Long before launching her gluten-free bakery, Brutus Bakeshop, Brooklyn-based baker Lani Halliday was a 19-year-old baking apprentice at her local bakery.

During that time, she learned the art of baking, mastering how to bake artisan breads like ciabatta and challah. “It was an incredible opportunity from a talented man,” Halliday said. “At the time, I didn’t even realize what he was teaching me.”

Photo: Courtesy of Lani Halliday.

But after years at work, Halliday, also a graduate of a French pastry school, developed a wheat allergy and made the hard decision to leave the bakeries behind due to the effects they were having on her health.

However, it didn’t it stop her from baking. Instead, Halliday pivoted and learned how to bake gluten-free treats.

“I utilize a conventional baking framework for the techniques,” Halliday said. “I just sort of amassed familiarity with the differences over the years.”

Photo: @lanihalliday on Instagram.

With those same techniques—albeit with a few adjustments—Halliday is able to create delicious components, such as her vegan buttercream. Using products like bean-based egg replacement aquafaba and other vegan foods she has created one of her signature products, a cake that she calls “baking outside the lines.”

Everything is in the making

The idea for her own bakery was alway in Halliday’s mind, but a name was not as easy to envision. Although she stepped away from the workforce for six-years to raise her baby, she kept baking and crafting the idea for her store.

Thanks to a childhood friend, now a designer, she was inspired to settle on the name Brutus Bakeshop.

“He and his partner had created this dossier package for me and it had all these exciting ideas that really reflected the way that they saw me as an individual.”

Photo: @lanihalliday on Instagram.

While Brutus Bakeshop has no brick-and-mortar store, the talented baker has held pop-ups across NYC and all over the world. Reflecting on the pandemic and how restaurants and other small businesses are struggling to stay, Halliday said pop-ups may be the future of survival.

“I’ve pivoted and have been working on my business development team on brand partnerships and building out the brand digitally,” Halliday said.

“We don’t really know what’s going to happen, it’s difficult to plan anything. Right now, pop-ups make a lot of sense.”

Halliday has just finished a pop-up at Prospect Heights restaurant Maison Yaki, which is hosting pop-ups for Black chefs to showcase their food. She said being there had been a wonderful experience.

The business of baking

Despite the issues of uncertainty, Brutus Bakeshop has been able to withstand the pressure and thrive.

Customers are not only looking for sweet goods to eat during a stressful time, but the recent call for support for Black businesses has led to a business boom for her company.

Photo: New York Times, Photographer Jenny Huang

“I’ve seen my income increase while we shelter in place. I’ve done all my orders through mail order,” Halliday said.

“There is certainly an outcropping of support that people have given as a part of the social uprising and people wanting to spend money with Black-owned businesses.”

And Halliday is a creator who also gives back to her community, baking her signature gluten free and vegan miso chocolate chip cookies to raise money for charities.

While having a retail store may be on the road ahead for Brutus Bakeshops, Halliday plans to continue with more pop-ups for now, following social distance guidelines of course. You can purchase baked goods here.

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Make a Donation

BK Reader is brought to you for free daily. Please consider supporting independent local news by making a donation here. Whether it is $1 or $100, no donation is too big or too small!

Yannise Jean

Yannise Jean is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor. Her work has appeared in publications like Okayplayer and Well + Good. Follow her on Twitter @yjeanwrites.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *