Maddox Michaud frosts a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan cupcake Thursday at his home bakery in Lisbon. Michaud opened Quirky Cakes bakery last fall after years of cooking gluten-free and dairy-free at home. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LISBON FALLS — Maddox Michaud’s wife had encouraged him to start a bakery for years. The stay-at-home dad wasn’t sure the time was right, and didn’t want to fail. It turned out he needed a pandemic push.

“In my head, it was like a now-or-never moment,” said Michaud, 33. “I think it gave me more motivation to do it because I saw how chaotic everything in the world got. It was jump in feet first — if it works, it works. At least you could say you tried.”

Quirky Cakes opened in October.

On its gluten-free, dairy-free menu for Easter: Peeps whoopie pies, pineapple whoopie pies and carrot cupcakes with cream cheese flavored frosting.

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking as long as I can remember,” he said. “I’m really comfortable in the kitchen and it’s a good stress relief for me.”

When the oldest of his three sons was diagnosed as a child with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease with a severe reaction to gluten, the entire family switched to a gluten-free diet and the experimenting in the kitchen began.

“Texture has been a huge driving force in nailing down recipes that aren’t dense, gritty, which is very common with gluten-free,” Michaud said. “A lot of gluten-free cupcakes are dense, but when you have a non-gluten-free cupcake, it’s almost airy. So I have worked for getting it more on the airy side.”

His parents and mother-in-law helped with financial support for the startup, which allowed him to start pretty quickly, he said. His new business name, Quirky Cakes, was family-inspired.

“I have two kids with autism, and within the autism community sometimes, you’ll hear the word ‘quirky’ thrown out to describe your kid,” Michaud said. It seemed fitting. “My kids have been my inspiration for this whole thing.”

Most orders come in via social media or the Little Ridge FarmDrop. Work starts in the morning in his home kitchen as soon as the boys leave for school.

“They get picked up at about 7:10 and I’m usually baking by 7:15,” he said.

Michaud said his current top sellers are blueberry, pumpkin spice and banana mini-muffins and chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies. Everything is gluten-free and all but an eclair filling is dairy-free.

At Thanksgiving, he added cranberry orange whoopie pies to the menu. At Christmas, mint chocolate and eggnog whoopie pies.

He also offers breads and cupcakes.

Outside of FarmDrop, which has a pickup at Little Ridge Farm every Friday, Michaud connects with his customers at a set time in a local parking lot.

“I have my regulars already, which is pretty cool. I know I can count on them every week,” he said. “The reward is just to be able to get my product out there and show people that gluten-free food is not horrible. . . My son, when he was in the process of getting diagnosed, he almost died. So seeing people not really take it serious, as just the ‘in’ diet, always bothered me, and that was another driving force to get my product out there because I do it from a health standpoint, not a fad standpoint.”

Michaud would ultimately like open his own bakery storefront. His wife, Hope, a nurse, is rooting for another new venture.

“My wife would love for us to be able to open a gluten-free diner,” he said. “I can do all food, it’s just bakery is my comfort zone.”

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