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Sweet Cakes Brings Allergy-Friendly Treats to Wicker Park

Sweet Cakes, a bakery at 901 N. Damen Ave., is moving to the Polish Triangle, bringing an all-inclusive approach to sweets.

Wicker Park is about to get a whole lot sweeter.

Currently located in Ukrainian Village, Sweet Cakes bakery will be moving to 1223 N. Milwaukee Ave. in June.  It’ll be nearly six years to the day of opening the bakery, owner Emily Smith said. 

But what people might not know about Sweet Cakes’ cakes is that they’re food allergy-friendly. Most of the bakery’s snacks are gluten-free, nut-free or even dairy-free. Smith said that sometimes, people don’t realize the cupcakes they’re consuming are made without eggs.

“I wanted to create something for everyone, so everybody can walk in and grab a snack,” she said.

Almost all of her family members have food allergies that range from gluten and nut to wheat, corn and grain. Smith herself is allergic to eggs and dairy.

Her family was the inspiration to start the business and it’s also her family who’s behind her in the bakery. Her dad, Vern, can often be seen in the front of house and her sister is the architect designing the layout for the new location.

That family atmosphere transfers to the bakery’s customers. On Friday, one woman wandered in and picked up a few lemon raspberry mini cupcakes—the same flavor Smith is making for her wedding cake.

Leaving the neighborhood is the hardest part of moving, the baker said.

“We’ve met girls that were dating guys and became wives. And then we knew them when their tastes started changing as they got pregnant,” Smith said.

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While she hopes her old neighbors will visit the new shop, the bakery needed to grow. The new location is nearly 1,300 square feet and will hold approximately 40 seats compared to the 25-seat location Smith has now.

The room will be elevate the bakery’s bi-monthly pop-up dinners. Twice a month, Smith steps out of the sweet and into the savory with her themed dinners. April’s will be a Spanish paella and in the past, Smith has gone Italian-American with a Brooklyn theme.

The dinners are one of her favorite things to do, besides hand-rolling croissants and developing flavors for her savory brioche—made with tomato, basil and rosemary at the moment.

“It gives me a chance to cook for people again without being a line cook,” Smith said.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Smith worked for the restaurant management group, Lettuce Entertain You. There, she worked nearly every job available in a restaurant. 

That experience motivated her to create her own food, friendly to those with food allergies. 

To a novice baker, making cupcakes without eggs may seem impossible. But Smith said she’s perfected substitutions because of the ample supply of guinea pigs.

“It’s so easy to get people to taste things, that’s the easiest part of my job,” she said. “I’m a good scientist. I love science and art and it was just finding something to mush the two together.”

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