How to prepare gluten-free bread at home (and why it's worth a try) – Italian Cuisine


Here are the recipes of chef Antonio Paolino made with the special flours of Schär, the South Tyrolean brand specializing in gluten free products

Who thinks that flours and products gluten free are a relatively recent phenomenon, fueled by scientific advances and increasing consumer attention, they are mistaken. These products and the crops from which they derive actually sink their long roots in Italian history and traditions, long before we started talking about celiac disease is food intolerance. Yes, because the so-called minor cereals such as millet and oats, together with the pseudocereals such as buckwheat, have for centuries been protagonists on the tables of the boot, especially in the alpine areas, as an important complement to a diet substantially based on cheeses, game and products harvested from the forest. Agricultural historians know it well, and they know it just as well Schär, a South Tyrolean brand established in 1981 in Postal, in the province of Bolzano, which decided to start the project as part of its commitment to the gluten-free diet Re-Cereal, dedicated precisely to the rediscovery and enhancement, also in technological terms, of these precious, ancient crops.

Gluten-free flours in Italian history

"As in all families, the coexistence of millet, sorghum and oats must not have been easy, not to mention the buckwheat that was typical of the family, that of the triticum, was not, with knowing brothers like wheat, barley and spelled." That's how Professor Danilo Gasparini, professor of History of Agriculture and Food History at theUniversity of Padua, introduces the question linked to the cultivation of naturally gluten-free products in the context of the domestication of cereals. "The development of these crops – he explains – begins in the early Middle Ages, when the population growth led to the anthropization of the Alpine and Apennine areas. THE'oats, for example, was imported from Central Europe and of Asian origin: it was considered by the Romans a sort of degeneration of wheat, and found a place in mixture breads in the serious moments of famine; or it was used to make pultes, polenta, with almond milk. The mile, instead, it was the most consumed cereal throughout the Middle Ages and most of the modern age, until the arrival of maize. Its use was decisive in times of famine, used both as a base for the polenta, and as a flour in bread making. And then there is the story of the buckwheat, which already intrigues by the name. Originally from Asia, arrived in Germany via the Black Sea, it spreads especially since the modern age in the Alpine arc, to then invade the countryside and plains up to the Apennines. His cultivation will then retire in the alpine areas, from the Cadore to the Tyrol to the Valtellina, where it will become a fundamental element of the gastronomic tradition .

Buckwheat (photo: Getty)

The Re-Cereal research

Becoming aware of how these crops, alternative or marginal only to appearance, have in fact marked our history convinced Schär to invest in an important project carried out in the brand's Research and Development laboratories in Trieste. Launched in November 2016, and destined to last until July of this year, Re-Cereal aims at recovery and to the development of so-called minor cereals and buckwheat, through genetic improvement activities and optimization of agronomic and grain processing techniques. "From the transformation of these products we can get flour, flakes or bran rich from a nutritional point of view and absolutely tasty from a sensory point of view -, stresses the doctor Polenghi Ombretta, food technologist at the head of Schär's research and innovation department. – Some varieties identified in the laboratory have proved to be more suitable to achieve a certain effect on the finished product, in terms functional, sensory is nutritional. For example, the impact of flours obtained from different varieties of millet and buckwheat on a series of bread prototypes was studied; in this regard it has been shown that the seeds of some varieties have a better effect on the bread obtained, not only from the point of view of taste, but also as regards the smell, consistency and homogeneity of the crumb .

Some points to clarify about gluten-free products

Needless to turn around for too long: the ever increasing attention given to the "gluten-free" universe in recent years has led to greater popularity of these products, from pasta to biscuits, from leavened to flour; but also, unfortunately, to a series of incorrect information that have made their way among public opinion as real urban legends. "In many, for example, they are convinced that gluten hurts regardless, regardless of allergies or intolerances; others, on the other hand, think that gluten-free products are generally more caloric: in both cases we are faced with beautiful and good falsehoods -, comments the nutritionist Elena Dogliotti. – What is important to understand is that a gluten-free product can be fundamental for those suffering from celiac disease or for those who are subject to intolerances, and at the same time can represent one of the many, possible food alternatives for the rest of the population. There are those who choose it for need, therefore, and those who choose it for the taste of trying something different: two different positions, but both more than legitimate . Yeah, but on the flavor front? If once gluten-free foods were considered a little punitive, because they are not tasty or with non-ideal consistencies, today it is no longer the case. Rather. Schär, for example, has gradually perfected his proposals, ranging from biscuits to bread, from rusks to flour, sold as a mix designed specifically for different preparations. Be careful, though: the absence of gluten requires that the flours in question are used in a slightly different way than the most common types of wheat. Here are two precious ones recipes of the chef Antonio Paolino to prepare a good home too 100% gluten free bread.

Bread with Buckwheat flour

Ingredients

400 g of Mix-B Schär
60 g of Mix It Rustico Schär
60 g of buckwheat flour
12 g of fine salt
15 g of extra virgin olive oil
10 g of granulated sugar
470 g of warm water
18 g of baking powder

Method

In the bowl of a planetary mixer equipped with a hook, combine the Mix B flour, Mix It Rustico, buckwheat flour, hot water, granulated sugar and baking powder. Operate the planetary mixer to form the dough. It will take about 5 minutes. Add the extra virgin olive oil and allow it to absorb. Finally add the salt and add to the mixture. Form the spheres from about 50 g. and let them rise for about 2 hours. After cooking, bake at 170 degrees C. For about 20 ’.

Bread with Integral Rice flour

Ingredients

400 g of Mix-B Schär
120 g of brown rice flour
18 g of fine salt
20 g of extra virgin olive oil
10 g of granulated sugar
420 g of warm water
22 g of brewer's yeast

Method

In the bowl of a planetary mixer equipped with a hook, combine the flour mix b, the rustic mix, the rice flour, the hot water, the granulated sugar and the baking powder. Operate the planetary mixer to form the dough. It will take about 5 minutes. Add the extra virgin olive oil and allow it to absorb. Finally add the salt and add to the mixture. Form the spheres from about 50 g. and let them rise for about 2 hours. After cooking, bake at 170 degrees C. For about 20 ’.

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