By Libby Hopkins
Cupcakes are amazing things. They can be as simple as vanilla frosting on top of a chocolate cupcake or as extreme as infused with bacon and maple syrup. Whatever the choice may be, Charlee Crawford of the Little Red Bird Kitchen in Valrico can make it.
“I’ve always loved baking, and in my teen and early adult years, it consisted of boxed baked cakes, brownies and cookies,” Crawford said. “I first started to bake from scratch in 2008 and I was a Food Network junkie who really wanted to challenge herself in baking cakes, pies, breads, and so on from scratch.”
Her passion for cooking and baking expanded from just watching the Food Network to taking cooking classes to refine her skills and techniques.
“I am by no means a professional chef, I am simply passionate about food and the connections it makes to bring people together,” Crawford said.
Crawford started the Little Red Bird Kitchen because she had been making cupcakes and sharing them with friends and family. They all suggested she start selling them. She started making cupcakes for birthdays, weddings and special events all over the community.
“My cupcakes were different from what was available in stores and I created decorations that were not fondant based or overly sweet,” Crawford said. “I made sure there was a balance in flavor, texture and sweetness.”
Most of the treats she makes are mainly gluten, grain free and dairy free. She also offers some vegan items as well.
“I am big on research so I try to find baking items that are organic, non-GMO, allergen friendly and good enough for my family,” Crawford said. “They deserve the best that I can and know how to offer, and that is what I like to think I provide when I make my baked goods.”
Crawford hopes to one day open a small shop, but for now she is doing the local farmer’s market circuit. Crawford is a full-time teacher so she working on finding a balance between being a mom, wife, teacher and baker.