A Plea to Red Hen

Who better to bake gluten-free bread?

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By David Hammond

I'm a big fan of Red Hen bakery.

Before this Chicago-based bakery opened a location in Oak Park, I would stop by the Milwaukee Avenue store whenever I was in the area. Red Hen bread has excellent crust, clean taste and lots of variety; I applaud the work they've done to advance the cause of bread in Chicagoland.

At the Oak Park Farmers' Market last Saturday, I stopped by the Red Hen stand in hopes of getting some gluten-free bread.

As posted previously, I'm experimenting with a gluten-free diet. Although I've never been diagnosed with a gluten allergy, I have experienced positive benefits from a diet that relies more on corn, rice and other non-gluten grains.

To clarify, gluten is a protein substance that is found in wheat and a few other grains, and you can expect to find it in most bread, pasta, cake, etc.

Somewhat surprisingly, Red Hen doesn't carry gluten-free bread.

The woman at the farmers' market stand quite reasonably explained that to make gluten-free bread, they'd need a separate kitchen only for that bread.  This is true to the extent that some with celiac disease or other extreme gluten sensitivities cannot accept even a few grains of wheat-flour in their otherwise gluten-free bread.

However, a lot of people are not so sensitive, and bakeries like Bleeding Heart used to make largely gluten-free bread in the same kitchen as wheat flour products.

 

Some of the current literature even suggests that the term "gluten-free" may be applied to products that contain just a little gluten.

 

So, Red Hen, would you consider making some "low-gluten" bread.

 

Such a reduced gluten product would appeal to many of us who are not allergic to wheat, but would simply like to reduce our consumption of gluten.

There are lots of excellent rice and other non-wheat flours out there. Would you consider using some of that to make your excellent bread? I can't think of any bakery better than yours to experiment with making a bread, free of gluten, that would be in line with your already excellent selection of breads.

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