Friday, September 17, 2010

The Little Gluten-free Bakery from Quebec That's Won Accolades Across North America

What would you do if you could no longer eat bread, bagels, cookies or any of the other wheat-based foods you take for granted? This was the challenge faced by Pat Libling when she was diagnosed with celiac disease (gluten-intolerance) in 1987. "My first reaction," Pat says, "was there's nothing to eat — especially after trying many of the gluten-free products available." When two of her daughters were also diagnosed with the condition, the former school teacher decided it was time to take matters into her own hands.

From home-based business to full-scale artisan bakery

Begun as a home-based business in 2001, the PatsyPie bakery has long since moved into a larger, dedicated gluten-free facility, occupying 3,000 square feet in Montreal, Quebec. Current offerings include cookies, biscotti, mini brownies, and mini muffins.

Not only has PatsyPie become one of the fastest growing gluten-free brands in Canada, available in both major supermarket chains and independent stores, this innovative line is now sold across the United States, as well—in both stores and via the Internet (

Even the employees' lunches are gluten-free

"Often, over the years," Pat says, "I'd hear about a gluten-free bakery in one place or another. New York. Boston. Ottawa. Maine. Vancouver. Toronto. And I'd drag my husband and daughters along to find these wonderful goodies. But I can't recall a single time I wasn't disappointed.

"Yes, the baked goods were gluten-free. But they were also excessively sweet or pasty or dry. When I started PatsyPie, I vowed I would never be that sort of bakery. I will not disappoint people the same way those bakeries disappointed me."

Pat was also disturbed by the fact that many of these bakeries were not 100% gluten-free. "PatsyPie is strictly gluten-free—right down to the lunches our employees bring to work. In fact, no wheat is permitted on the bakery's premises. If someone wants to bring a sandwich," Pat explains, "we supply the gluten-free bread!"

Taste-tested on people who don't need to eat gluten-free

According to Pat, the downfall of many gluten-free baked goods is obvious—the taste and texture. "My goal was to create baked treats that were every bit as good or better than regular bakery items—snacks the whole family could enjoy. It's why we taste-test our products on all sorts of people—not just those restricted to gluten-free diets. After all, if they can't tell the gluten is missing, we know we've done it right."

Often adapted from favorite family recipes, PatsyPie cookies, biscotti, brownies and muffins are considered as close to homemade as store-bought can be. All items are made by hand in small batches, using only wholesome, natural ingredients, with no trans fats, preservatives or "icky aftertaste". "Even the fork marks on our peanut butter cookies are real," Pat states with pride. "My baking sells itself."

Pat attributes a large part of her success to a simple philosophy. "I don't believe it's enough to be just a gluten-free bakery. My goal from the start was to build a really good bakery that just happens to make only gluten-free products. I think that's the big difference between us and others. The way I see it, there's no reason why any gluten-free product shouldn't taste as good as or better than regular baked treats."

Taking the time to get every recipe right

It takes an average of two years of development and testing before a PatsyPie product is deemed ready for market. "We don't rush anything just for the sake of getting it out there." The new Lemon Shortbread cookies, for instance, took two years before Pat felt they were ready to go.

"In gluten-free baking, it's not just a matter of throwing ingredients together. It's about trial and error and finding the perfect balance. It's why we're always tweaking. Recently, we added a simple step to the baking of our Raisin Cookies. The ingredients are the same, but the finished cookie is even better. And the Raisin was already very popular."

In addition to Lemon Shortbread and Raisin, PatsyPie offers Chocolate Chip, Snappy Ginger and Peanut Butter cookies. Biscotti flavors include Almond, Almond & Raisin, Chocolate Chip, Pecan and the highly popular Cranberry Orange. Two frozen products are also offered: Double Chocolate Mini Brownies and Morning Glory with Flax Mini Muffins.

Widely available in Canada, PatsyPie artisan-baked treats are now found in a growing number of health food and grocery stores across the United States too—a not unimpressive feat for a company that began as a home-based, one-woman operation just over eight years ago.

To learn more about this innovative, strictly gluten-free specialist, visit or call toll-free 1-87-PATSY-PIE (1-877-287-9743). Chances are that Pat will be the person who picks up the phone!

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