For those who have dabbled with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, it’s not always as easy as it sounds — not as simple to rise to the challenge, to some extent.
There are also the folks that have either always been meat-free or have recently made changes to their diets due to health reasons, personal preferences, or simply for the animals’ sake.
Although, it doesn’t have to be a challenge when food made without the typical ingredients tastes so dang delicious.
Houlden’s Rise Above, which began as a micro-bakery is in its final stages of becoming a full-fledged, brick-and-mortar vegan bakery at 5029 E. Fifth St.
Owner and baker Hannah Houlden started the bakery as a solo project in the summer of 2019 under cottage law — something that allows bakers to use their home appliances to sell baked goods to the public. Chances are you’ve seen Houlden’s treats for sale at coffee shops like Presta, Cartel Coffee Lab, and Coffee Times. Two years later, and now that the goods are at eight locations around town, it makes sense to expand into retail.
“The way the bakery has grown organically in such a short time has been overwhelming and incredible,” said Houlden. “I’ve met so many wonderful people through my baking, and I’ve never felt more assured that what I’m doing matters and makes a difference for those around me.”
Over the last couple of years, there’s no doubt her treats have been a success. Houlden believes that her products have “struck a chord locally” because there’s a familiarity in what so many are used to consuming.
“There is less of a divide between traditional and vegan baking than conventional thinking may lead you to believe,” said Houlden. “I lean heavily on traditional techniques and with great vegan butter alternatives to prop us up — there’s no reason to get their dairy-filled counterparts when given the choice.”
Houlden also strives to educate those that are curious about what’s included in her recipes, calling these tidbits “vegan insider tips” — things to look out for in your own vegan baking.
“Vegan sugars are easy to find,” said Houlden. “I still use cane sugar but it hasn’t been bleached using bone char. The typical confectioner’s glaze and shellac (found on sprinkles and candies) are made from beetles, and certain dyes are made from or tested on animals.”
Fortunately, there are simple solutions like AmeriColor gels — vegan safe — and Sweetapolita Sprinkles clearly marks its vegan products and offers wholesale for easy ordering.”
So, what will it be when you first stop by the new location? Vegan croissants, bear claws, Poptarts, or turnovers? Luckily, you can have one of each because the new space is large enough to allow an abundance of warmth in the bellies of many.
“I’ve really built this little bakery up with my own sweat, blood, and tears,” said Houlden. “To keep up with demand, I’ve worked 90+ hours a week since October. We’ll be bringing in at least two full-time bakers along with the part-time help I already have. My partner quit his job last December to keep things moving at the bakery, and he’ll be taking a roll in the kitchen as soon as he’s done with our bakery renovations.”
The new location on Fifth Street is expected to be finished and ready to open sometime in April. On top of that, Houlden is adding a tenth wholesale location soon after that.
With the expansion comes more treats, too.
“I’m looking forward to the new items a commercial kitchen will allow us to expand to,” said Houlden. “Enriched bread, custard tarts, cakes by the slice, cheesecakes, doughnuts, cronuts, and more. Our bean-to-bar chocolate program will be up and running sometime this year, too.”
“We will always be a 100% vegan space, we make this choice first and foremost for the animals. We don’t view it as a sacrifice or a dietary restriction but as a lifestyle that coincides with our ethics. That said, we want to feed people of all types and restrictions.”
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