Four years ago, mother-and-daughter duo Anne Hoyt and Taylor Nicholson opened Unrefined Bakery on Buckner Boulevard with a huge leap of faith. They didn’t have any formal culinary training and used only word-of-mouth and grassroots marketing. Such efforts have proved fruitful, as the flagship bakery is now one of three locations, with two new stores recently opening in the old Society Bakery spot on Greenville Avenue and in Frisco.
Unrefined is “gluten-free and more.” Its offerings are 100-percent gluten; soy, chemical, and preservative-free; 99-percent corn and dairy-free; and 80-percent egg-free. If you have an unaccounted for allergy, just ask. The bakery can accommodate many different allergy types. Their cupcakes, muffins and cookies are made with unrefined sugar, organic and non-GMO flours, fats, dried fruits and nuts, and organic free-range eggs.
Nicholson explains, “Nine years ago, my mother, sister, and I gave up pretty much everything. We are celiac, and processed food offerings are nutritionally void.” But like any normal human being, sweets-deprivation forced her back into the kitchen. Nicholson began playing with recipes and had some success. “Our goal is for people to not think our food is good for gluten-free, but that it is good and just happens to be gluten-free.”
Unrefined’s offerings are plentiful. “The Mix” sold at Eatzi’s (and offered in many Dallas restaurants) is Unrefined’s version of Chex Mix, but better. But the real draw, to be honest, is the carbohydrates that Unrefined offers: cookies, brownies, muffins, breads, cookie dough, pies, pizza crust, snacks, and food bars. They have a paleo line of sweets, which uses honey in place of sugar.
Admittedly skeptical of any sweet that claims to be healthy (or at least not bad for you), I tried a whole slew of offerings: vanilla cake with diary-free icing, derby pie, sugar cookies (plain and sandwiched with icing and sprinkles in the middle), carrot cake cupcake with cream cheese frosting, brown velvet cupcake (the bakery’s version of red velvet), a strawberry cupcake, a raspberry-chocolate cupcake (the Obsession) and a peanut butter/banana/chocolate cupcake (the Loaded Monkey), a fresh-out-of-the-oven bite of bread, and a few muffins.
Don’t judge. I didn’t eat breakfast before I went.
For some items, I was sold by Nicholson’s mantra. They were good and just happened to be gluten-free (and more). I’d only had a small bite of derby pie—a bourbon chocolate chip pecan pie—before incredulously asking, more than once, whether it was actually gluten-free. I preferred the sugar cookie to the other sweets. It wasn’t quite as soft as my grandmother’s cookies, but it tasted just as good, and I am a sucker for anything with sprinkles. They make life better.
The cupcakes, in my mind, have the asterisk. You know, the “good for gluten-free” asterisk. That said, the Loaded Monkey was a favorite in my family, with the strawberry coming in for a close second.
What Nicholson and Hoyt have done with Unrefined is impressive. They are offering tasty food options and treats that people with food allergies can enjoy. As I left on Saturday, the day of the Greenville location’s official grand opening, many regulars were coming and going. Some had allergies, but many did not. Those folks just wanted to feel good while enjoying some carbs. That’s what I take away from Unrefined. Food allergies or not, Paleo or not, sweet-tooth or not, it is a bakery offering the Dallas population a way to eat foods that are “not nutritionally void” without depriving us of the good stuff in life.
Lindsey Beran is a D Magazine intern. In her spare time, she enjoys trying new food, exploring Dallas, and dramatically raising the average age at One Direction concerts.