Philippine Daily Inquirer
Why is gluten such an enemy in the food world today?
Expect a package, I was told. It will contain ingredients for my first online cooking project. It arrived nicely packed. The end result was what I saw first— Italian grissini or breadsticks in a nice tall glass with a fitted cover. Then the ingredients to makethem: bread flour, salt, dry yeast, olive oil, even water, and the herbs to sprinkle onthe finished product.
This was the first course in pastry offered by Enderun Extension in partnership with École Ducasse. There is a kit with apportioned ingredients, a video showing the procedure, then an online discussion where the chef conducting the course answers questions.
I was worried at first that I had to bring mycomputer to the kitchen, then follow the chef’s step-bystep video. That’s not easy to do when you don’t know where to put your computer in relation to your work area. But it was clarified that I could do the recipe in myown time at my own pace. Good! But what if I didn’t have the required oven, which I really didn’t?
Not having an oven is a better excuse than what I tell my friends whenever they ask me to try the recipes of cooking classes I have attended, like Thai dishes in Bangkok, Chinese dimsum in Hong Kong, Macanese recipes in Macau. My usual excuse: I attend cooking classes to know technique because it helps with my writing.
The online instructor was Laetitia (Leti) Moreau, executive pastry chef of École
Ducasse Manila Campus.
Grissini isn’t that difficult because there is only the pastry dough, which involves all the ingredients given. But while the video demo took about 18 minutes, the real time is about two hours and 30 minutes because of the proofing (allowing the dough to ferment and rise), chilling, and baking time required.
The online cooking module includes access to an e-classroom where, through Zoom, students can share their experiences, proudly show their finished grissini, and ask Moreau about problems encountered with procedures and about substitute ingredients.
Moreau explained that dry yeast has a longer shelf life compared to fresh yeast. Dry yeast should be dissolved in room temperature water because cold water will not activate it, while hot water will kill it.
Baking powder and baking soda can’t substitute for yeast when making bread. And that bread flour has to be used because cake flour and all-purpose flour do not have the protein needed to make bread. Double O flour is for pizza and should only be used for pizza.
Students asked her what to do if:
1. Dough is too sticky—mix dough more.
2. Dough is super elastic— Leave to rest.
3. Grissini is wet inside— Leave in oven for five to 10 more minutes.
4. Is it possible to overknead dough?—you cannot over-knead grissini dough.
5. What to do with dough if not using right away?—chill for two days maximum; freeze for one to two weeks maximum.
6. Can a toaster oven be used?—yes.
Well, that last question answers my procedure question. At least I have a toaster oven.
But the really important question for me is, why is gluten such an enemy today in the food world?
Gluten, according to Medical
News Today, “is a family of proteins found in grains, including wheat, rye, spelt and barley.”
Gluten creates that stickiness when the dough is achieved. Only people with certain illnesses like celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten. But we are all warned by the “food police” to avoid gluten.
Moreau said the problem only appeared lately, because gluten has been there since flour has been used for bread. Now, it is possible to change the genetic makeup of gluten in the flour.
Isn’t that the better discovery on my way to baking grissini in my toaster oven?
My next online lesson aim is to learn Hainanese Chicken Rice from chef See Cheong Yan, culinary head of Enderun Colleges.
Enderun Extension partners with École Ducasse for pastry e-classes
For the online cooking lessons, email meggie.salonga @enderuncolleges.com.