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Mixing biology, baking in Petaluma

Emily Floyd isn’t the first pastry chef to turn her talents to gluten-free baking, but she may be the first fish biologist to trade in her microscope for a Hobart mixer.

As might be expected, her route to opening her new Bump City Bakery in downtown Petaluma was a circuitous one.

“I had no creative outlet in my biology career,” explained Floyd, who earned a degree in ecology from a joint doctoral program through University of California, Davis and San Diego State University.

In an effort to balance her work and strong interest in baking, she took a job as an intern at Oakland’s Bakesale Betty five years ago. Eventually, she was able to rent space in the bakery’s kitchen and began making her own desserts.

“I tried going to the farmers markets, but it was inconsistent and there was a seven year waiting list to get into Oakland’s Grand View Market,” she explained.

Instead, she began selling her signature cocktail spiked creations including her bourbon cherry apricot, pumpkin butterscotch and a maple rye pecan pies at various pop-ups and at an art gallery in the East Bay.

Floyd soon discovered that selling her cookies, pies and cupcakes wholesale to coffee shops and grocery stores was an efficient and effective way to run her business. She decided to rent commercial kitchen space at Kitchener, an affordable model designed to help food start-ups.

She named her venture Bump City Bakery, a nickname for Oakland where she started her business, and began to gain a following for her signature booze-spiked creations.

The next leg in Floyd’s journey entailed a move across the Richmond Bridge to Marin where she became the manager of the now closed Tea Cakes in the Corte Madera Town Center.

“Once I was in Marin, I began getting tons of requests for gluten-free cakes, cookies and cupcakes,” said Floyd, who became interested in the challenge of creating “great tasting sweets that people couldn’t tell were made without wheat.”

It didn’t take long before she decided to shift from wheat-based goods and offer an entirely gluten-free line - she even added some vegan offerings to her mostly organic driven repertoire. While in Marin, she gained a number of wholesale clients including Driver’s Market and Mill Valley Market who became regular buyers of her wheat-free treats.

Floyd continued to move north and west, and in July, she took over the lease at the now shuttered 2 London Foodies tucked away at 122 American Alley where she would finally have her very own brick and mortar space.

“Folks have been very welcoming and I’m loving being in Petaluma thus far,” she said.

The one-time café also came outfitted with a fully equipped kitchen. She was thrilled to have a permanent location where she could really roll up her sleeves and build her business.

“I really like researching and experimenting - I’m very precise and methodical,” said Floyd of her baking practices. “I guess I come at it more like a scientist.”

Though non-alcoholic cookie options and cupcakes are available, a sampling of boozy concoctions from Bump City Bakery include mochatini (vodka) and dark and stormy (rum) cupcakes, apple amaretto and pumpkin butter “scotch” pies make up the menu offerings. A tequila lime pie features a key lime filling topped with tequila- spiked cream.

Some customers have expressed concern that the alcohol added to the desserts could technically make them non-gluten-free. However, Floyd tests her products periodically to be sure they have no residual wheat so that those who suffer from celiac disease can enjoy her desserts safely.

“I typically just spike the frosting on my desserts or soak some of the ingredients in the booze-if the spirits are distilled correctly, it is not a problem,” she said.

Along with the celebratory cocktail infused treats, Floyd also bakes up sticky ginger cookies, s’more cookies and a salty date version.

“I like to make cookies that are naturally filled with lots of delicious ingredients like chocolate, dates and nuts-other stuff that is not focused on the flour,” explained Floyd who has created her own blend of brown and white rice flours, tapioca and sorghum as a base. “It’s important to get a good texture and for the desserts to be functional-and not fall apart.”

With her new space, Floyd looks forward to lots of experimenting. She admits that she is intrigued by the latest food craze “aquafaba” or garbanzo water that is being used in vegan cooking as a substitute for egg whites.

“I’m definitely interested in adding some savory items to my menu-I’m thinking gluten-free bread might be next,” said the Rohnert Park resident, who as the only employee of her business is currently only open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m.

To learn more about Bump City Bakery, visit bumpcitybakery.com.

Contact Tanya Henry at argus@arguscourier.com

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