I remember when gluten-free was only a vaguely familiar catch phrase to most of us. I recall knowing merely that it had something to do with wheat and that some people were told by doctors or nutritionists that certain undesirable physical symptoms might be alleviated by the absence of gluten in their diets.
These days, however, gluten-free is a part of our collective vernacular. Most people know someone who cannot tolerate gluten, or they are someone who cannot tolerate gluten. In fact, if you are reading this article, you most assuredly fall into that category. There are those with wheat allergies, those with gluten intolerance, and those with celiac disease. Whatever the spectrum, the reality is that the diagnosis of these conditions has increased fivefold over the last 50 years or so.
Fortunately, the market now abounds with gluten-free choices for various products. Most of these products are processed foods, however, like crackers, chips, cookies, and pastas. And while it is nice to have these, they don’t make up many of the staples we base our daily meals around. What most travelers on the gluten-free journey are searching for are breads and baked goods that are more wholesome and easy to fit into a diet that is familiar. Americans eat sandwiches, a lot of sandwiches. We also enjoy biscuits and other breakfast breads. And we certainly don’t want to miss out on some of our national treasures, such as brownies and muffins.
We have certain expectations, however, from our baked goods; and many gluten-free types of bread have missed the mark. The taste of many gluten-free products has an aftertaste or a strange texture that is hard to reconcile. So, the hunt-and-find for quality gluten-free breads and baked goods is still here with us.
Some innovative bakers, though, have managed to create some very satisfactory gluten-free baked goods. While it is to be expected that bread and pastries without wheat will certainly taste differently, there is no reason why creative bakers cannot find recipes that are also pleasing to the palate. As we watch our neighborhood grocery stores amp up their gluten-free products, it is important that we as consumers communicate what we want and don’t want. Keep an eye open for new products from emerging bakeries as they get the point and continue to adapt their goods to meet our dietary and palatary needs.
Shawna Akers (Blog Editor)