After watching her mother struggle for years with food sensitivities, one baker set out to create a strictly gluten-free bakery, so those with sensitivities wouldn’t feel left out. The product: a new Woodstock kitchen that’s gaining notice.
Not everyone who wants a sweet treat can always have one. For many reasons, including sensitivities or lifestyle choices, it may be out of reach.
Pamela Strelcheck understands the dilemma after watching her own mother’s sensitivities for years. It’s a fitting tribute, then, that Strelcheck’s new, standalone bakery, Rosie’s Gluten Free Sweets, 1400 Seminary Ave., in Woodstock, is named for her late mother.
“She suffered her entire life with abdominal issues, and back in the day they just didn’t test for things like gluten sensitivity or Celiac,” says Strelchek. “This is a chance for people to ask me, and I am able to talk about her, which I love to do.”
Strelcheck strives to create truly gluten-free sweets that taste as good as the original. She was inspired when she couldn’t find anything local that was designated as strictly gluten-free. While some kitchens may create gluten-free products, she says, they typically use gluten flours elsewhere in the kitchen.
“They have to use separate pans for baking gluten-free, but it’s still in the same area,” says Strelcheck. “There’s cross-contamination. So, I really wanted to make sure that I avoided the issue at all costs, especially for a Celiac, because they can get very sick and end up in the hospital with cross-contamination.”
Strelcheck began her operation with the help of her daughter-in-law, Asia Karlin, in April 2017. The pair worked from an incubator kitchen in Elgin that was designated gluten-free. Products were then marketed and distributed through local coffee shops, a website and word-of-mouth. This past November, Strelcheck moved her operation to a standalone spot in Woodstock, located just off Illinois Route 47.
The light-pink foyer of the Rosie’s storefront feels like a throwback to a quainter time. Set upon a teal blue chest with large white knobs is a variety of sweet treats, all neatly arranged upon platters big and small.
One of the most popular sweets you’ll find at Rosie’s is the “friand,” something akin to a little French cake.
“They’re different than a traditional-looking round sweet, and they’re a little moister,” says Strelcheck. “They come in different flavors such as blueberry lemon, chocolate and pumpkin.”
Cookies, cakes and cupcakes are also standard fare, but a true customer favorite is the chocolate “whoopie pie,” crafted with a gooey, handmade buttercream sandwiched between two chocolate mini-pies. They’re dusted off with powdered sugar.
Another fan favorite is the ‘nothing but goodness’ cookie, a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan cookie with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cranberries and dark chocolate.
All custom cakes and cupcakes are gluten-, dairy- and soy-free and include a special buttercream frosting. Strelcheck refrains from using artificial dyes, instead using natural food coloring. Knowing her customers’ discerning tastes, she also lists all ingredients online.
Vegan options include all-vegan, gluten-, dairy- and soy-free vanilla cake and chocolate dairy-free cake with buttercream frosting. They’re also available in cupcake form.
Every fall, customers swarm upon the apple cider doughnuts. Strelcheck says she plans to introduce bread in the near future.
“Our sweets are really made with love,” Strelcheck says. “They’re nostalgic sweets. A gluten-free person will taste our doughnuts and tell me, ‘I haven’t had an apple cider doughnut in, like, 5 or 8 years and now I’m able to enjoy the season.’”
Rosie’s Gluten Free Sweets celebrates its official grand opening on May 16.
The bakery is open Thursday noon to 6 p.m., select Fridays and Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.