Both Hoyt and Nicholson where diagnosed with celiac disease in 2005 and began experimenting with swapping out the traditional wheat flour in their family recipes with alternative ingredients such as rice bran.
“Eating gluten-free is trendy right now, but that’s not why we’re here,” said Nicholson as she served up a green smoothie prepared with piña colada, almond milk, chia seeds and spinach. “We’ve always been our own consumer. If we want to eat in a healthy way then others must, too.”
Unrefined Bakery is much more than a glorified, gluten-free version of higher profile chain bakeries like Sprinkles.
It’s more of a grocery store where patrons can stock up on items like five-grain sandwich bread, pizza crust, hamburger buns, muffins, snacks and cakes. All of these offerings boast gluten-free, organic, unrefined sugars and heart-healthy fats.
Many of their items are also egg and dairy-free and there is no soy or corn to be found in any of their many products.
That same allergy consciousness has been incorporated into their expanding grab-and-go coffee and sandwich bar including organic, fair trade, locally roasted coffee and green tea. Their full-service coffee bar has wonderful alternate options for milk such as almond and coconut as opposed to the traditional soy, and the protein added to their all-organic, no-sugar-added smoothies is hemp rather than whey or soy.
Melissa McMillan, a recent Texas Tech University graduate and current San Francisco, Calif. resident has family she frequently visits in Allen.
“It’s so hard to find gluten-free treats and groceries – even at health-food stores in California – that whenever I’m in the Metroplex I make it a point to go to Unrefined and stock up,” she said. “Their cookies and food bars are to-die-for and I always get a couple of their gluten-free pizza crusts. A lot of it is vegan so it’s just a dream come true!”
McMillan is not the only one who feels this way, though.
“The level of reward we get from this is just awesome,” Hoyt said. “We have moms come in with kids who are six or seven years old and have never tasted birthday cake. We get to watch them taste birthday cake for the first time! We get to see their lives change.”
Surprisingly, both Nicholson and Hoyt have no professional culinary training between them. Originally from Northeast Oklahoma, they both grew up in the restaurant business and both women earned business degrees.
Nicholson moved to Dallas seven years ago to utilize her degree in finance and Hoyt followed for a job with a bank in McKinney.
“It was during the height of the recession that we quit our jobs to really do this,” Hoyt said. The result of that risky decision is a bakery that might as well be traditional in every sense – the food is delicious and the staff could not be friendlier.
As far as the recipes go, some are takes on traditional family recipes, such as their heavenly almond rusks, a treat similar to biscotti. Others, like the white cake, is a result of extensive trial and error.
“It took Taylor months and months to get that recipe where it is now,” Hoyt said. Hoyt tells us her dream was always to run her own bakery. When asked if this endeavor has exceeded her expectation she said, “Only the love. That’s the only thing we didn’t expect.”
In the months ahead, Unrefined Bakery will launch more advertising, continue to grow their Paleao Bread line and expand their hours of operation.
They will be looking for new employees and baristas to help accommodate their ever-increasing customer base. Those without food allergies are more than welcome to come in and check out their fare as well!