Celiacs Celebrate: Treats Without Wheat at Our Daily Bread
For the increasing number of people who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance, there’s now reason to rejoice: Our Daily Bread in Chatham, NY has perfected the recipes for a bevy gluten-free baked goods that don’t sacrifice a gram of flavor. This is great news for those who thought they had bid a final farewell to moist brownies, buttery blueberry scones, classic apple pie, and chewy, nutty sandwich bread when they swore off gluten. The extensive line of products, packaged under the label “The Gluten Free Bakery,” is the brainchild of the foodie family behind the original Our Daily Bread café on Main Street, as well as the recently opened, expanded café and bakery on Hudson Avenue, located next to Destino Cocina Mexicana, the family’s restaurant and margarita bar.
For owner Zvi Cohen (right), the catalyst behind the gluten-free line was a massive, costly Italian Mondial oven that was originally custom-built for Our Daily Bread and cemented into the floor of the bakery at 54 Main Street. When Our Daily Bread was preparing to move its baking operation to the larger Hudson Avenue storefront next to Destino’s, Cohen was faced with a choice: destroy the oven and leave the space for another tenant, or make it the centerpiece of a new venture. He went with option number two, and the gluten-free line seemed a natural direction to take.
“Everybody knows someone who has celiac or gluten intolerance,” says Cohen, whose sons Gavriel and Yoni, respectively, run Destino and Our Daily Bread. “When people come in, they don’t buy just one thing, they buy three, and send one to their sister or a friend. Gluten free is here to stay, and it’s going to grow.” A protein found in wheat and many other grains, gluten is not only a no-go for those with celiac (a hereditary inability to digest gluten), but has also been blamed for digestive problems among as many as 50% of Americans, according to some nutritionists.
Once every speck of wheat was mopped, vacuumed, and scoured out of the original bakery, the next step was the creation of a product that would rival the gluten-free breads already on the market, which all too often fall short in terms of taste, texture, or both. The Gluten Free Bakery’s finely calibrated bread recipes were developed over four months by baker Tim McGuire, who made 37 test batches to achieve the ideal balance among the main ingredients, which include buckwheat, sorghum, fava flour, brown rice flour, egg whites, and canola oil. The bakery sources as many local and regional ingredients as possible, a quest made easier by the fact that New York State is one of the largest producers of buckwheat in the country.
“Tim went about the process the way I imagine Mendel did his cross-breeding of pea plants,” says Cohen. “The criteria was: It had to taste good. We would not send something out that didn’t have a delicious flavor.”
Michele Reilly; photo by Dale Stewart
The final product is substantial but not too dense, firm enough to slice easily, and able to handle sandwich fillings without crumbling mid-bite. The bread selection includes caraway, cinnamon raisin, buckwheat, and original sandwich bread, and the tempting array of sweet gluten-free treats includes lemon, carrot, and flourless chocolate cake; chocolate chip and ginger cookies; almond cookies dotted with jam; cranberry and blueberry scones; macaroons; and more. The café also offers a full menu of breakfast and lunch dishes, many of them gluten free, and continues to carry a selection of conventional baked goods and menu items as well.
Cohen makes deliveries of gluten-free goods several times a week to accounts in the Hudson Valley, Massachusetts (including Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health), and beyond, so celiac sufferers in our region no longer have to resort to defrosting cardboard-like slices. “What’s better than fresh bread out of the oven?” Cohen asks, adding, “I’m really proud to be in this field.” —Tresca Weinstein
The Gluten Free Bakery at Our Daily Bread
54 Main St., Chatham, NY
Tues - Fri, 7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sat & Sun, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.