MANCHESTER, Md. — With a swift yet steady hand, Allyson Hadel makes intricate swirls of icing on the side of a cake. She decorates like a pro, despite only recently getting into baking.
"I didn’t bake hardly at all until Abigail was diagnosed with her food allergies," she said.
Abigail is Hadel's six-year-old daughter, a bright and spunky girl with severe food allergies including peanuts, tree nuts, dairy milk and sesame. She use to be allergic to eggs as well but Hadel said Abigail has grown out of it.
"Its a lot of reading labels at the grocery or online before I buy something and going out and being able to talk to somebody to make sure the food is safe."
It also means Abigail usually can't eat the food or desserts when she goes to a party.
"She handles it like a champ but there are times where I can tell she’s disappointed and wants to do what the other kids are doing," said Hadel.
It inspired Hadel to learn how to bake and use ingredients to make what their family calls "Abby-safe" cakes and cupcakes. Word quickly spread about her ability to bake desserts that cater to those with food allergies and other requests began to pop up.
"I can’t have eggs, what can you do? Or I’m on a Whole 30 diet what can I have? And I’ve been able to finagle different recipes and use different ingredients," said Hadel.
She will use powdered monk fruit in icing to replace sugar. Extracts, like almond and hazelnut, give a nutty flavor to desserts without using actual nuts. She says there is a lot of trial and error but she's always up for the challenge.
"Its a lot of listening and interacting and figuring out what they can and cannot have, but its not impossible."
Hadel started a baking business, Treats by Allyson, that she runs out of her kitchen. The biggest reward for her is when clients react to their special cake or cupcakes the way Abigail did the first time she was served the same cake at a party.
"She looked at me and she said ‘Mama, I’m eating the same cake as everybody else!’ And as a mom, there’s not a better moment than seeing your kid completely excited and happy and normal."
"My heart lies with the kids and making sure the kids are able to be happy and get those same feelings ours gets when she can have birthday cake."