Talk of the Town-ie

Posted on Thu, 02/01/2018 - 12:03pm

Written & Photographed by Kelly Zelna, Zingerman’s Bakehouse

The struggle is VERY real to find tasty gluten free treats. You thought that having to eliminate gluten from your diet was bad enough, till you embarked on the quest to find edible gluten-free treats. You think you’re starting a delectable adventure full of foods that taste just a little different than the glutenful delicacies of yore. Really, you discover that sometimes those sweets are dry. Not just a little dry, we’re talking Sahara Desert never seeing water ever again dry. Then, the consistency can be like eating a mouthful of sand! Who wants to have a mouthful of sand? Then there’s that crumble issue. You know, that “ it looks nice in the package but once you take it out it just falls to pieces” crumble issue. There’s the whole “Well, the food is all going to the same place so if its a little crumbly it’s really okay…” argument. But really, do you want to smoosh together a pile of crumbs to “enjoy” your treat? I think not.

I have the solution for you: Zingerman’s Bakehouse Townie Brownies! If you haven’t tried one, allow me to convince you to.

I would describe the experience of savoring the fluffy, smooth, deliciousness of eating a Townie Brownie as biting down on a soft pillow of chocolatey goodness to find the pleasant surprise of substantial, flavorful chocolate bits at the bottom of the brownie. This brownie is the full bodied chocolate experience you’ve been looking for!

These wondrous chocolate delights suffer from none of the common gluten-free mistakes. The power of the Townie Brownie, like many Zingerman’s food, lies in the quality of the ingredients. This feat of culinary perfection is made with a combination of amaranth and quinoa flour, chosen after a process of trial and error, specifically to give it the smooth, grit-free consistency.

To solve the mystery of the missing moisture in many gluten-free foods is a 4 point attack plan of egg whites, butter, sugar, and the choice of using chocolate and melted chocolate over cocoa powder, which can contribute to a lack of moisture. Now we’ve come to the star of the Townie Brownie, the chocolate! The highlight of this chocolate marvel is a generous amount of chunky squares of Callebaut chocolate.


Now what gives the structure of the Townie Brownie that perfect chocolatey flavor is melted Valrhona Satilia Noire 62% dark chocolate mixed into the batter.

For me, I especially enjoy a Townie Brownie on a day I’m not feeling 100%. Chocolate and chocolatey treats take me back to memories of spending summers at my Grandparents’ mountain house in North Carolina. Like most Grandparents, mine spoiled my brother, cousins and I at every opportunity on those summer trips. From Gummy's (we call our Grandma Gummy), cookies, cinnamon rolls, and brownies, to a simple bar of chocolate she always provided us with a variety of sweets! After a long day of getting lost hiking due to Gumpa’s (our name for Grandpa) disastrous sense of direction, Gummy would reward all of us with our own full sized chocolate bar, which as a child was the coolest thing ever, since we all were used to having to share our candy with siblings. We all were a little in awe of this simple bar of chocolate thinking, “This chocolate is just for me and I can eat it ALL if I want to!”. The Townie Brownie is much more deliciously complex than the simplicity of a bar of chocolate, but it still reminds me of those hot summer days riding home in the back of Gumpa’s truck, enjoying a simple square of chocolate.

The recipe for Townie Brownies can be found on page 190 of the Bakehouse cookbook! And lucky for you the amaranth and quinoa flour as well as the Barry Callebaut chocolate chunks can be found in our Bakeshop!


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Zingerman's Bakehouse

Sourcing our ingredients locally has many benefits, not least of which is literal field trips to visit our future ingredients as they grow. To this end, one June morning a contingent of the bakehouse grain commission headed west to Living Earth Farm in Sawyer, Michigan where rye is being grown for us this season. I think rye is delicious and I know our customers agree, many using our rye breads as staples in their diet each week and famously enjoying it on sandwiches at Zingerman’s Delicatessen. However, this ancient grain took a major back seat to wheat in the 1900’s when very fluffy and sweet breads became more popular. Now, though relatively easy to grow, particularly good for the soil, and hearty under a variety of weather conditions, rye is used primarily as a cover crop to improve the soil in between main crop seasons and is typically not harvested for food in the United States. Because it is no longer widespread in our state, it is necessary to work directly with farmers to access these grains whole, fresh, and from Michigan. The rye growing at Living Earth Farm is a special departure from today’s typical baking and farming and I’ve been looking forward to seeing its progress for months.

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