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The Naked Baker Strips Cookies of Artificial Ingredients

Jun. 20, 2017
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Sue Knutson had always loved to bake and even considered going to culinary school before getting a degree in accounting. After becoming a stay-at-home mom to her four sons—three of whom are triplets—she became the unofficial school baker, bringing in treats for bake sales, birthdays and classroom functions. Known as “The Cookie Lady,” Knutson frequently got suggestions from other moms that she start selling her cookies. That planted the seed for her cookie company, The Naked Baker.

She started the business by offering decorated cookies, which proved to be too laborious to grow into a sustainable business model. She decided to transition to grocery store product, and frozen cookie dough was her first offering. Winning the 2015 Hottest Kitchen Challenge helped Knutson take her business to the next step.

The cookie dough was well received at retail outlets, including Outpost Natural Foods. “Outpost suggested that I offer a gluten-free product,” Knutson said. “That’s something that I hadn’t really thought about, but last summer I started offering gluten-free baked cookies, and they were a huge hit. I started making them for Outpost, and I could not believe how many cookies I was selling.” 

Consumer demand has taken Knutson from cookie dough to nearly 100% gluten-free baked and packaged cookies and brownies. Customers also seem to want fast and easy, making ready-to-eat products even more convenient than cookie dough that requires heating an oven and cleaning cookie sheets.

Knutson believes much of the success of her gluten-free cookies comes from a flour blend she developed that allows her to change any cookie recipe to gluten-free. She sells to many people who aren’t on gluten-free diets, but who love her cookies. 

Hence the name “The Naked Baker”—Knutson’s cookies are made pure and basic, with no added chemical preservatives or genetically modified (GMO) ingredients. “That’s the way I eat,” she said. “So there’s so much junk on the market, and maybe that’s why so many people are developing allergies and need to go gluten free. Our gluten-free peanut butter cookie has five ingredients: peanut butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs and sea salt.”

Knutson developed all of her recipes. She currently offers nine varieties of cookies. The Sea Salt Chocolate Chip tastes like a traditional, moist, chocolate chip cookie with a hint of salt to balance the bittersweet chocolate. The two lemon varieties offer tangy delights—the perfect accompaniment for summer party spreads. Other varieties include three oatmeal selections (one with cranberries), a sugar cookie, the Peanut Butter Bomb and the Chocolate Duet. Five brownies and a blondie bar are also available. Knutson partners with Becky’s Blissful Bakery for the caramel used in the Mother Load—a turtle-style brownie.

Knutson hopes to get GMO-free certification as she expands the business due to its tremendous growth. She hopes to expand to fast-casual restaurants that offer gluten-free food but not desserts. She also takes custom orders for businesses and organizations. Naked Baker products can be ordered online or found at Outpost Natural Foods, Good Harvest Market, Metcalf’s in Wauwatosa and Sendik’s in Brookfield. This summer, Knutson will be at the Tosa Farmers Market, West Town Market at Zeidler Union Square and the NEWaukee Night Market. 

For more information, visit thenakedbakercookies.com

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