My first reaction to the news of having celiac disease (other than total disbelief) was a strong sense of irony. How could I, the baker of all things wheat, now be allergic to that most basic of components of my baking? Once I got used to the idea, I spent some energy investigating where I could buy GF foods. My local Giant didn’t seem to have much at first glance but after perusing it a couple of times I saw that they had a fair amount of GF cake/brownie/pancake mixes, pastas, redi-mixed flour mixtures, GF condiments and the like. I bought some GF bread crumbs and cheddar cheese crackers there because they were on sale. The Giant in Coopersburg has a slightly bigger GF selection. I got a bunch of rice pastas there.
I have only been to the Rt. 248 Wegmans but it has some great finds too. I imagine the other two local Wegmans have similar GF stock. Most important, they have the individual flours that are critical to making your own flour mixes and for many recipes out of GF cookbooks. I bought some tapioca flour, some potato starch and garbanzo & fava bean flour there. The G&F flour is hard to find but is used in a number of recipes. I did find that a white bean flour from Echo Hill was a decent substitute.
Echo Hill Country Store is out in Fleetwood, PA; the edge of Amish Country. It is a small busy store crowded with aisles full of packaged flours, pastas, rice and beans of a variety that is found no where in this area as far as I can tell. My friend Marjorie took me there a few years ago and I used to buy a lot of interesting wheat flours there. Now I buy everything but wheat there. They have pretty much everything but the G&F flour which I later found at Wegmans. And they have a good GF pasta selection at decent prices. I also found a wide variety of rices there that I never see anywhere else. I found brown risotto rice there! And black rice, green rice and a number of rice mixtures that looked interesting. Even if you are not GF you should take a trip to Echo Hill. Their spices have great prices, bulk dipping chocolate is to be had there and there is just a lot of packaged goods to check out. You can even get real chocolate jimmies there!!
Health food stores carry a decent range of flours and Fry’s Foods in Hellertown has brown rice flour as well as several other specialty flours necessary for GF baking. They also have some great GF cereals there.
One thing I haven’t found is rye flavor. One of my cookbooks uses it to simulate rye bread. You can mail order it from Authentic Foods which is located in California. I think I may have to put together an order this spring…. I do miss seeded rye and pumpernickel breads. So I know I will continue looking for it in stores and one way or another I will make some rye bread soon.
Most stores have redi-made GF baked goods like rolls and breads. I have heard nothing good about them. And they are very pricy; I saw frozen GF breads in Weis Markets that was $7.49 for a loaf! That is twice what wheat bread costs these days. The GF rolls when touched (my man did that!) are hard and unyielding so I think for now I will be making my own from scratch.
GF bread crumbs cost about three times what wheat bread crumbs cost but they are nice as they don’t really need refrigeration. Still, these were made only of cornmeal crumbs which I take issue to. I think I will stick to my homemade crumbs from leftover GF bread I made in the past.
Everyone says that, once you get the hang of it, home made GF baked goods are far superior to the pre-made stuff offered in today’s stores. So I cannot report to you on how they taste. If I buy any I will let you know how it tastes. And if you, fair readers, have tried any pre-made GF breads/rolls please do write in on what you thought of the taste and texture. Tell me where you bought them too! Maybe I will be tempted to try one by your recommendation.
First published late March 2013.