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Friday, April 9, 2010

S.F. Rising: Mariposa Bakery's Gluten-Free Sandwich Loaf

Posted By on Fri, Apr 9, 2010 at 10:21 AM

This loaf is smaller than it appears.
  • This loaf is smaller than it appears.
A weekly

survey of bread in San Francisco ― the baked

and the steamed, the artisan and the novelty.

Sandwich Bread

Mariposa Baking Company kiosk in the Ferry Building Marketplace, 510-595-0955.
Price: $6.25

The central problem of gluten-free baking is, of course, simulacrum. I have no sympathy for vegetarians who complain about the quality of fake meat. But celiacs desperate for ciabatta or pumpernickel: Man, this bread junkie feels your pain. How do you approximate the Western diet's most important staple when you can't eat the thing that makes bread bread ― the proteins in wheat?

Over the past decade, gluten-free bakers have been getting closer and closer at approximating the rise, texture, and aroma of wheat breads. Oakland's Mariposa Baking Company, which sells a wide variety of sweet and savory baked goods at the Ferry Building, uses a mix of brown rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour in its sandwich bread, along with guar gum, apple cider vinegar, and yeast to make it develop an airy crumb.

"Sandwich bread" is a bit of a misnomer, since the four-inch-wide loaf only rises a couple of inches ― these would be very tiny sandwiches. But the first thing you smell when you open the bag is yeast and oven-browned grains, and you realize: The yeast flavor is what you love about bread as much as you do the wheat.

The loaf is slightly denser and spongier than its wheat equivalent, but nowhere near as gummy as many GF breads. If you keep sniffing it, the vinegar smell grows stronger. The sourness fades when the bread is toasted; toasting also brings out the nuttiness in the sesame seeds on top, which only adds to the feeling that you're eating something real, something baked, not some crappy substitute for the food your body is denying you.

Follow us on Twitter: @SFoodie. Follow Jonathan Kauffman at @jonkauffman.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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