Bee's Knees Bakeshop

Mother creates gluten- and dairy-free treats

Kecia Johndrow's idea to open Bee's Knees Bakeshop started close to home. When her son was diagnosed with food allergies nearly a decade ago, she started rethinking the way she baked and cooked.

"We found out he was gluten-intolerant and dairy-intolerant, so I started converting some of the old recipes that my grandmothers had done to incorporate the new flours and things we were having to use," she said. "I really wanted him to eat the same things I grew up on, and I didn't want him to have to feel different."

Bee's Knees opened in March 2011, serving exclusively gluten- and dairy-free goodies such as cookies, pies, brownies, breakfast tacos and sandwiches. In addition to a la carte foods, Johndrow draws much of her business from custom sculpted and fondant-covered birthday cakes.

"We want people to have the same kinds of cakes that people can get from other bakeries," she said. "Especially with kids, they want to feel special at their birthday party. They don't want to have a cake that none of the other kids want to eat, so it's really important for us to have recipes that other kids are going to enjoy as well."

Johndrow said it took several trials to learn the best ingredients and methods to use in her allergy-conscious bakeshop.

"Wheat flour reacts differently in baked goods than, say, the brown rice flour and things that we use. So it was really about finding the right combinations," she said. "It's challenging to make a product that is good for the people who have food allergies but also tastes good."

In the morning, Johndrow and her staff line the display case with a variety of treats free from artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. Pastry Chef Valeria Romero said even customers without gluten or dairy intolerances can enjoy goods from Bee's Knees.

"People sometimes notice a texture difference, but they get over it fast because it tastes really great," Romero said.

Bee's Knees Bakeshop, 109 Cypress Creek Road, Cedar Park, 931-4323,