Could you talk about that process? You use a fermentation process that helps break down the gluten. Gluten intolerance is a huge thing now, but you state how your passion is making gluten bread. How does the process help bridge that divide?
Victoria: We're a wild yeast bakery. [Meaning] all of our breads are leavened off of our sourdough culture, which is just a combination of flour and water that's fermented to grow really healthy yeast bacteria to process our bread.
We develop all of our breads over a three-day build—three stages. What that does is ferment the bread, breaking down the gluten and a lot of the complex carbohydrates, allowing the bread to be more nutritious, more digestible, and honestly more delicious. It's flour water and salt and you can taste so much more complexity with a much more interesting flavor profile the longer you let it ferment.
Emily: It's easier on the digestive tract because it's not like instant yeast in your bread where you're going to have a build-up of phytic acid that prevents you from actually absorbing the nutrients when you digest the bread. Because we go through the three-day fermentation, the phytic acid dissipates out of the bread so nutrients are more bioavailable to you. So people regularly come up to us and are like, "This is great on my digestive tract."
Victoria: There are folks who haven't been able to eat wheat in a really long time and they'll come one week to try a sample—like a tiny bite—and then the next week will try two samples and a bagel. And [by the end] they want half a dozen saying, "I haven't been able to eat bread like this in years."
Emily: Yeah, a woman actually told me—I don't know if it's true as I haven't been able to research it—but back in the 50s they apparently doubled the amount of yeast that was supposed to go into bread to quicken the process. [This] is why a lot of people have the intolerance because we've adapted to that model. It's prevented us from absorbing the gluten for so long. So this reversal back to fermented bread or whatnot—it's how our body's designed to digest it.
Victoria: That's how we've been eating bread for ten thousand years.
Emily: So, we love gluten because we know gluten's not bad. It's just the way that bread is made that can prevent people from feeling the positive effects bread gives.
Why bagels, bread, and granola?
Victoria: Because it's the trifecta of awesome. [laughter]
Emily: We can talk about our marketing surveys [laughter]
It was always bread—right? We were part of the collective and we were really honing our skills and our knowledge around bread. Then Allison and I attended a kneading conference in Maine and she got a chance to essentially intern with Jeffrey Hamelman who, if you know anything about bread, is the Bread God of our time. He's the head baker at King Arthur Flour Bakery [http://www.kingarthurflour.com/]; he wrote a book called Bread—
Victoria: The seminal book on bread. [laughter]
Emily: Edition One and Edition Two. [laughter]
Jeffrey was actually teaching a workshop while we were there, so Allison sort of learned—
Victoria: She was his assistant—
Emily: So she was with him through this whole process and got to pick his brain during the entire conference. We were in the car driving back from Maine and we were like, "You want to make bagels? Let's make bagels." And then we told Tori and she was, "Great! I lived in New York and I'm ready to make bagels." From then on it was sort of excitement about bagels.
Victoria: Bagels are part of the equation.
Granola I think was the natural add-on. We wanted something that was a complementary product that was different than bread and bagels, but fit into that flavor profile. We started experimenting—we wanted some wild and crazy granolas and we got really creative in the kitchen. We started the line-up with our three basics, which are Cranberry Almond, Apricot Walnut, and Tahini Fig. We're looking to grow from there and I've been really excited to see how—
Emily: Do you want to tease your new granola?
Victoria: We have a new granola in our kitchen right now. It's—can I tell him? It's Blueberry Ginger. It's going to be awesome.
So granola has been pretty popular. We've gotten them into some retail locations including Lexington Co-op
. We've also collaborated with Lake Effect Ice Cream
to serve granola as a topping.
Emily: Allison, how is Lake Effect using our granola? Sorry to just jump in there.
Allison Ewing: They are doing it in a sundae. It's an Adirondack Trail Mix concept. They're either going to have a scoop of ice cream sitting on a plate of the granola or they're going to roll the scoop. They're testing those things—probably as we speak.
Emily: [To Allison] He asked a question earlier and I always like your response to it. It's about gluten so I don't know if you wanted to expand on why we love gluten.
Allison: Modern process bread—with the invention of instant yeast meant that you could take something from a bag of flour to cooled and in a bag in three hours, which means you've lost the fermentation. The gluten protein is then still in a really challenging form to digest and also it's not broken down to the point where you can absorb the vitamins and minerals successfully.
We ferment ours for twelve hours—if you do it that long it means the protein chains break down into something that you can digest way easier. The vitamins and minerals in the flour become more bioavailable or easily absorbed. If you're eating a fermented loaf of white bread—a sourdough loaf of white bread—you're getting more nutrition from it than a non-fermented loaf of whole wheat. Which is crazy.
People don't know. They're like, "Do you make whole wheat?"
"Yeah, but our white bread is also better for you than most of the stuff you're probably already eating."
We've had gluten-intolerant people come to us who have done some research asking, "Do you long ferment your bread?" We're like, "Yeah." And they say, "Great. I know that works for me. I can eat it." They might still get the headache, but they won't get most of the really troubling symptoms.
The other thing fermentation does is make the flavor way better because the sugars can break into something more complex. There's a sour; there's a sweetness. It makes the texture better. So, as well as being more accessible to people who have problems with gluten, we find it gives a lot of benefits in general.