence of food allergies, my own food allergies! But the story that most illustrates the Karma Baker mission, the story that never fails to inspire me again every time I tell it, is the Sofia Story.
In 2003, we moved in next door to Sofia. A little girl with so many allergies that if she ate any of 20 everyday foods she would go into anaphylactic shock (which could involve throat closing and possible death). Eating for her was really scary. And for all of us around her. Her mother was vigilant about what she ate and how it was prepared. Zero cross contamination. We went to many family and neighborhood events together. Events around food, sharing and love. Her mother would make her something special to eat that was “Sofia friendly”, that’s what we called it. Her mother Maria, tried very hard. Learned a bit about baking and cooking gluten-free, dairy-free and egg free. But it was often something boring, bland, hard, not exactly appetizing and frankly, kind of disgusting. The other kids did not want any part of it. Sofia was glad to have something to eat, but definitely felt left out. She could not partake in the fun and delicious foods that everyone else was enjoying. Naturally it was tough for her, but it was actually really hard for me too. I could feel her exclusion like it was my own. It was too much.
It became my mission to bake something for Sofia, that was so good the other kids would want to eat it with her.
I wanted to bake her something that looked as delicious and tasted as delicious as everybody else’s… So that everybody else wanted what Sofia had too.
After some trial and lots of errors, I created brownies out of the few ingredients she could actually eat… they not only looked like “real” brownies, they actually tasted amazing. I couldn’t believe it. I brought them over to Sofia’s house in a pan and put them in the center of the kitchen table. I hadn’t yet said anything about them being special for Sophia when she came into the kitchen. She saw the brownies and I quickly saw her eyes shift away -knowing that these couldn’t possibly be “OK” for her. And when I saw that look… I said “Sofia, you can eat these! They are “Sofia-friendly”. And her eyes widened. She looked to me and then to her mom and she asked “really??” and her mom looked at me and she asked “really??”
And I got to answer yes!
It was an emotional moment for us. It was just a brownie, but it was so much more than that. It was relief from a little girl’s suffering! In that moment I realized that my baking obsession has always been about sharing joy, celebration and love. It’s about gathering and nourishing. And the smiles that being presented with a cupcake can bring. No one should ever be left out of that. Sophia had been left out and this brownie was making her feel included, it was actually healing her. That’s when the seeds of the Karma Baker mission were planted. If I could do this for Sophia I’d like to do this for everyone.
In the short time Karma Baker has been baking there have been many great stories of children healing from exclusion, and each one is precious to us. From the little boy who came in for his first donut, to the groom whose first cake ever, was his wedding cake that we made for him. There are many people that rely on our bakery that have stories of their own, stories of feeling alone, being isolated in their own food journey. The isolation is real, whether it’s celiac disease, food allergies, or to stand outside the norm and choose a food lifestyle like veganism. Above all, we are left out of the mainstream diets of wheat, dairy, eggs and meat at every place-setting.
I’m sharing our current brownie recipe. Sofia’s original recipe was good but as with all artistry, baking is about tweaking until it’s perfect. This is the one we use at Karma Baker everyday. The perfect vegan and gluten free brownie. That’s what we hear over and over. This recipe has been scaled way down to make a “normal” amount of brownies… Not 280 😉 )
Use the best organic cocoa powder you can find. It’s worth the little extra expense.
Our recipes call for our premixed organic gluten-free Karma Baker flour, which I highly recommend for best results. It has the right amount of xanthan and salt already added in. But you can always use a GF flour blend of your choice. Just be sure there is xanthan added in. There are many good GF blends out there (just not organic or quite as good as ours 😉 )
Celine’s Karma Baker Chocolate Fudge Brownies
- 2 cups Organic Karma Baker baking flour.
- 2 cups Organic Evaporated Cane Juice
- ¾ cup Unsweetened Organic Cocoa Powder
- 1½ tsp baking powder (aluminum free)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup organic coconut oil -melted before measuring. Warm but not hot.
- 1 tsp pure vanilla
- 1 cup warm water
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Prepare a 9×13″ pan with parchment greased with warm coconut oil.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the GF flour, cane juice crystals and sift over the cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
- Gently mix dry ingredients together.
- Add the melted coconut oil and vanilla.
- Give the mix a few stirs.
- Gradually add in the water a ¼ cups at a time.
- Mix until well blended. If using a stand mixer, allow it to blend on med-low speed for 2 minutes.
- Spread evenly in your prepared 9″x 13″ baking pan.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the middle is just set, not jiggly anymore.
- Let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
Karma Baker transforms organic plant-based and gluten free ingredients into extraordinary baked goods everyone loves. Find them at karmabaker.com/locations!