KIRKLAND – When life handed Allyn Davis lemons, he made cherry-lemon cupcakes.
The 46-year-old was working as a purchaser for a number of Rockford-area businesses when he and his wife, Wilasinee, had their second child. Putting both kids in day care basically negated his pay check – in good weeks.
“What I was making at my job at the time, and what we were paying out in day care costs, some weeks it was a wash,” Davis said. “Some weeks, we actually had to take some of my wife’s pay to make up for the shortage of my pay, because I didn’t always get overtime.”
His wife is a chemistry technician at the nuclear plant in Byron, so her salary and benefits meant it only made sense for him to become the stay-at-home parent.
When the kids went down for their nap, Davis was lost.
“It got kind of boring, honestly,” he said. “I’d worked all my life. Daytime TV was never an option. It was driving me crazy.”
So he started baking breads and desserts. It started as a way to save a few bucks and provide for his family. Then the rave reviews starting coming in – from everyone, including the ladies in his former office who barely knew him.
“More and more, people who didn’t have to be nice were saying they liked it,” he said.
For more than two years now, Allyn’s Going Bananas has been a viable business. Davis rises before the sun most days, and works each day of the week, in order to turn orders around within three days.
In addition to a wide, mouthwatering variety of breads, Davis makes gooey cakes, cupcakes and drunken desserts – he adds the booze after they come to room temperature, so it actually works.
“You’re going to feel it,” he said.
He’s learning new tricks all the time. He’s started using cocoa powder to keep his chocolate cakes from sticking to the pan – rather than flour. He’s taken up cheesecake.
“I love cheesecake – who doesn’t?” he said. “I mean what a decadent dessert.”
Virtually all his ingredients are real, and fresh – he uses food coloring for frosting, since juices don’t blend well, and cause frosting to break down.
Sure, his stuff is pricier than at the grocery store, but that should be expected.
“At a grocery store, it’s a frozen cake made somewhere completely off-site. They bring it in, thaw it out and ice your name on it,” he said. “I have two creeds: I’m going to bake you happy, no matter what you get. The other one is good cake isn’t cheap, and cheap cake isn’t good.”
He’s got one request: If you’re not going to buy from him, bake it yourself.
“Find the time to do it – unless it’s an elaborate five-tier wedding cake,” he said.
He tears up as he talks about just how good baking has been for his soul, and what it means to have tapped an unknown talent.
“I’ve always worked for somebody else, and now I’m working for me and my family,” he said. “It’s very freeing and enabling.”