Gluten Free

January 13, 2014

Before you ask, I will confess:  We are not going to offer gluten-free bread.  We will make breads made without wheat but we are not going to have any without any gluten.

There’s no point in making bread for people who really have celiac disease.  Our store is going to be suffused with wheat and rye gluten; it will be in the air, on the ceiling and the walls.  Those with celiac won’t want even to come into the bakery, I fear. Wheat

As for the gluten-intolerant, we will be making breads in traditional ways and making them with organic flours and grains; so some gluten-intolerant people may find that our breads are digestible.

As for those who avoid wheat because that is a currently fashionable way to eat, all I can say is that we are going to be a very glutinous store and we’ll never see Gwyneth Paltrow at Bread Furst.

There is one more reason for our not offering gluten-free bread.  I have not been able to make one I like; nor have I tasted one I like.  They always seem to me dense and gummy and very poor substitutes for well-made bread.

I don’t take it as lightly as I am making it appear.  I certainly would dislike having to avoid foods made with wheat.  At least 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease and no one knows exactly why.  Is it environmental?  Is it because we have changed so much the genetics of wheat?

There are as well who-knows-how-many people who are gluten-intolerant, those who feel slightly queasy or more than slightly when they eat bread made with wheat, sometimes other grains too.  There is some indication that some of those people can eat bread that is well made, that is to say bread made in traditional ways with traditional grains.  We’ll be doing that.

And then there are the 1.6 million people who avoid gluten because that is a current dietary style.  What can I say?

My own dietary perspective that certainly will be reflected at Bread Furst is that what counts most in a healthy diet is prudence and balance.  We are going to offer at the store foods that lean heavily on vegetables and grains.  We are going to make breads from whole grains and ancient grains and our breads will be made from organic flours and grains.  And our pastries and desserts – cookies and the like – will be modestly sized.

We won’t be a health food store and every food we make will taste good – at least in our mouths.  At the end, that’s what counts most to us.

  1. Lisa Newmann says:

    Dear Mark,

    I love what you write. Our passions are aligned.

    xoox, Lisa

  2. Dave says:

    That’s odd, Gwyneth emailed me to meet her there when you open to buy some precious, gluten free items. xoxo Dave

  3. Madalyn marcus says:

    I think you should keep in mind that using sprouted flours for breads and using unblanced almond flours for some baked goods would be a thoughtful accomodation for those like myself that are gluten intolerant. So far, no one here in Washington is doing sprouted breads. Bistro le Pic offers gluten free almond flour brownies. For some reason, gluten intolerant diets are able to tolerate the bread in Europe. No one seems to know why. So when you mention European grains, you do not actually mean they were grown in Europe, but more stylistically?

    • I love breads made from sprouted flours for the wonderful flavors of them. You can count on us to include sprouted grain breads in our whole grain and ancient grain lines.

      I think experimenting with sweets made from nut flours is a good idea too.


  4. Casey says:

    Your argument that you cannot find a gluten free bread that you like is a bit of a cop out. Sure, it isn’t going to taste good to you–you can eat bread with gluten. Those of us who fit into the gluten intolerant category would gladly eat bread that tastes a little less delicious to avoid feeling ill.

    Yes, you making gluten free bread would benefit me as a gluten intolerant invidual, but it would also benefit you. There is a lack of good gluten free bakeries in DC. You could be the go-to place for gluten free bread in NW DC and people would come to your store just for it. It seems like a missed opportunity for you and the gluten free NW community.

    • It does sound like a cop-out. I don’t really want us to be the place where people go for gluten-free bread. I want us to be the place that people go to because the breads, desserts, and foods are so good. All our energies are being devoted to creating a neighborhood bakery whose offerings are really wonderful.

      To do that we are going to use as much as we can local ingredients and organic ingredients and as much as possible we are finding heirloom grains. I hope that our efforts to avoid highly hybridized grains will enable some gluten-intolerant customers to eat our breads without problems. Let’s try that first and then see what additional efforts are necessary.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We live very nearby, yet we have never been to your bakery. I have a young, gluten-free child (by necessity, not by fashion, which you so haughtily disdain) and you offer nothing for her to eat. When you write-off all those people you choose not serve, remember to multiply by 4 or so.

  6. Nearly all our foods are gluten-free and we have one gluten free cake. We’ll expand our ice cream program as warm weather begins; and perhaps sometime I will be able to make a gluten-free cookie that I like enough to offer all customers.

    I understand that your child, being gluten-sensitive, may miss out on treats that other children can enjoy; and I am sorry about that. But there are other bakeries in the city that specialize in making gluten-free breads and sweets. It is just not what we do.

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