“Is this bread gluten free?” A question we are often asked by well meaning albeit maybe visually challenged gluten free cheerleaders. We love you guys and truly believe in your gluten sensitivities but first of all, if its gluten free it ain’t bread. Bread has gluten. Yes? Yoghurt has active bacterial culture; bread has gluten. Call it want you want; cardboard, drywall, or insulation but ‘gluten free’ is a descriptor that disqualifies a loaf as real bread. Tofu ain’t chicken no matter how much you try.
Cheap photo shot? True, but you got this far so might as well keep calm and carry on…
Next time you see a loaf of bread of any size or loft, call it oven spring, it is not gluten free. Our bread is lofty. You can see that.
Gluten free bread is kinda flat. Opposite of lofty. You can see that too.
Second, we believe commercial yeast is also at blame. In a gluten free nutshell here is why. Commercial yeast is designed to react very quickly and doesn’t allow sufficient time for enzymes to break down starch molecules. That means your digestive system must work very hard to finish the process of breaking down the starches and in some people that can lead to a bloated feeling. Hence the term gluten sensitivity. A naturally leavened bread like ours mitigates that demand on your digestive system and thus can be better tolerated.
True sourdough breads are made using a starter that contains a culture of naturally occurring yeasts and lactobacilli or lactic acid bacteria. The yeasts produce carbon dioxide (CO2) that makes the bread rise and the bacteria produce lactic and acetic acids that affect characteristics including taste, texture and sourness of the finished bread. In the right quantity, the acids also act as a preservative, slowing the onset of mould – a much more natural method than the spraying of calcium propionate that many modern factory loaves get.
Today is June 28th and the weather of late has been crappy. We are establishing the wettest and coolest June on record for the Similkameen Valley. So wet and cool that I have removed the mulch from the early softneck garlic to assist maturation in the field. This requires extra work. Something I don’t take lightly. Most farmers are concerned about a late start to the tomato and pepper crops. The same concerns as the last two seasons. Seems to me a cool damp June is the new normal. Get used to it and the old normal will seem a blessing. Glass half full or empty.
Our world is full of activity. Up and at it early each morning. The bakery is doing well and farmersdotter is slowly developing a following of breadies. Folks who regularly stop by the market and even cycle up the drive investigating the place with the big wood fired oven. “Got any bread?” inquires the cyclist. “The folks at the organic winery sent me here.” Because it wasn’t a bake day we were not able to offer the cyclist any bread but we did recruit her as a field hand. And that is a good way to get a free loaf at the end of a work day.
Over the next couple of days we will be planting the summer cover crop in the fallow fields. In the meantime our conscripted carpenter friend has been good to his word. His fix for the bedroom floor worked.
There are new sill plates with engineered joists and 3/4 T&G sub floor. It will be buttoned up tonight and we can at least get a coat of primer on all the surfaces before guests arrive. Not the Four Seasons but it ain’t camping either.
Some images from our last bake. farmersdotter raises the bread in bannetons prior to baking. The bread, usually three at a time, is carefully placed on a large paddle or ‘peel’ then inserted into the oven.
We would like to eventually get set up to bake a good Montreal style bagel. We need to retool a bit and that will take a little time. The test recipe, however worked well. Poppy seed is my favourite!
Perhaps the most gratifying time of the bake is once the bread comes out of the oven. It is placed on the resting racks and after only a few seconds the bread begins to ‘sing’ a lovely cracking sounding chorus as the crusty exterior cools.
The last two weeks have been very active with farmersdotter in the bakery preparing fresh bread and the garlic competing with the weeds for supremacy in the field. This past weekend we completed our third Penticton Farmers Market.
We were really excited and relieved to have gone through all the bread that was baked. Difficult to estimate how much bread to prepare for the market but fortunately we ran out with only a few minutes to spare. We prefer to run a little short and limit wastage although the chickens at Corey Brown’s Blackbird Organics will be a little ticked not to receive their portion of bread leftovers. Corey just had an article written about his Mobile Chicken Fortress on The Ruminant
Speaking of leftovers, artisan bakers have a difficult time deciding what to do with left over starter. The starter, which will virtually double in weight with each 24 hour feeding, really adds up over time. If you begin on Sunday with 500 grams then by Friday evening you could be faced with 16 kilos of heavenly smelling expensive goo. Precious and vital, one does not want to jeopardize the starter but frugality demands you prepare only enough for a successful bake. Thanks to bakers percentages farmersdotter is much better with math.
We also had a few distinguished guests over the weekend. On Friday and quite by accident and perhaps by fate, Florin from Transilvania Peasant Bread on West 4th in Point Grey and Baking Stories popped by with his partner Lisa en route to Nelson. What a wonderful couple. Florin, breaking a promise to resist flour for the weekend, decided to assist with our bake. farmersdotter said there was talk about a future baking workshop but that is all mostly a rumour. Saturday saw the arrival of Pat, Patty, Tamara and Caroline from Sunnyside Natural Market located in Kensington, a vibrant shopping district of Calgary. They were on a farm tour of their Southern BC suppliers. Lastly on Sunday we entertained Tim based in the Whole Foods out of Kitsilano. We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of quiche with local asparagus before a tour of our farm. We look forward to the four BC Whole Foods outlets supplying farmersdotter organics fresh garlic this season.
In preparation for todays opening of the Penticton Farmers Market, we had a very busy go of it yesterday on our first bake. farmersdotter has nurtured her starter for about a month now and it turned out very well. Very active, full of good boozy smells and bubbles. It will bake a very respectable sour dough. At 2:00pm we were ready to move the dough from the mixer for the first rise.
Throughout the day we had been keeping a close eye on the oven. Trying to gauge the best time to remove the fire and let the oven temperature even out in time for the doughs second rise in the beautiful bannetons, the hand made wood baskets used as bread molds.
We added an Olive/Rosemary bread to the bake for grins and giggles.
By 11:00pm the oven temperature was averaging 450f throughout and the bread was performing well in their little wooden nests. It was time to wash the oven floor of ash residue, pack it full of fresh bread and see if the work of the past few weeks would pay off in the first bake. It did. The bread at rest smelled wonderful and was ‘singing’ for quite a while.
It turned out we were able to sell all the bread that was baked. We received wonderful comments and encouragement.