After an approximate 11 years of being vegetarian and a subsequent 9 years of veganism (which continues, thank you), I have an ongoing to quest to find the best plant-based fare in any location. However, it should be noted that despite having a diet inspired by rabbits, I've been "aiding and abetting" carnivores (one very large and one very small) which means I have a foot in both camps. Muncie actually has an AMAZING availability of foods for both diets, and WE EVEN HAVE A VEGAN BAKERY. Here, let me “introduce” you to my new hero, Amanda Reninger, proprietor of Sea Salt and Cinnamon.
Sea Salt and Cinnamon is an exciting surprise for Muncie!
Can you give us a little background on how you came to be?
Thanks so much! My husband and I are originally from Florida, but moved to Muncie in 2008 after our wedding because I planned to go to BSU for grad school. We fell in love with this city & purchased a home here in 2010. Shortly after moving we began having some health issues that forced us into a vegan diet. I began 'veganizing' all my favorite baking recipes and learning about the science behind vegan baking and fell in love! After a number of years of testing recipes on our friends, I started having people ask to purchase my cupcakes for parties or events. Things just kind of grew from there & in 2014 we decided to start Sea Salt & Cinnamon. It has been so awesome to see the positive reaction Muncie has had to our baked goods and, more recently, savory foods. We were very nervous about the idea of bringing vegan foods to a smaller town like Muncie, but we have been intentional about our branding and marketing to help make our foods as enticing and non-threatening as possible. The word "vegan" can be a trigger for a lot of people, so we do our best to make our foods inviting!
What did your journey to become a vegan baker entail?
My studies have always been in classical music where there is an emphasis on both technique and creativity. When I got interested in baking, I took the same approach. I love a good challenge and the idea of removing animal products from baking made for a great one! I get nerdy about the science behind baking and what each ingredient brings to the table and have always thought about baking from a math perspective. Music is really just a lot of math and so is baking, so it has always made sense to me that I moved from one to the other. :)
What are your most popular items, and which are your favorite to make?
We are mostly known for our cupcakes. They were the first product we offered because I was the most familiar with them, but we have grown into a variety of offerings. From the beginning, I knew that if we were going to be successful as a specialty bakery, we would need to offer a wide variety of products to appeal to a wide variety of clients. My favorite thing to make is probably cakes. I am always trying new techniques and love the challenge that a cake represents.
Are there seasonal or special items we should anticipate this fall or winter?
Yes! We will begin our "all pumpkin everything" items starting in just a few weeks! They will be available at any of our wholesale partners. We work with The Caffeinery in downtown Muncie, Woodworth Dining Hall on campus and Nine Lives Cat Cafe in Indy. We will also be releasing our Thanksgiving menu shortly and usually do a few specialty things for it each year.
For curious carnivores, what are some of the key differences in vegan baked goods?
So, vegan baking entails a few key differences from regular baking. The biggest thing is that we use no eggs and no dairy of any kind, because they come from an animal. Not only this, but we use no animal products of any kind. The best example of this is gelatin. Gelatin is an animal by-product used in marshmallows, jello, etc... So, when we use marshmallows, we use a vegan brand called Dandies. Our goal is always to create something that looks and tastes better than it's traditional counterpart! We believe you eat with your eyes first and so, our desserts always reflect that.
What are some of your favorite spots to eat vegan in Muncie, and what do you like to order? Please list as many as you wish.
We love eating at Muncie's local restaurants. We live downtown and so we frequent a lot of places there! Twin Archer Brewpub has AMAZING cauliflower wings. All of the flavor options are delicious! Casa del Sol is a Mexican restaurant in downtown and they have a great vegetarian menu that can easily be made vegan. Their chips and salsa are fantastic and they are always accommodating. We also love the Black Bean Burger at Savage's Ale House. They are helpful with any sides that are or are not vegan & often have specials that are vegan or vegetarian friendly! Sitara Indian Restaurant also has a great selection of vegan options with a great buffet on Sunday's! Tuppe Tong Thai is also AMAZING! They are in downtown Muncie & have some of the best tofu ever. It's authentic and so so yummy!