From chia teff loaves to sweet potato baps, London bakers are taking the pain out of wheat-free bread

·2-min read

In the first Hunger Games film, the heroine Katniss Everdeen talks about what is driving her mission to fight the power. She says: “It’s not just that I don’t want to be alone. It’s him. I do not want to lose the boy with the bread.”

Such is the power of a loaf. The boy’s normcore wholemeal was enough to win over Everdeen, so imagine what she would make of London’s new flour power.

Bread in London has gone beyond the basics, and it doesn’t have to be loaded with gluten to taste delicious. Lonzo, in London Fields, makes a slowly fermented barley porridge bread, and at the Happy Bread Company its chia teff loaf is a bestseller. Teff is a natural grass that provides heaps of fibre and good bacteria for the gut. The loaf is packed with wholegrains and seeds and has a hearty dark crust, making it the perfect vessel for a smear of goat’s cheese or some strong cheddar and pickle.

Its sweet potato baps are just as good and have a keen following at Frame exercise studios, which does brunch events with Happy Bread.

It was set up by Karen Collins, who is gluten-intolerant and couldn’t find any bread that didn’t make her feel ill while also tasting good. She started out with the chia loaf and says: “Happy Bread Company’s bread is great for people looking for bread that will help them consume more dietary fibre through fermented wholegrains, nuts and seeds.” Lots of loaves contain a grass called teff which, Collins says, “contains high levels of a third type of dietary fibre known as resistant starch — basically, it reaches your colon intact and selectively feeds many strains of beneficial gut bacteria”.

Sourdough has also gone complex. Gail’s features potato, rosemary and nigella seeds. The spuds are mashed before being added to the mix, which makes for a light bread that keeps well. This month it is also doing fig and fennel bloomers and pecan and cranberry wreaths.

Meanwhile, at Fabrique in Hoxton the rye sourdough is served warm from the oven with added almonds, hazelnuts, apricots and raisins — think a bready Christmas cake.

If you want to impress someone like Katniss Everdeen use your loaf — there are plenty to choose from.


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