Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Wheat Delete

You might have noticed that I was giving away all my wheat stuff in my last post. I have just come to the conclusion that wheat gives me a tummy ache. When I eat it, my stomach feels hard and bloated and it hurts. I feel sluggish and tired and blah. I have, over the last few years, moved over into the SPELT camp. I bake exclusively with spelt and we eat spelt pasta. I use barley couscous and eat rye crackers as spelt, rye and barley all have considerably less gluten than wheat. Plus there are great gluten free options as well such as millet and quinoa and of course, rice. I have felt enormously better and being vegan I am used to making substitutions for stuff when I cook so what’s one more thing, eh?   We used to occasionally get a take away pizza and I loved the taste of it. But all that wheaty crust would leave me feeling horrible and constipated for days. I have tried in the past to make a spelt crust in my bread machine where the machine does the mixing and rising and you are supposed to just turn it out and roll it into your pan. Never had much success with that as you had to remember to start the bread machine hours before you wanted to make dinner and then the dough was mega sticky. So I wondered could I make a vegan, gluten free crust that actually tasted good? Here were the potential problems:

1. Most gluten free bready stuff tastes like ass.
2. Most better looking gluten free bready stuff has eggs in it.
3. Most gluten free recipes I found on line were from the US and either recommended sorghum flour (which I can’t find here) or Bob’s Red Mill brand flour mix--which contains sorghum--but costs £5 for a weenie little bag and I ain’t doing it.

So I looked at what purpose gluten free ingredients serve to put together my own recipe and this is what I found:

Tapioca flour: helpful where binding a moistening properties are required.
Buckwheat flour: Which despite having wheat in the name contains no wheat and is actually from a seed and is related to rhubarb. Who knew? It also has binding properties but is dark and strongly flavoured and is best combined with other bland flours so it won’t be so overwhelming.
Oat flour: Lightens baked goods. If you are really a celiac then make sure to get gluten free oats.
Chickpea flour: used a lot in Asian cooking. Can provide an "eggy" taste when making french toast.
Cornflour (cornstarch to my US peeps) makes lightly textured baked goods but can be a bit powdery so combine it with other flours to add moisture. If you have a corn allergy then sub in some arrowroot. Cornflour is just cheaper here.
Xanthum gum: Helps to replace gluten by giving the flours some elasticity.

Lots of recipes call for rice flour but I find it gritty and so I left it out. I also wanted to include some flax meal (ground flax seed) as it is a powerhouse of nutrition as well as goes all gooey and eggy in liquid and I thought it would help me bind stuff together.

Well after only 3 tries I invented the *perfect* gluten free vegan pizza crust recipe which also makes a killer flat bread that could be dunked in soup. It is also yeast free as some of my mates have yeast issues as well as the fact that yeast means you have to wait for it to rise and all that jazz and I haven’t got the time or the patience for that. It does contain those cheesy flakes of goodness nutritional yeast but those are an inactive yeast and therefore are acceptable for mates who are on a yeast free diets.

Spidergrrl’s Groovy Multi-grain Vegan Gluten Free Dough recipe 

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F

Sift together in a big bowl:
½ cup tapioca flour
½ cup buckwheat flour
½ cup oat flour (this is just ½ cup oats whizzed in your food processor until powdery)
½ cup chickpea flour
1/3 cup cornflour (cornstarch)
 2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
 1 tsp xanthum gum

Then add:
1 tsp salt (I used lo-salt)
1 TB dried Italian herbs like basil, oregano, marjoram
2 TB nutritional yeast

Wisk all the dry ingredients to mix the flours.
Combine the liquid measurements in a small bowl or jug:
1 TB apple cider vinegar
1TB agave syrup (or honey if you exploit bees)
1 cup warm water
2 TB flax meal (or substitute 1 egg if you are an animal abuser)

Wisk together and then add the wet to the dry and stir until combined. I had to add a splash more warm water.

Line whatever pan you are using with parchment paper (round for a pizza/rectangular for flatbread) Then use a wet spoon or wet hands to flatten the dough into the shape of the pan. This really worked to keep the sticky down and didn’t make the dough too wet.

For pizza:
Bake for 15 minutes, take out of oven and add toppings (we used homemade tomato sauce, caramelised onion and pepper, olives, pineapple, sweet corn and smoked tofu) and bake for 10-12 more minutes.
Top with a sprinkle of “Parmesan cheese” (3 TB nutritional yeast/3 TB ground almonds/½ tsp salt blitzed in a blender)  

For flat bread:
Bake for 25-27 minutes.

This was really yum and not that difficult to do. I liked that it had a whole grain healthy slightly nutty flavour but without being overwhelmed by any one flour.

  I am not sorry to see wheat deleted from my life. It also helps in social situations where there are biscuits (cookies) that want to leap into my mouth. Much of the time they have eggs and milk in them so I feel happy declining, but there are some like ginger nuts and bourbons that are accidentally vegan and I could scoff the bag and then really regret it after not being able go to the loo for days. So it just helps on those tempting moments to know I have healthier, less sugar, less fat, wheat free vegan treats at home rather than cheap and nasty store bought rubbish full of palm oil and the metaphorical blood of orang-utans in it. 

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