Bake with Maria-Bread Making and being #glutensavvy

Gluten-free products are popping up everywhere lately. People are calling themselves gluten intolerant when in fact, they could just be eating the wrong things. Whilst there are people who genuinely suffer from caeliac disease, others simply cannot digest shop bought bulk manufactured loaves. 
I was invited to a bread course at Bake With Maria, to learn about gluten and what role it has in bread as well as making a few gluten free products ourselves. Maria Mayerhofer started the company in her own home, but with increasing popularity and demand for the lessons, she realised a domestic kitchen wasn't suitable. Maria opened The Baking Lab within easy reach from the Swiss Cottage Jubilee stop, making it easily accessible and allowing the company to expand and grow.

So what is gluten? 
Any type of baking that requires flour normally means there is gluten present. It is stringy and stretchy and helps shape ingredients into pasta, bread and other goods. We learned that while a lot of people believed they were gluten-intolerant, it was actually the way the bread is processed that causes problems. If the fermentation time is reduced, the body cannot digest it as easily, therefore understandable as to why sourdough is favourable due to the long fermentation process.

We started the night by being given some bread to try, squeeze and play with to see the structure. Not having done this since I was a child, my inner kid enjoy rolling the industrial bread into a tiny ball, but with this came the understanding of why it can be so difficult for our bodies to then break this substance down.
Gluten-free bread is far more widely available now, but seeing the large list of ingredients on the packaging and tasting the sweetness of the product, it isn't something I would be willing to make into a bulky sandwich or dipping in my warm soup. Little do people  realise that it is chemicals which create the bounciness in bread and is tested before selling to make sure it has this desirable 'sqeezable' quality.
In contrast, breads made with alternative flours are fresh, delicious with flavours you can recognise, and ingredients that you don't have to guess the names of. They may not be squidgy, but what is actually better than homemade bread with a lovely crust?

Throughout the evening, we used flours from Shipton Mill, a creator of over 40 varieties of speciality flours that supply artisan and master bakers across the country. Passionate about flour, they create a product exceptional in quality without rushing the process found in commercially bought flours.
After hearing of the flour making process and tasting the product of these flours, it makes me think twice about where I buy my ingredients from.

We started by creating a rye bread dough which we could take home. Under the watchful eye of the professionals, we combined the few ingredients into something which would prove overnight and we could bake in the morning. With a short amount of hands-on time and no kneading involved this is a surprisingly easy make with very little effort.

Maria had kindle pre-prepared some dough so we could still bake and taste what they were going to be like. They were a  little rustic looking, which added to their appeal in my opinion, and were delicious. If you are able to eat gluten, then it is obvious to me to leave the gluten-free branded loaves on the shelves and opt for something fresher with few ingredients like this. The longer overnight fermnentation process would make the bread easier to digest than the shop-bought mass produced varieties.
Next came the multigrain baguette shaping. Another little cheat to save time meant that the dough had already been made and left to prove so we could get cracking at the shaping process. Artisan baker, Emmanueke Hadiandreou showed us the proper method, involving different folding and rolling techniques.
After shaping, the dough was left to prove again before being popped into the oven.
They came out beautifully golden and smelling divine. We took our own creations home with us, and it was difficult not to take a chunk out of the top on the tube home.
Arguably, one of the highlights of the evening was getting to try our creations. Served with butter, homous and cream cheese spreads, I think we were all convinced that we wouldn't be buying commercial loaves again, and would favour a little hands on time in our own kitchen to produce similiarly tasty loaves.

As well as taking our creations home Maria gave us some gift bags which also inluded a dough scraper (which has already been used) which really topped a great and informative evening.
Thanks to Maria and her team for hosting a great night and enlightening me on the bread making process and being a bit more #glutensavvy.


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