Innate Foods, the Twin Cities’ newest -- and tiniest -- bakery is easy to blow right past. Tucked deep into St. Paul’s Southern Hayden Heights neighborhood, the vegan and celiac-friendly bakery had its door propped wide for its grand opening this past Saturday, differentiating the gray little darling from its street-side kin.
Owner-chef Laura Ford was youthful and beaming, perched on a stool behind her counter, dressed head to toe in bright floral patterns, a dainty headband, and candy-colored socks emblazoned with BITE ME. After her years of hosting vegan pop-ups in borrowed kitchens, the decision to build Innate Foods as an in-home business seemed only natural to Ford.
According to her research, her home dates back to the 1920s. It’s already had a long history of uniting the community through commerce, including a stint as a barber shop. For Ford, hosting strangers in her living room felt right; she found it odder that her biggest customer rush had come around midday.
“I love the fact that of all the types of businesses that can bring a community together, a barbershop and a bakery are at the top of the list,” says Ford. “Continuing that tradition means a lot to me, especially since we will be offering baked goods that are simply too hard to find anywhere else.”
One of Ford's more difficult-to-come-by items arrives just in time for the tail end of grilling season: vegan, gluten-free hot dog buns (that don’t suck). After poring over every vegan and gluten-free book she could get her hands on, Ford’s certain she’s perfected her version.
“Finding a good gluten-free hot dog bun, that is also vegan, is almost impossible. And if you do, it is generally very expensive. So I decided to make them myself.”
Making and selling these goods from her kitchen helps Ford keep Innate’s prices reasonable. My grand-opening haul of a loaf of banana bread adapted from Ford's grandmother's recipe, a coconut blondie with house-made faux-bacon crumbles, and the day’s scone (a vibrant pesto flavor) rang in at only 10 dollars. Minnesota’s Cottage Food Law makes this whole shebang legal to begin with, for those feeling inspired to follow in Ford's footsteps.
Innate Foods’ specialty is actually the charm with which Ford is selling her 100 percent gluten-free, celiac-friendly vegan treats -- from meringues to cookies, brownies, pie crusts, and more. And as for details like signage? Those will come with time. Ford says the city wants 70 dollars for her to put up a plasticized, politician-style sign in the front yard, and getting the bureaucracy of that approved would take a while.
Everything in due time, though—especially if you’re living in your workspace and busy thinking outside the box, as Ford is doing.
Innate Foods Bakery
1944 Ivy Ave. E., St. Paul
Weekends 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.