In The Kitchen With...


Here we are with Simona, who has turned her love for baking into a successful business, leaving no taste bud unsatisfied. Get ready to savor the fusion of her Italian heritage and American lifestyle as she shares her favorite recipes and special ingredient discoveries. Brace yourself for a gluten-free adventure that will leave you saying, "That's amore!"

Tell us about yourself and your baking journey...

"I was born and raised in Italy. I grew up following my mom and my paternal grandmother in the kitchen, and I learned how to bake from them both. Since I was a child, I have always had a sweet tooth. After I moved to the United States, I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance, and everything I had learned about baking had to change. I wanted to recreate the flavors and tastes that I loved; I wanted a life with no without. Many experiments and cookbooks later, I created a gluten-free flour mix of my own, and I learned enough tricks to transform my passion into a business. Simona’s Gluten-free Baked Goods opened its doors in November 2011. After two years of amazing success, the demand of the business became too much for a family of five. In 2013 I closed my wholesale bakery, but a few months later I started teaching gluten-free baking at a local kitchen store, and then I decided to start a blog where I would share my baking with anyone looking for the same flavors and tastes I crave."

What do you like about Judee's ingredients?

"I use Expandex, or modified tapioca starch, in my gluten-free flour mix. I have never liked the taste of tapioca in my baked goods because I could feel its aftertaste in everything I baked. When I discovered Judee’s modified tapioca starch, everything changed for me. No more aftertaste, no more imposing flavor. And the baked goods come out lighter. It bakes like a charm!"

Tell us about a favorite recipe that highlights both your Italian heritage and American lifestyle!

"It’s so difficult to choose! When I think of Italy, simplicity comes to mind, and I grew up with bundt cakes and tarts.  Every time I see a recipe for a bundt cake, I am brought back to my childhood kitchen with my mom mixing ingredients with a wooden spoon, and the cake rising beautifully in the oven. The chocolate bundt cake with frangipane core is probably the best marriage of our two worlds.  Tarts in Italy are usually filled with jam. But more recently pastry chefs have developed modern tarts, where they layer different textures and flavors. My version of a Lemon Meringue Tart with hazelnut crust, a madeleine biscuit layer, milk chocolate hazelnut caramel, lemon curd and Italian meringue is another example of a perfect Italian American marriage."

What is the most rewarding part of baking for you?

"Where do I start? I am a psychotherapist during the week, and I always say that baking is my therapy. It cannot be rushed, it’s very rewarding, it’s incredibly beautiful and satisfying, and it makes people happy."

What is your favorite gluten-free hack?

"I discovered that adding food grade vegetable glycerin to cake batter produces a moist, less crumbly product, and increases shelf life."

Check Out Some of Simona's Creations!

As our chat with Kasey Sweeter by the Doughzen comes to a close, we can't help but feel inspired by her passion and creativity. From classic flavors to unique and experimental ones, Kasey continues to push the boundaries of what a cookie can be.

Shop Baker's Favorites