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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Piece(s) of cake

Local bakery serves up sustainability

The double chocolate trifle Lil’ Scrappie from Saltadena Bakery is made from leftover cake scraps in an effort to prevent unnecessary food waste, Feb. 6, 2021.
The double chocolate trifle Lil’ Scrappie from Saltadena Bakery is made from leftover cake scraps in an effort to prevent unnecessary food waste, Feb. 6, 2021. // Photo by Caroline Brooks

By Caroline Brooks

Saltadena Bakery & Cake Shop’s muted pink colors and frosting-scented air isn’t all the shop has to offer. The Holly Street bakery serves cookies, cream puffs and cakes with a side of sustainability. 

When someone takes a bite of rich cake with fluffy buttercream frosting, they’re most likely not thinking about the ingredients that didn’t make the cut. However, a surprising amount of food is wasted on the way to a customer’s hands.

One-third of all food produced in the world is lost or wasted according to the United Nations Environment Programme. While large-scale change is predicted to require cooperation from the government according to the United Nations, some local businesses, like Saltadena, are doing their part too. 

Bruce McAdams, an associate professor at the University of Guelph’s School of Hospitality, Food & Tourism Management and founder of the university’s Sustainable Restaurant Project, outlined steps restaurants and bakeries can take towards food sustainability. 

McAdams suggested businesses avoid creating a surplus of goods that will go to waste. If it’s unavoidable, the next step would be donating or repurposing waste, with composting being a last resort. McAdams said a sustainability benefit of baked goods is their transportability and shelf life. Essentially, they’re easy to “rescue” and repurpose. Saltadena’s “Lil’ Scrappies,” which originated out of an excess of cake scraps, have taken on a new form as one of the most popular sweet treats the bakery has to offer, Stuart said.

While baking and shaping wedding cakes from home, the original location of Saltadena, Stuart found herself tired of either throwing out or eating the surplus. 

“I was able to use up all of the scraps by mixing them in a container with buttercream and whatever toppings I had leftover,” Stuart said in an email. 

After creating the first few cake-scrap hybrids in 2018, Stuart started a flash sale on Instagram to gauge interest, and the community showed support. The bakery now sells around 75 “Lil’ Scrappies” every week, and Stuart estimates they have been able to repurpose “hundreds and hundreds of pounds” of cake, frosting and pudding in the process

Even the compostable cups serving the cakes are sustainable — a trend Stuart hopes to expand to her entire bakery.

Customers like Tiffany Ngo, a Seattle resident with a dedicated food Instagram who attended Saltadena’s pop-up shop earlier this year, don’t mind the idea of eating ‘scraps.’ 

“If it was presented to me without a label, I would’ve assumed it was a deconstructed layer cake,” Ngo said. “You’d never know they were scraps.”

Ngo’s favorite, the “Salty Deena,” is described on Saltadena’s website as a combination of chocolate cake, cream cheese frosting, caramel sauce, fresh whipped cream and salted chocolate chunk cookie pieces.

“The chocolate cake was nice and soft, and the salted caramel helped balance the flavors,” Ngo said.

Although the bakery occasionally does pop-ups, Stuart has no plan to expand the business any time soon.

“I am first and foremost very committed to growing in Bellingham and giving back and making an impact within this community,” Stuart said.

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