A passion for healthier baking means treats as good as the real thing
Posted on March 20, 2019
Talk to Rachel Conners for a few minutes and one thing will quickly become clear: she is a perfectionist. She admits to this multiple times as she discusses her longtime passion for baking that’s become her career. What started as a love for creating all things sweet at the tender age of 16 has evolved into a lucrative business including a website packed with her own recipes, 169,000 Instagram followers, and a forthcoming cookbook.
Though she began baking indulgent, refined sugar and flour-based recipes, her specialty shifted to treats that replaced those ingredients with some that would be kinder to her family’s food sensitivities. When both her dad and sister adopted a gluten-free diet and a subsequent diagnosis meant her sister had to also eliminate dairy and refined sugar, Conners’ primary taste-testers could no longer eat what she baked. She remembers thinking, “What’s in a baked good besides butter, sugar, and gluten?” She began experimenting and soon discovered that “it was a really fun challenge to figure out what I could create with these alternative ingredients, and once I started posting them on my site, I realized that there was a much larger need for it,” she says. So, after graduating college and with the encouragement of her father, the Rancho Santa Fe native returned to San Diego and took her venture, Bakerita.com, full time.
The perfectionist comes into play because these substitutions don’t always come easily. “If I’m going to make a paleo chocolate chip cookie, I want it to taste as good as the real thing. So, I made them over and over again until I was happy to take that cookie over a regular cookie,” says Conners, now 25. “It definitely took a while for me to figure out what works, but now I have a pretty good handle for one-to-one replacements for those things.” She’s happy to hear that others agree, especially when making these substitutions means using alternate ingredients that are less familiar and often more expensive than traditional ones. “That’s always the best compliment to get — that people trust me with their money, essentially. They know if they make something from my site, it’s going to turn out the way that they want and it’s going to taste good. I would never share something that I’m not totally confident in,” she says.
Conners’ first cookbook, due out in spring 2020, will feature 100 recipes — most exclusive to the book plus a handful of favorites from her site. All the pictures in-book will be her own, giving her a chance to hone not only her baking but her photography skills as well. And finding taste-testers is still not a problem. Inevitably the dessert provider at any gathering she attends, Conners says, “It’s very convenient, because I always have a refrigerator or freezer full of treats!” bakerita.com Deanna Murphy
Rachel Conners: Photo by Madeline Broderick Almond Butter Bars: Photo by Rachel Conners