WHEN Amanda Reninger started experimenting with vegan baking in 2014, the Florida transplant in Muncie didn’t have much to go on. A cholesterol scare had sent her and her husband, Kyle, in the direction of veganism at a time when plant-based ingredients were scarce and the methods a little rough around the edges. “There weren’t a ton of resources beyond a couple of vegan baking blogs. I ended up finding some cookbooks that I could trust—because I did a whole lot of trial and error and made some really gross things,” Reninger says.
She started experimenting with cupcakes baked for friends, which led to a baking business out of a certified ghost kitchen, which led to a spiffy brick-and-mortar cafe, Sea Salt & Cinnamon, in downtown Muncie. There, the daily offerings include meatless savories such as a Buffalo chickpea-salad sandwich and an Off the Cobb salad that contains carrot bac’n, as well as a display case full of breakfast sweets. Indy folks can order online, stock up at Reninger’s Garfield Park Farmers Market stand, or find some sweet inventory at places like Bovaconti Coffee, MOTW, and Nine Lives Cat Cafe.
A lifelong student of music, Reninger holds degrees in opera and classical singing, which is how she ended up at Ball State University, attending grad school. She spent a summer performing in Italy and served as the cantor at her local Jewish temple. These days, however, she composes beautiful things with plant-based cake batter and buttercream. “Music is all math, with a creative component to it,” she says. “Just like baking.”