I am passionate about shopping locally, supporting farmers and producers direct rather than handing my cash to the supermarkets, which is why I love award winning Brockley Market. Half farmers market, half street food destination, I have long enjoyed the heady mix of muddy veg, incredible coffee (actually roasted in Lewisham) and the option to sneak an early lunch at one of London’s best street food vans.
But one stall I loathe to attend is Astons Bakehouse. It’s chinese torture for me. I love looking at all the different handmade loaves from Sheepdrove Farm in Berkshire – I buy the best slow risen sourdough for my boys in the hope that supermarket bread won’t increase their chances of developing my dreaded condition. But recently I saw nestled in the corner a little wrapped brick shaped loaf. It was a gluten free bread.
Now I love to make my own breads, especially after attending GF Baking & Living and Adriana’s courses, but will buy bread if it’s a loaf with simple ingredients, made by a person – Artisan Gluten Free Bakery – for example. So I bought a loaf to see what it was like. The opportunity to buy a gf loaf locally would be wonderful, I hoped.
On inspecting the loaf at home, I found there was little information about where it was made, so got in touch with the bakery. Whilst I prefer a total gluten free production environment, if the right procedures are put in place, I am happy to buy from a wheat-y place. Syd, the owner of Astons got in touch with the following in-depth information:
“Whilst the ingredients are guaranteed Gluten Free by our suppliers of raw ingredients, the loaf is made in a bakery that produces wheat and other gluten containing products. For example, Wheat, Rye and Barley breads.However, we do try to minimise cross contamination from other ingredients by feeding and mixing the starter by hand on day 1 and this is done before other work is done in the bakery. Day 2, again before other work starts all other components are mixed with the ferment. Rack is covered enclosing the mix after scaling and putting in dedicated tins. Day 3, Baking off before other work starts again, Cooled for 3 hours in our packing room and wrapped. Although we state on the label it is produced in a wheat environment we do point out to customers again that this is so.”
The bread itself had a fantastic sourdough flavour, was a little dense (which Syd assures me is being worked on) but toasted up was much lighter. They don’t use gums, aware of the sensitivities some have to them, so a very natural product that I would recommend, if you come across Astons Bakery, which are at many farmers markets across the city.