Baking History 101: Gluten-free Baking

I like to learn as much as I can about baking, both past and present because it makes me a better baker. That means I get to make even better treats for our customers! One of the biggest topics in the baking world right now is gluten, so let’s dig into that history, shall we?

In the 1800s, the Civil War had a major impact on who had access to which ingredients. For example, with the North and South divided, pecans were exclusively grown and consumed in the South. Walnuts, on the other hand, were exclusive to the North. Without being able to rely on their usual food sources from the North, bakers in the South had to use the ingredients at their disposal. Their replacement for wheat flour was to use rice flour, and gluten-free baking as we know it in the U.S. was born.

It wasn’t until the 1940s, though, that scientists discovered the importance of the gluten-free diet. During World War II, a Dutch pediatrician noticed that the mortality rate for Celiac disease dropped to zero. After the war, the mortality rate went back to normal. Once he made the connection to the lack of access to wheat ingredients, the doctor had his eureka moment and published his findings. Thanks, doc!

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