StacyKay's Takes the CakeJan 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By Carol Cacchione
Wellsboro's bakery is 100 percent gluten-free and 100 percent delicious.
Ready to tie the knot? Say “I do!” to a gluten-free wedding cake from StacyKay’s Cafe, located at 17 Charleston Street in downtown Wellsboro. Stacy Kay Lanzo, who went to high school in Elkland and college at Kutztown University, says she’s “lived all over the U.S.” She’s now “settled back here” with husband Jason Lanzo and their three children, and is the owner, chef, and chief recipe innovator at StacyKay’s. What sets this bakery apart from others in the area is its dedication to providing 100 percent gluten-free foods and confections of all sorts—including scrumptious cakes for a bride’s special day.
Stacy makes her own recipes from scratch. She admits to testing and tweaking them over and over until she gets things to her liking. “I’m more concerned about taste than appearance,” she says. “Gluten-free has gotten a bad rap. People don’t dare try it, or they think it’s going to taste like cardboard. I always make sure it tastes one hundred times better than they can imagine.” On a wedding day, a bride needs that kind of assurance.
With a gluten-free cake, there’s also the assurance every guest will be able to enjoy their piece. “It’s easier,” Stacy says. “I don’t have to worry about hurting somebody by cross-contamination.” She’s referring to people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder characterized by intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat flour used in baking. Some people without celiac disease follow gluten-free diets by choice or by doctors’ orders to decrease whole-body symptoms such as bloating, joint pain, and digestive distress. They feel better when they don’t eat gluten. Stacy follows a gluten-free diet, so making her business completely gluten-free was a no-brainer. She methodically reviews every ingredient she purchases to make sure her menu items live up to the disclaimer.
Fortunately, there are many baking flours commercially available that don’t contain gluten. Stacy says it depends on what she’s making as to which kinds of flours she uses. With cakes, unless the customer has other allergies, she starts with a mixture of white rice and brown rice flours, with a little bit of potato starch and tapioca thrown in for good measure. “You’d never know from the texture that it doesn’t contain any gluten,” says Thera, one of Stacy’s helpers. Kristen, who also helps behind the counter, adds that most people expect a gluten-free cake to be dry and crumbly, but Stacy’s are moist and fluffy, soft and yummy.
Like the lemon lavender cake. Stacy made it originally as a cookie, but when a customer tasted one and asked if it could be a cupcake, Stacy adjusted the recipe and made it happen. From there, it was an easy progression to a cake. Stacy adds a smidgeon of organically grown dried lavender flowers to the batter to get the exact taste and fragrance she desires. How much is a smidgeon? Thera and Kristen say Stacy is notorious for not measuring, or even bothering to write down a recipe’s exact ingredients. This understandably drives them crazy when they have to mix up the various doughs and batters for a day’s work. Stacy simply laughs. She’s always baked this way, and is used to winging it in the kitchen. Besides, Thera and Kristen are her official taste testers. They don’t seem to mind.
Stacy’s baking repertoire is seemingly unlimited. It all depends on what the customer wants. Last year, for a June wedding, the bride-to-be requested a two-tiered cake, with one layer chocolate peanut butter, and the other vanilla strawberry. “Most brides get ideas for their cakes from the internet,” Stacy explains. “They bring me photos and ask if I can duplicate them.” She can, and she does. Beautifully. If she were designing a wedding cake for a winter wedding, she imagines a rich white vanilla cake, infused with raspberry. Or strawberry. Something to add some color and freshness to it. She constructs the recipe in her head while she describes it, simultaneously considering flavor combinations. She’s happy to concoct any sort of cake a bride would desire. All she asks for is at least a forty-eight-hour advance notice for a nine-inch two-layer wedding cake, and more time for larger orders.
Her largest order was for a fully catered wedding for a bride who couldn’t eat anything with gluten. Stacy ensured every bite—from charcuterie-style appetizers to the piece de resistance cake—was completely gluten-free. Stacy relies on local suppliers for meats and produce to ensure quality and freshness. She doesn’t have enough room in her approximately 600-square-foot cafe for a walk-in refrigerator or freezer, nor does she have much storage space. Everything is purchased as needed. That’s why booking a consultation with Stacy and her crew well in advance of any wedding or large celebratory event is a must.
She once accepted a cake order that put all her make-the-customer-happy abilities to the test. “It was a birthday cake,” Stacy recalls. “The woman had to have it gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and corn-free. So I did it.” Stacy whipped up a decadently delicious chocolate cake with a swirly chocolate chip cookie dough icing—no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no corn. The woman was thrilled. She hadn’t been able to have a birthday cake for twelve years because of all her dietary restrictions, and she had longed for one. Stacy made her birthday cake dreams come true.
What gets Stacy up in the morning at 1 a.m. to start her day at the cafe? It’s no secret. Her customers inspire her. She’s had some who come in and look longingly at the bakery case and ask her what they can choose that’s gluten-free, and when she tells them they can have anything in the store they want, they start to cry. “They’ve never had that freedom of choice before,” she says. “It’s truly humbling.”
Make your dreams come true with a 100 percent gluten-free wedding cake—or cake for any occasion—from StacyKay’s Cafe. Stop in Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., call (570) 404-5031, or check Facebook for daily specials.