Going Gluten-Free with Posh Pop
The new cupcake shop produces all its treats with no gluten, offering options to those with gluten allergies and celiac disease.
It’s an individual kind of thing, a cupcake. It’s a delicate little confection, a sweet treat that’s meant to be enjoyed personally, on a whim. Rarely does sharing enter the conversation when it comes to cupcakes. More often than not, it’s just simply ‘get your own.’
For many suffering from gluten allergies and celiac disease, however, even one of pastry’s most personal desserts has been off limits. With gluten derived from wheat and other grains – wheat flour being the primary flour used in baking bread and pastries – baked goods just haven’t been something to avoid, they’ve been off-limits to anyone with gluten intolerance.
Enter Posh Pop Bakeshop, the new Red Bank via the internet bakery offering a line of delectable baked goods – cupcakes headline the show – that not only come with the promise of being certified gluten free, but good-tasting, too. It’s a niche market, partners Krizha Bayacbacao and Matt Pytel admit, but they’re banking on quality, taste and a commitment to gluten-free baking to make it work.
“A lot of people are traveling out of their way to come here,” Bayacbacao said from behind Posh Pop counter at the space they share with Ricky’s Candy, Cones and Chaos on Broad Street. “It’s really cool, just to see how happy they are. The cutest is when kids (with gluten allergies) come in and realize they can have everything.”
Pytel said they’ve even had a customer cry she was so fond of the prospect of eating baked goods again without any of the gluten allergy-related symptoms.
“People come in and they really don’t know what things taste like anymore; it’s been so long since they’ve had something like a cupcake or a cookie,” he said.
Posh Pop bakes its goods out of a dedicated gluten-free facility. Everything offered, from the cupcakes, to the cake pops, the macarons and cookies are gluten free, each baked with a special – and varying, depending on the item – combination of gluten-free flour.
Really, Pytel said, it’s the only way they feel comfortable advertising their baked goods as entirely gluten free. Though a bit of cross contamination might not even be noticed by all people with gluten allergies, for some, even the smallest bit of flour dust can pose an unwanted health risk.
“As much as you want to clean a kitchen, as much as you think you’ve cleaned a kitchen, you can’t get rid of all of the contaminants,” he said. “It’s a matter of your health; it’s a risk.”
Of course, Pytel would know. The 22-year-old himself suffers from celiac disease and is one of the roughly 10 percent of the nation that suffers some form of gluten allergy.
When he was growing up he said he was in and out of hospitals, falling ill and having doctors unable to find a cause. Often, gluten allergies are difficult to diagnose as the symptoms are often confused with other conditions, he said. For some gluten causes an upset stomach, others with gluten allergies are prone to migraines, and still others become lethargic. For Pytel, a quick-spreading rash became one of the telltale signs that he had come into contact with gluten.
"When you’re younger you feel left out. You go to a birthday party and everyone is having a piece of cake, but you can’t have a piece of cake,” he said. “I don’t want kids to feel left out.”
What made being diagnosed with celiac disease even more difficult for Pytel was a sweet tooth that made having to avoid baked goods that much worse. Having met Bayacbacao – the two have been together for the past six years – proved to be a good thing, especially in the area of desserts.
Determined to find an alternative to wheat flour, the duo has spent the last several years perfecting recipes they believe don’t just make for delicious-tasting gluten-free baked goods, but rather delicious-tasting baked goods.
“I know what non-gluten free cakes taste like; I wanted mine to taste the same,” she said. “I feel like some (with gluten allergies) forget what good food tastes like. They don’t have to. “
Posh Pop is open seven days a week, Monday and Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday noon to 8 p.m. The store is celebrating its grand opening this Saturday. Visit the Posh Pop website at www.poshpopbakeshop.com.