Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Staff of Life

Bread has been called the staff of life and I am not surprised. But since I have given up wheat you start to notice how many things are bready. I have invented a wonderful gluten free pizza crust/flatbread plus a killer brownie recipe but the desire for a bit of bread was nagging me.

While I still can tolerate spelt and barley there might come a day when I cannot so I want a few gluten free recipes up my sleeve. Besides if I learn to bake gluten free then I can save spelt and barley for things like pasta and couscous and not overdose by adding in the bready bits and developing another intolerance. I would not say I am celiac but I can say I feel 100% better without  wheat flour. And since I much prefer wholemeal/rustic/brown/multigrain bread this works well. White bread as we all know is low on nutrition and fibre and high on carbs that convert quickly to sugars in your bloodstream. White gluten free baking is the same. Made with a high amount of starches (corn starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot, potato starch) plus white rice flour it is just asking for a blood sugar crash and a headache.

As I mentioned previously we are soon spending a weekend in Wales for our best friend’s wedding. It will be fully catered and the chef is making vegan stuff  especially for us. Which is cool. But since recently going mostly gluten free I was a bit worried about asking for too much. Vegan and gluten free? That’s asking a lot since much of gluten free baking relies rather heavily on eggs. So I got to thinking I needed to get some vegan gluten free bread recipes under my belt. If I bring some gluten free bread for the weekend we can eat like other folks and the chef can concentrate on the vegan side of things.

So I did what I always do. I google. I found about 10 pages of recipes which I read and made a big ole nerdy chart to compare the ingredients. This one uses 2 cups flour with 1 cup starch while that one uses only ¾ cup flour and ¾  cup starch. This one uses 1 TB of sugar to activate the yeast and that one calls for ¼ cup maple syrup to feed the yeast. This one uses 3 flax eggs and that one uses NRG Egg replacer powder. This one uses  2 TB oil and that one uses 1/3 cup oil. One thing they did agree on is that gluten free bready things will not rise as much as their gluten-y counterparts even with a healthy dose of xanthan gum and that they need something to help them keep their shape as they tend to flatten and spread. If you want dinner rolls use a muffin tin and if you want buns then use a hamburger bun pan. Never heard of that? Me neither. But I googled it and it is a pan you can put you dough in to keep all your buns uniform. I decided to buy some Yorkshire Pudding pans as these pans are cheap (a £2.20 pan makes 4 buns) and are readily available in England.

After I had compiled my nerdy criteria I went back to google for a more refined search eliminating rice flours, too many starches, NRG egg replacer and copious amounts of oil. This is what I found. http://www.bookofyum.com/blog/gluten-free-vegan-onion-sorghum-roll-recipe-4958.html

With some very easy modifications (she used sorghum flour and can’t find that here) I made these and they were wonderful. Nice and whole grain with a soft interior and crusty exterior with lots of yummy dried onions on top. She did a bit of melted margarine with the dried onions--I skipped the marg and just put lots of dehydrated onions.  They came out a bit small--like mini buns--but 2 buns each was enough for dinner with 4 left over for soup the next day. Friday night we made Philly Cheese Steaks with neither cheese nor steak and the buns were perfect. They held together well. The cheese I used was this one. http://viveleveganrecipes.blogspot.com/2009/03/vegveeta-cheese-dip.html . Let it cool and it is spreadable cheese. The tempeh steak recipe I used was this one sans the mushrooms. http://happyveganface.blogspot.com/2008/04/tempeh-philly-cheese-steaks.html  I served it with roasted broccoli and a salad of carrots cut into matchsticks with lemon juice and poppy seeds. 

They were absolutely tiny and perfect and not crumbly at all which supposedly can happen to gluten free bread--particularly ones without eggs. There is also supposed to a problem with them going all hard and drying out, but  stored mine in an airtight tin and they next day there were fine. Quite soft. I think I’ll be able to whip up a batch of these to take for the wedding weekend and we can just carry them in our airtight tin and give them to the chef and he can use them for food as needed.

Here is the modified recipe for Onion Rolls--sans gluten and egg, but not taste.
Grease your pans so you’ll be ready once everything is mixed. For rolls use muffin tins, for buns use hamburger pans or Yorkshire pudding pans or whatever you have.

2 cups whole grain gluten free flour--she used 2 cups sorghum and I used 1 cup buckwheat, 1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup starch--she used 1 cup tapioca starch. I read that too much tapioca starch can make foods bitter so used 1/3 cup tapioca, 1/3 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup arrowroot. 
1 TB xanthan gum
1 ½ tsp salt
2 TB sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
2 TB yeast The only yeast I had was fast acting yeast for the bread machine. It foamed up like mad like the head on a beer but I wonder would the granule kind for hand baking work even better.
2 TB olive oil
3 TB ground flax + ¾ cup water
1 tsp cider vinegar or any light vinegar
Lots of those dehydrated onions

Sift your flours, starches, xanthan gum and salt together.

Place sugar in a small bowl and add the water. Stir to dissolve the sugar then stir in your yeast. Set aside to “proof” (go all foamy) I proofed my yeast first and by the time I got all my flours sorted it was this huge tower of yeasty foam like that dude’s skyscraper afro from Kid n Play. Google image Kid n Play if you are not a child of the 80s and you don't know what I'm on about.   So definitely do the flour first.

Combine the flax and the water and blend until you have a thick slippery consistency. Let sit for a few minutes to thicken. It will go all gooey like eggs.

Add the oil and vinegar to your yeasty water then add the proofed yeast and the flax eggs to the flours and stir and stir and stir until mixed. The good thing about gluten free baking is you don’t have to worry about over mixing making the dough too tough as there is no gluten.

For muffins, fill muffin tins half way. For buns divide the dough into 8 parts and pat into place with WET hands. The dough is super sticky so keep a bowl of water handy for re-dipping. Add (quite) a bit of dried onion to the top of each and press it gently in.

Cover with a tea towel and let rise for about 50 minutes or until doubled in size. I let mine rise on the stove top for 30 minutes then turned on the oven to preheat to 190C/375F and let the dough rise 20 more minutes with the warm oven underneath. They never did get very much bigger, but there was some difference in the risen size.

Bake for 30 minutes or until rolls are browned and they sound hollow when tapped on bottom.

The texture is best after they cool. They also cut much easier if you are trying to split them into buns after they are cooled.

These will definitely be in rotation when we need bready things like hamburger buns or rolls to go with soup. Happy gluten free eating!

1 comment:

  1. sorghum is the same as Milo, so maybe you can find that flour under another name. The reason I know is Jamie and I recently had a debate/discussion/I know what I'm talking about and you don't/ over a field we saw from the road. I called it Milo and he called it Sorghum. Turns out we were both right. Both our butts were you know what color.