For Oliver Pinder from Wild Rise Bakery, making gluten-free products is more than just a passing health fad. Pinder grew up watching his mother cook, went to culinary school, and worked in kitchens for years. But about 10 years ago, he discovered his gluten intolerance. At that time, there were hardly any good gluten-free baking options, and the ones that did exist weren’t the tastiest or the most accessible.
“When I found out I was gluten intolerant at the very beginning of gluten-free bread, and I don’t know if you ever ate gluten-free bread five or six years ago, the choices weren’t very good. good, ”Pinder explains.
After attending a culinary school in South Africa and returning to the United States to begin an MA at Chatham University in Food Studies and working in various restaurants, Pinder saw a void in the market and sought it out. fill. He started cooking gluten-free out of necessity, but quickly learned that there were other people who were willing to pay for well-made products. His Wild Rise business started operating in 2019, and although he and the other baker he works with, Emily Bourdon, do not have a physical store, their products can be found in local grocery stores and cafes, as well. than in their online store.
My first introduction to gluten free bread was in college and suffered from many slices of styrofoam in the name of health. Even now, many restaurants only offer lettuce wraps or a bread-free option for those with gluten intolerance and celiacs. I decided to try some of Wild Rise’s offerings, and they were way ahead of the gluten-free pastries I’ve had in the past.
I ordered the Aloo pie, a rosemary and olive scoop and the vegan brownies.
Aloo Pie is a traditional Trinidadian fried dough filled with mashed potatoes seasoned with bandhania (a popular herb similar to cilantro), cumin, onion, and garlic. The cumin adds a bit of heat to the filling and the potatoes have a savory, peppery taste. The buckwheat-based dough is rich, buttery and flaky, and is not greasy. I suspected it was because Wild Rise bakes Aloo pies instead of frying them. I was right, according to Pinder. Many gluten-free doughs suffer from the inability to become flaky and often have a grainy texture. These pies do not suffer from this pitfall, they are rather light and delicious.
The olive and rosemary ball is made with sorghum flour and brown rice, and is very tasty and tender. Bread definitely needs the salt that olives provide, and the rosemary is always present in every bite, giving it an earthy and aromatic touch. I recommend eating it hot with a little butter for a little creamy salty.
The vegan brownies were absolutely perfect. Made from buckwheat flour, these brownies are tender, rich and dense, and without the gritty or sandy texture that can often accompany gluten-free baked goods. They have perfectly crispy tops and corners and an intense chocolate flavor.
What’s the secret to making these breads, pastries and pies? Pinder credits a flour mixture he created after reading about gluten-free flours in a book by Alice Medrich. “She wrote a book called Gluten-Free Flavor Flours, and I can’t use her ingredient-for-ingredient recipes at the scale we need to cook, but it opened my eyes to read her very detailed approach to flour.”
Pinder goes on to say that many recipes for gluten-free foods exist on a small scale; maybe for someone making a loaf of bread. Learning to adapt recipes to the level at which Wild Rise bakes breads and pastries was a matter of trial and error. Pinder quickly found his place in this regard and has since brought creative and tasty cuisine to the Pittsburgh area.
Aloo Pie isn’t the only adaptation of a traditional Trinidadian dish on the Wild Rise menu. Pinder, who was born in Brooklyn but raised in Trinidad, a southern Caribbean island, has sprinkled the menu with a few other goodies. The cinnamon raisin roll is based on the gooseberry roll. “I had this argument with mom. She said to me, ‘You can’t call it a gooseberry roll because you don’t use currants.’ I was like, ‘What’s the difference?’ ”
Coconut rolls are also based on a Trinidadian recipe. On the website, they’re described as a “coconut, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger dream swirl.” The Cheese and Chive Pie is based on a recipe that Pinder also grew up eating.
“The thing about the recipes that I grew up with is that I have to adapt them all. So figuring out which flours to use, which flours would work better with certain techniques, you know, that’s always the challenge, ”Pinder explains.
Another challenge that Pinder discovered when starting Wild Rise was that due to the flours and specialty ingredients that one has to use to make gluten-free bread, the price of their products is out of reach for some people. low income. “It makes us sound a bit niche,” Pinder explains. Wild Rise gets around this by doing outreach, like donating loaves of bread or being featured at local farmers’ markets for less than usual.
At the start of Wild Rise, Pinder and his team were raising money to purchase a blender, but that effort was halted because the commercial kitchen space couldn’t accommodate one. As a result, all the pasta is mixed by hand.
“You’d think I’d be more torn now, but I’m not,” he laughed.
How can the Pittsburghers support Wild Rise Bakery during this time? “People can just keep buying a loaf of bread from the co-op, because buying that loaf of bread allows the co-op to see that people still want our product, and buying from our online store makes even, ”Pinder explains.
Pinder remains positive and optimistic about the future of the company.
“The chance of being a gluten-free baker in a very underpopulated food industry is that gluten-free is not organized yet, especially not in Pittsburgh,” Pinder explains. “We’ve been good at reaching people. Our product must have always been good, and everyone’s product should be good, but as a start-up there is very little room for error. This is great because it means we had to make sure we had our I’s and our T’s crossed early on, but in terms of actual customer support, there was a lot going on.
Wild Rise Bakery. wildrisebakery.com