If you’re gluten free and you live in Atlantic Canada, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Schoolhouse Gluten-Free Gourmet. The company is run by partners (in business and in life) Jen Laughlin and Aidan Brunn out of — literally — a former schoolhouse in Martins Point, NS.
In just five years, Schoolhouse has grown from a two-person start-up to a commercial baking operation with six employees, serving three farmers’ markets and supplying more than 50 retail vendors, restaurants and cafés in Nova Scotia.
We asked Laughlin to answer our Company Spotlight questions. Here are her answers.
1. What does your company do?
We run a gluten free bakery in a converted old schoolhouse in Lunenburg County. We make everything from scratch and by hand. We use local and organic ingredients as much as possible.
2. What’s your story – why gluten free?
Aidan has celiac, and it was during the process of trying to find gluten free products for him that were actually healthy and tasted good (there were none), that Schoolhouse Gluten Free Gourmet was born.
We started by creating and testing a few of our products at farmers’ markets, and things took off very quickly. The demand was tremendous for what we were creating — finally, people with allergies and sensitivities could enjoy the baked goods they had missed for so long.
3. What’s been your greatest challenge?
It took a while to get the hang of how gluten free flours work together, and to work out the best combinations to achieve the desired results. There is definitely a science to the whole thing!
Keeping up with the demand for our products has been a challenge, and discovering how best to meet the demand while we stay true to our values of making everything by hand. As a result, we’ve continued to grow, and we have a strong staff of bakers who work hard to make the best possible gluten free foods available in the Maritimes.
Although we started out with the idea that we would likely be serving the “allergy” community, the demand from people with no allergies — who simply have an appreciation for good food — was unexpected.
4. What’s something people may not know about you (or your company)?
For our first three years in business, we lived above the kitchen in the old schoolhouse’s teachers’ quarters — in a one-room, loft-like space, with an old chalkboard running along the length of the wall, 20-foot ceilings and antique hanging lights. I claimed a tiny corner as my office. We beat a path up and down the stairs while we spent those first years working away in the kitchen.
5. How can people find you and your products?
We are at the VG Market at 1276 South Park St. in Halifax on Fridays from 9 am to1:30 pm (in front of the Victoria General site of the QEII Health Sciences Centre) and at the Seaport Market in Halifax on Saturdays from 7 am to 3 pm. On Thursdays from June to September we are at the Lunenburg Market in Lunenburg, NS, from 8 am to 12 pm.
Find a full list of our locations here.
….And a recipe, courtesy of Schoolhouse
A Sunday morning delight is our gluten free waffle recipe. It takes a few minutes to whip up, but it will have you dancing in the kitchen — these waffles are that delicious!
Gluten Free Waffles
Schoolhouse Gluten Free Gourmet
2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (1 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup tapioca starch, 1/2 cup potato starch)
1 Tbsp flax flour
3 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 Tbsp cane or brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or non-dairy spread, melted
1 tsp vanilla
Combine gluten-free flour mix, flax flour, baking powder, sugar and sea salt in a bowl.
Add whole eggs, milk and melted butter.
Using a stand mixer or handheld, mix well until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Pre-heat waffle iron and spray with a non-stick heart-healthy spray or brush lightly with butter, margarine or coconut oil. Cook waffles for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup, fresh whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruit. Makes 6-8 waffles.
- These waffles freeze brilliantly and make for a great quick breakfast during the week — just pop them in the toaster.
- Milk can be replaced in equal amounts with any of these ingredients, yielding delicious variations: soy milk, rice milk, fruit juice, coconut milk, goat’s milk, almond milk, hemp milk.
- Extra flavour boost: Add 1 cup of Nova Scotia wild blueberries to the batter, or add 1/2 cup chopped Annapolis Valley apples and 1 tsp ground cinnamon.
This post was created in cooperation with Schoolhouse Gluten-Free Gourmet.