Samantha Olander-Coffey has fond memories of the first time she was able to have freedom of choice in an allergy-free bakery and now she wants to be able to create those moments for others in Northern Ireland.
Originally from Virginia in the United States, Samantha moved to South Belfast after meeting her husband while studying in London.
Suffering from a severe nut and soy allergy, she recently opened an allergy-friendly micro-bakery from her home that caters to people with similar experiences.
Speaking to Belfast Live, she said: âBaking has always been something I really enjoyed doing – I used to cook a lot with my mom as a kid.
âI come from a Jewish family so she would bake Challah bread which is a traditional braided bread and she would give me some of the dough and teach me how to make it myself.
“I really got into it as I got older and I’m still learning. I have a very severe nut and soy allergy so if I ever wanted to try something I should cook it myself because I can’t. really go into any bakery and order anything so I started to experiment a lot in the kitchen. “
Soon Samantha found herself using Youtube and cookbooks to try out different techniques and modify recipes to make delicious pastries that she could enjoy without worrying about her allergies.
âI first moved here in January 2020 just before it all started with the pandemic – originally my studies were in museum studies and studio art, but these jobs are hard to find and with the pandemic, I found myself cooking more which I think a lot of people did.
“I thought I wish I could create something beyond simple baking for my family and friends and I love the idea of ââbeing able to share things that traditionally don’t come from here for people who don’t. have never had before., “she explained.
From traditional Babka to authentic-style bagels, Sam enjoys sharing his recipes inspired by his Jewish-American culture in Northern Ireland for those who want to try something new or lack the comforts of home while living here.
Samantha continued, âI relate food to memories and community so it’s really exciting because now I’m starting to have regulars and it’s really cool to be able to share it with them and explain how you eat. something or the traditional way of doing something.
âYou can’t really get Bramley apples in the US, so it’s really cool that you can incorporate things from here into a traditional muffin recipe from my family, which kind of tweaks and combines it. to create something new, so that’s been really fun is part of it. “
She said she was overwhelmed and “surprised” by how quickly Coffey Cakes took off and built an following after only starting over a month ago.
âPeople have contacted me and told me that their son has a very serious nut allergy, so it’s really exciting that he can choose whatever he wants without worrying. It has been very positive. and that’s what I wanted to create by doing this, âshe said.
âThe first time I found a nut-free bakery I was in New York City with my dad and walked in and found it the most exciting thing to pick and choose what I wanted and be myself. feel safe and comfortable, so I just wanted to recreate that here. “
Coffey Cakes currently offers collection and delivery on a Friday in Belfast.
She added: âI just take things slow and as I grow I will open another day of collection and delivery. In the end, maybe I would like to get better equipment because I am happy to. operate out of my house.
“If this really starts to take off, I would consider some sort of local space for sale.”
Check out the coffee cakes here.