January 30, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 28°F

Life & Culture

Local baker serves up allergy-friendly treats

A typical baker might shape their cupcake recipe around three major ingredients: sugar, flour and butter. But an ingredient in Racquel Riccardi’s, founder and owner of Sinfully Delicious Baking Co., cupcakes is garam masala, a spice blend consisting of cinnamon, cardamom and curry leaf. 

Chocolate garam masala cupcakes are just one of the many dessert options made by Riccardi. Her smallbatch baking facility specializes in allergen-friendly and vegan baked goods, and New Yorkstyle bagels. Her baked goods tout natural alternatives and cater to low-sugar or sugar-free dietary restrictions and paleo diets.

Outside of baking, Riccardi is the director of catering for Luna Inspired Street Food. Riccardi said that she still likes to make bagels from time to time but that Sinfully Delicious primarily makes sweeter treats for events like weddings and for wholesale. The bakery itself does not have a storefront or a team of bakers, so each item is handmade and madetoorder by Riccardi. 

Though Riccardi started in the company in 2011, she said that baking has always been a central part of her identity. Growing up, Riccardi could not often eat the goods she made because of her severe allergies to gluten, dairy and nuts, in addition to being a Type 1 diabetic.

“I started baking when I was four, and I remember that I used to climb the cabinets to try to grab things out of there so I could make my mom breakfast in bed,” Riccardi said. “With that, I kind of progressed into, ‘How can I eat food without being able to cook with anything?’”

This inspired her to study dietetics, health and wellness with a concentration in food science at SUNY Oneonta. She said she wanted to gain a better understanding of the basics of a recipe and figure out how to make her favorite recipes healthier and allergenfriendly. 

The chocolate cupcakes are an example of this. Garam masala is a spice blend used in Ayurvedic medicine, one of the world’s oldest holistic healing systems. The medicine was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India to raise body temperature and boost metabolism. 

After graduating from college, Riccardi moved to Costa Rica, where she and a friend made bagels to make ends meet.

“My friend and I had this little oven that could only bake four bagels at the time, and we would have to ride into town to get the propane for the oven because gas wasn’t as accessible in Costa Rica as it is here,” Riccardi said. “But it was really fun introducing the locals to what a bagel is and how we eat it, and I think it provided me with a lot of experience that I could use when I eventually moved back to the states and started Sinfully Delicious.”

Kimberly Anderson-Mutch, the bakery’s social media director, said she started working with Riccardi a little over a year ago. Her personal relationship with Riccardi was one of the many reasons why she said she chose to work for the bakery. 

“We actually went to school together at [Dryden High School],” Anderson-Mutch said. “I thought the work she did was amazing because I knew she was diabetic … and thought it was pretty cool … she got into baking. … She never fails to amaze me with what she makes, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with her.”

Anderson-Mutch said she hopes that through her work for Sinfully Delicious, the business can expand beyond the Finger Lakes region. 

“I have not seen anyone else bake from such a holistic standpoint,” Anderson-Mutch said. “She’s absolutely unique in her trade and is able to create these amazing flavor combinations. She’s also super knowledgeable about the benefits of the superfoods she employs within her baking.”

The Alley Cat Cafe in Ithaca is the only specific location that Riccardi caters to. Kristin O’Scammon, owner of the Alley Cat Cafe, said the cafe has been working with Sinfully Delicious for approximately one year. O’Scammon said Riccardi’s commitment to sourcing local ingredients for her products is what drew O’Scammon to working with her bakery.

O’Scammon said many of the customer favorites include Riccardi’s gluten-free and vegan cupcakes, her gluten-free brownies and her fruit bars. O’Scammon and her co-workers taste everything that comes in so they can figure out which desserts the customers will like the most. O’Scammon said that working with Sinfully Delicious has allowed customers to have a more inclusive and interactive experience at the cafe.

“I think knowing that there are inclusive options, as well as ever-changing unique and delicious flavors, keeps people engaged with our bake case in a way that a standard … baking schedule might not,” O’Scammon said. “Keeping cupcakes at child eye-level also lets our shorter customers be part of their own cafe experience.”

Riccardi said she hopes that as Sinfully Delicious continues to grow, the personal aspect of her business will still remain.

“It’s growing immensely lately, which is wonderful, but I don’t think I ever really want a storefront,” Riccardi said. “I don’t like the idea of waste, and I prefer to make everything and deliver the products myself. I’ve been able to make so many connections through the way I run my business, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Hannah Fitzpatrick can be reached at hfitzpatrick@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @HannahFitzpatr7