Eating allergen-friendly doesn’t have to mean parting ways with decadent desserts. In fact, Madison’s foodie scene is stacked with vegan bakers whipping up treats that are quite suitable for dietary-sensitive palates. These five local businesses are making creative confections herbivores—and stalwart omnivores—are sure to enjoy.
“Our passion is serving people delicious food and bringing joy, and we didn’t want to serve animal flesh or bi products anymore. So we went on the hunt to create vegan food that breaks stereotypes of what vegan food is. First it was our biscuit truck in Washington and when we moved to Madison, we decided to move into doughnuts,” says co-creator Aaron Mooney. “Our product is unique because we think our product rivals that of regular doughnuts because they are handmade with love and compassion. We love people, animals and the planet. The newest flavors are apple cider doughnuts and pumpkin spice doughnuts, along with some fun Halloween treats. Moving into the Christmas season, we will be bringing back the chocolate peppermint doughnuts. Go vegan!”
“For Mark and I, planning a plant-based menu in the fall comes easy. We absolutely love vegetables, especially all that is being harvested this time of year: squash, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, the list goes on. We always have fun bringing back some of our classics like our caramel apple buckle cake and chai-spiced doughnuts,” says owner Annemarie Maitri. “This year I was inspired to create a new spiced pumpkin cookie that is reminiscent of a snickerdoodle cookie texture. I am in love with it! And Mark’s canvas of creativity has been the harvest focaccia he prepares each week. We talk to our farmers on Sunday at the market and start dreaming and scheming Monday morning for the week ahead.”
Inspired by generations of family bakers that came before her, Heirloom Bakery & Kitchen was started in 2019 in Madison by founder Mickey Walker—a passionate vegan and pastry chef. “And utilizing 20 years of experience, my specialties have become one-of-a-kind, custom-made cakes for all occasions, using high-quality, organic ingredients wherever possible, in addition to no artificial colors or flavors,” Walker says. Popular items she is currently serving up at Black Locust Café and local pop-up events are lemon poppy seed bundt cake, frosted pumpkin spice cake squares and chewy chocolate chip cookies.
Local-owned. Female-owned. Black-owned. And this trifecta has quickly helped LushLife baked goods become a plant-based staple around Dane County. “I became inspired to become a vegan baker after my youngest son became ill in kindergarten. In 2007, it became apparent there was a real need for this since there weren’t a lot of alterative options on the mainstream market yet. Not only for my son, but for other people too,” says proprietress Carrie Seward. “So I turned my passion into my crusade. It’s not about the cake; it’s about the people.” Her current seasonal offerings include apple brown butter cake, pumpkin cake and rum cake.
“Monty’s Blue Plate Diner has been serving a variety of vegan comfort foods since we opened 30 years ago. Like most folks, we really love our desserts and are proud to have a wide range of vegan options. We use locally-made Chocolate Shoppe soy-vanilla ice cream in our chocolate-covered strawberry and orange dream shakes, as well as in our warm chocolate brownie sundaes,” says Food Fight Restaurant Group art director CC Jacob. “If you’re looking for a slice of vegan pie, we’ve got that for you too, with apple, cherry and strawberry-rhubarb available daily. Of course, we’re also always open to let your creativity shine, so come in and help us create your perfect shake, sundae, float or scoop – you select the ingredients and we’ll make it a reality.”