In typical baked goods, gluten is what produces structure (especially in bread), so bakers that decide to offer gluten-free items need to get imaginative — most develop their own flour blends — to create breads that have structural integrity. By the Way Bakery owner Helene Godin, did just that, and after many months of testing, introduced a line of artisan gluten-free bread made with a gluten-free flour mix. The breads, including dinner rolls, demi ficelles (“breakfast sticks”) in sea salt, rosemary, and seeded; mini baguettes, and rustic Parisian–style boules, launched May 3rd and are available at all four locations (Hastings, Greenwich, Upper East Side, Upper West Side). We talked to Godin, whose sweet offerings, just like her breads, are gluten-free, dairy-free, and certified pareve, to get the lowdown on her latest foray.
WM: Is this your first foray into gluten-free breads?
HG: No, we’ve been making oat challah since the fall of 2015. It took more than a year to develop that recipe. As a kosher bakery, we thought that was the most important bread to offer. Unlike the new line of breads, it’s oat-based, so it’s suitable for the blessing on Shabbat. It’s also great for French toast on Sunday morning.
WM: What was the impetus to start a gluten-free line of bread?
HG: Our customers have been clamoring for gluten-free bread since we opened our first store in May of 2011. Seeing the success of our challah (we often sell out on Fridays) really pushed us to find additional breads that worked for meals throughout the week. But it took months and months of testing. Maggie Flood, one of the bakers in the BTW kitchen, took the lead. She was incredibly tenacious — and it shows in the quality of the crust and crumb.
WM: How has the response been?
HG: We immediately received an incredible response. To quote one customer on Facebook, ‘I just bit into a fresh slice of this gorgeous loaf of bread. It is even better than imagined. OMG. You created perfection!’ The Pierre Hotel in Manhattan placed an order for 400 dinner rolls as soon as they heard about them. And we’re already looking to hire an additional baker to meet the demand.
WM: What is the type of flour(s) you use for your gluten-free breads?
HG: Our breads are made with a blend of white rice flour, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, and tapioca. The exception is our challah, which also contains oat flour.) Unlike many gluten-free types of bread on the market, we don’t use dairy in any of our recipes. Our bread is also soy-free, a nice plus.
WM: What are the challenges to making good gluten-free bread?
HG: Gluten is a protein found in wheat and, to a lesser extent, barley, rye, and spelt. Gluten molecules are activated when flour is mixed with water. The gluten swells and forms long protein chains. When a leavening agent like yeast is added, gasses are produced and the protein chains are inflated, which causes the dough to rise. This gives the dough its structure as it bakes. Replicating the process without gluten requires the use of fats, sugars, and alchemy.
WM: Is gluten-free movement waning, steady, or still growing? What do you hear the most as to why people say they want to eat gluten free?
HG: If our sales are any indication, the gluten-free market is growing at a rapid pace. Of course we have many customers who, unfortunately, have celiac disease. We also have lots of customers who say they feel less bloated on a gluten-free diet. Or that it’s easier to digest gluten-free products. But my favorite comments are from those customers who have no dietary restrictions. They love our products because they’re delicious regardless of the ingredients.
By the Way Bakery
574 Warburton Ave, Hastings-on-Hudson
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