Gluten Free bread experiments

On the hot bread crumb trail to figure out quality issues!

Print Now

 

… Previously, in your Happy Campers newsletter, our intrepid heroes have been experiencing major issues since moving to their new bakery… Here's the story of their breakthrough discoveries and solutions to get back the bread you love! 😉


... we knew there were going to be challenges with the big bakery move on an extremely short notice, but we were honestly confident we could pull it off without any major disruption.


After all, we’ve successfully changed bakeries three times over the twelve years of running our company. We weren’t changing our recipes or ingredients one bit and we know our processes in-and-out. We thought that we had all our bases covered.


But boy have we been humbled. 


The first wave of challenges came due to relentless equipment issues. Specifically our dough depositor, which has broken down no fewer than eight times. We’ve had to weigh dough by hand, which slows us down to a crawl and resulted in order delays. Thankfully, the machine has now been working without issues the last two weeks! Here is our feisty dough depositor:


 

As we continued to bake and ship orders from the new bakery, we heard your feedback of bread crumbling, having holes and being small. These three issues have almost always been reported together. They took us by surprise, because we haven’t changed our recipes and not even a single source of our ingredients. 


After several weeks of unsuccessful troubleshooting, we finally made a breakthrough discovery last week: We moved our bakery to Denver, Colorado, and it's the Colorado water that is the culprit! It has unusually high pH and contains minerals that negatively impact dough.

 

After much research, we learned that the pH level and the mineral content are major contributors to crumbling, holes and inconsistent loaf size. The photo below is how we evaluate bread experiments. This test loaf is the most recent, one of dozens and dozens test loaves over the past couple months.


Since we’ve always baked in the Pacific Northwest region, which has consistent water throughout, it hasn’t even been on our radar. We’re installing a new water filtration system and will be adding apple cider vinegar to our recipe to lower the pH. We’ve also invited a renowned bread scientist to bake with us this week and help us implement these improvements.


Then came the mold issue. Since moving to the new bakery, we’ve started using a new packaging format: a special inner bag that helps prevent mold and an outer bag with the product label. The main reason for this packaging change is that we currently don't have available the vacuum-seal packer that we had at our old bakery. 


The inner bag contains organic alcohol, which creates an atmosphere that makes it difficult for mold to grow. This way, we can prolong the shelf-life of our gluten-free bread and buns, while using no preservatives or chemicals whatsoever.   


Although we tested the functionality of the inner-bag extensively and it does prevent mold in most orders, it’s just not nearly as reliable as it needs to be. After much testing the past several weeks, we identified an alternative solution to prevent mold, which we’ll be implementing within just two weeks... so that you can enjoy a delicious sandwich like Jan below and not worry about mold again!


But wait, there is more! We’ve encountered rampant issues with boxes being crushed. It’s almost like all of a sudden rugby is being played with our boxes at the UPS center. We’re upgrading to stronger boxes within two weeks and will be using air-pillows to provide ample padding. 

 

On a personal note, life has been tricky, too. We think of our customers as family and friends, so we thought it makes all the sense to share this with you: Lacy has struggled with breast cancer the past few years. After trying what seems like every alternative healing method on the planet, her condition deteriorated and we had to quickly proceed with double mastectomy to prevent her cancer from spreading.


Lacy’s breast cancer is rare and had to be treated at a specialized center at UCSF in San Francisco. She had her surgery on August 9th. The bestest news is that all her cancer was removed and she doesn’t require chemo or further treatments! She is still in San Francisco right now, but is recovering nicely and should be able to come home in about a week! Below is our brave Lacy just post surgery!

 

Things have been tough, but they're always looking up. You know how it is… you have to embrace whatever life throws your way and look on the bright side. So many people have been thrown for a wild loop in the last few years, we're certainly not alone.


We're grateful for the support and the medical help we've received. We are thrilled for the opportunity to work hard and emerge from these hardships stronger (and tastier) than ever. Our promise to you is to continue pursuing the healthy bread journey tirelessly, learn, improve and serve you better than ever! 


Thank you for your support and being the part of our journey. Wishing you much love and health from the Happy Campers team!

 

Jan and Lacy