LillyBean by PastryBase

Richmond, VA

LillyBean by PastryBase image

When a pastry chef has to cut dairy and gluten out of their diet and sets out to create allergy-friendly baked goods that they can still enjoy, one thing is for sure: they aren’t going to stop at mediocre. Rather than relegating the allergen-free crowd to the sad baked good that no one else wants, LillyBean by PastryBase creates inclusive baking mixes and kits that are free of the top eight allergens and artificial colors, while still being downright delicious. 

LillyBean founder Jill Donaldson was surrounded by flour and butter in pastry kitchens in Miami, Nashville, and Washington, DC before developing health issues that led her to realize that she needed to change her diet. She started small with a single allergen, working on developing recipes that cut out dairy. Rather than frustrating, she found the process fascinating, as she learned how different fats behaved at different temperatures and in different recipes. Next she learned she needed to cut out gluten, so it was back to work testing out different flour blends, figuring out which ones mimicked which desired characteristics of wheat flour, whose gluten structure allows it to create every texture from light and airy to chewy and stretchy. 

Once Jill had developed recipes that allowed her to enjoy the things she loved and still be healthy, she decided she wanted to share that joy with others, while making it entirely inclusive to people of all dietary needs. With an entrepreneur’s do-it-yourself spirit, she started LillyBean in 2016 making everything by hand (including her labels) in her Richmond home and got into her first retail store soon after (Ellwood Thompson’s, who very kindly encouraged her to work on her branding, which is now on-point). Today, LillyBean’s product line has expanded to include everything from their flagship cupcake and buttercream mixes to their bestselling blondie mix to their new pizza crust and pancake and waffle mixes.

Jill’s passion for baking runs as deep as her family roots. She grew up baking alongside her Grandma Lilly, who taught her many of favorite recipes and became the namesake for LillyBean. The joy and flavor of those childhood memories drove Jill to create products that would allow people of all baking abilities and diets to bake treats that everyone in their household could enjoy. One of the unique things about LillyBean’s mixes (other than the fact that they’re only colored with fruits and veggies) is that they are incredibly customizable to many lifestyles and diets—or whatever happens to be hanging out in your kitchen when the baking mood strikes. Most mixes simply require a milk and a fat, and Jill has done extensive testing in her Richmond test kitchen and determined that nearly everything works: almond, rice, soy, or dairy milk; nut butter; coconut oil; vegan or regular butter; and even applesauce or mashed bananas.   

This year, Jill is excited to work on exciting new products (adorable and allergen-free marshmallows, anyone?) and helping with the buildout of a new allergen-free co-packing production facility at Hatch Kitchen right in her hometown. She would also love to hear from you! Jill loves getting baking questions or feedback from her customers. So pick up one of her mixes from the 4P Shop in your next order, and feel free to reach out to LillyBean for baking tips or to share your success story.