Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Gluten-free Bread

Last night I attended a lecture and book signing in Santa Barbara. The author is my friend Mia Lundin R.N.C., N.P. Her book, Female Brain, Gone Insane is an intelligent discussion about the chemistry of the female body. I first met Mia about 30 years ago and she has guided my health ever since. She's responsible for discovering my food allergies. She changed my life. She's indirectly responsible for today's blog entry. Gluten-free (and egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free) is a way of life for me now. So, with a thank you to Mia, let us go onto the crows.....

I love crows. You have to admit that they are quite impressive. Yes, and beautiful. They form communities and neighborhoods. They have scouts who warn of danger or good harvest. When I throw out bread crumbs, (or whole loaves), the leader calls the tribe to the picnic in my yard. The crows have eaten more of my fresh baked bread than anyone in the house in the last 2 years. We don't say Failure anymore, we say Lesson. The lesson is to let someone else do the experimenting and find a recipe that more than one online group is calling a success. So here it is - the bread that smells like bread, looks like bread, slices like bread and tastes like bread. Gluten-free.

And I might add, the bread that opens a huge door to my vegan possibilities. Simple things like a sandwich. Toast. Croutons in my salad or floating in my soup.....


a note: I used a Kitchen Aide mixer on 'stir' speed. It was so easy. The measuring, and mixing took about 15 minutes tops. Then it was rising and baking time. Total time - on the outside,  2 hours. The hardest part is waiting for the bread to cool so you can slice it.
Mark Engelberg’s Gluten-Free, Vegan Bread

Recipe for 2 loaves—it is okay to halve the recipe if you want to make just one
Note: If you are using a mixer that doesn’t have a great engine, you may want to mix it by hand at the end to ensure it’s all mixed. Since there’s no gluten to get tough from overmixing, you can mix until you’re confident.
In a large mixing bowl combine:
1 1/2 cups millet flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup cornstarch (or double the potato starch if you can’t eat corn)
1 cup potato starch
1 cup tapioca flour
4 tsp xanthan gum
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
4 tsp olive oil
3 1/4 cup warm water (not hot)
Mix with electric mixer–using paddle attachment, NOT regular beaters or bread hook–for two minutes. The bread dough will be more like cake batter than traditional bread dough.

Two options for the rising:
For the best rising: While mixing the bread, create a proofing box from your microwave. Microwave a small mug or ramekin with water until the water boils. Leave the water in the microwave. Pour the bread dough into two nonstick or well-greased pans. Tuck the loaves into the microwave with the water—the container of water should not be touching the pans. (I have to remove the turntable in my microwave to do this.) Allow to rise until batter extends a bit over the top of the pans–generally 30-50 minutes.

My microwave is too small for 2 loaf pans, I used my stoves warming drawer.

Standard method: Pour into two nonstick or well-greased loaf pans, place on a warm surface (such as on top of the pre-heated oven), and cover with a towel. Allow to rise until batter extends a bit over the top of the pan–generally 50-70 minutes. (Batter should take up about half the loaf pan before rising.)

Perfect - only now I had to preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

The rising continued - over the edges of the pans
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove loaf pans from oven and cover with aluminum foil. Return to oven and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, depending on your oven. (Insert a toothpick or knife into the center to see if it comes out clean or doughy, if you aren’t sure when you pull out the bread.)

some dough was sacrificed in this first 10 minutes of baking
As with most breads, it is easiest to slice if you allow it to fully cool. But who can wait that long? I usually let it cool for a little bit, and then remove the loaves from the pans and place them on a rack to cool more while I slice it up. The bread tastes delicious warm, dipped in olive oil and herbs or spread with honey and ghee. It also works well for sandwiches after it has cooled. If you won’t be eating it within 2 days, after it’s cooled, slice it, wrap it in a couple of layers of plastic wrap, and freeze it. Never refrigerate this or other bread—it will get dry and hard if you do. If you leave the bread on the counter (wrapped), it will be good for all purposes for a couple of days.

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