Coeliac diagnosis inspires launch of cake business

A former finance assistant has developed an online cake-making business after being diagnosed with coeliac disease.

Charlotte Humphreys, who launched The Cake Alchemist last May, was taught to bake as a child by her mother and grandmother and began experimenting again when doctors confirmed the autoimmune disorder.

The 29-year-old (pictured right), who has unrelated allergies to dairy and eggs, began scouring the internet for recipes she could modify to accommodate her dietary needs when she struggled to find anything to eat in supermarkets and at events.

Friends and family began making requests and the business grew organically.

One of the orders Humphreys has since scored was from former Real Housewives of Cheshire star Leanne Brown and her husband, ex-Manchester United footballer Wes. She created a gluten-free red velvet cake, a sea-themed underwater treasure chest, for the couple’s daughter, who was celebrating her 12th birthday.

Humphreys whips up creations for vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free clients from her home kitchen in Rugby, Warwickshire. She sells wedding cakes from £150, bespoke cakes from £45 as well as minimum order cake pops, which start at £1.50 each, and cupcakes from £2.

The business recently won two silver accolades in the Free From Awards 2019 for its bespoke celebration cake – beating the likes of Asda, Doves Farm, Tesco and Marks & Spencer – as well as best product from a start-up business.

“I’m still in shock to be perfectly honest,” Humphreys told British Baker. “I never imagined in a million years this would happen. Everything has moved so quickly in the past six months, I’m still trying to catch up with the reality of it all.”

Humphreys chose to brand the business as The Cake Alchemist after her daughter described the cake-making process as magical. 

“It has given me a way to help others with coeliac disease and other allergies to enjoy the small things like a slice of cake at a birthday party or a wedding without having to be left out,” the baker added.

Humphreys has since been asked to run baking classes for people who have been diagnosed with food allergies, an option she is considering, and is also hoping to expand so she can produce the cakes on a daily basis.

Coeliac disease is thought to affect one in 100 people in the UK, but the average time to diagnosis is 13 years.

“Coeliac UK’s Awareness Week this year is from 13-19 May,” Norma McGough, Coeliac UK director of policy, research and campaigns said.

“We urge anyone who has been given a diagnosis of IBS without being tested to ask their GP to test them for coeliac disease. However, it is essential to keep eating gluten until all tests are completed, otherwise these tests may give a false negative result.”

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