This is a tough issue to tackle. Let's clear the air and start from the beginning. What is gluten?? It's a protein that forms when you mix certain flours with water. It forms a sort of network that gives the dough structure and shape. It also traps the gas released by yeast during fermentation, giving the dough it's ability to rise and develop a lovely, airy crumb. (Side Bar Bread Lesson: Baker's talk about bread in two parts, the crust and the crumb. The crust is the crunchy outside bit, and the crumb is everything on the inside that's not part of the crust.)
Unfortunately a significant number of people have medical issues that prevent them from eating foods containing gluten. Additionally, some folks choose to avoid gluten for personal or dietary reasons. To this second crowd I would suggest trying some slowly fermented, sourdough, whole grain breads, which are well known to be easily digestible and rather quite healthy. Conveniently, I know someone who would love to provide you with some of those selfsame breads. Unfortunately, even the most healthy glutenous breads can cause severe health problems for some people.
I have tons of sympathy for those trying to live without gluten. I have a hard time imagining life without thick slices of good sourdough toast at breakfast. I'd probably ever fry and egg again. Unfortunately there's a huge gulf in the quality of gluten free bread and conventional breads, and our gluten intolerant friends only bread options are pretty awful. I would love to fill the gap and help our gluten free friends in this regard, but there are a couple of road blocks in the way.
The way I see it there are two big problems with gluten free bread. One, it's very hard to make a good loaf of bread without gluten. I've never seen it done, and I'm not even sure it's possible. It's hard to get inspired about something when the best outcome is likely to be mediocre. Two, often times gluten free breads contain funny ingredients that I don't want to bake with. For example, here's an ingredient list for Udi's Gluten Free White Sandwich Bread.
I can make beautiful, delicious, and healthy breads using only flour, water, salt, and yeast. For me, this simplicity is part of the pleasure and appeal of baking. For gluten free breads much of that appeal is lost.
Summary: Gluten free bread is generally bad. To make gluten free bread "good" one uses weird stuff to make the dough behave as if it were glutenous. I don't approve of making bad bread or bread with weird stuff in it.
I'd love to figure out how to make good gluten free bread without weird stuff, but I don't know when or if I'll be able to take on that challenge. For the immediate future I'm sorry to say that our gluten free comrades must make due with those nutritive blocks of bread-like substance down at the super market. My sincere condolences.
I'd love to hear what you guys think. Please let me know if you have some must try gluten free recipes!
Regarding an opening date: The factory where my oven will be made shuts for the month of August. I didn't place my order in time to get the oven built and shipped before the factory shuts down. I'm still expecting to be up and running in October. I'll post again when I have a better idea.
Have a great weekend!
432 McClaine St.