Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I know that ever since we went gluten free (forever and a lifetime ago), I've been curious as to how other gluten free households do it. Do they eat sandwiches? What kind of bread do they use? Where was this miracle bread?!
And then we came across gluten free bread locked up in the freezers at the store.
"This must be the miracle bread, but... it sure doesn't look all that fantastic to me" I thought.
We took it home, and no, I was right- it was terrible. We tried every variety the freezer had to offer. Every freezer from every store in town. If it was a loaf, and it said "GF" on it, we tried it. They were all fails. They all crumbled, the crusts fell off of every piece, they all tasted like they had been pulled out of a dumpster two weeks after having been tossed there. I was almost sure there must have been invisible mold coating each piece. It couldn't even be called bread. Who was given the task of marketing this stuff? Because clearly they hadn't tried it.
Next we tried a bag of bread mix. It tasted much better, but... still didn't hold up the way we needed it to. It was gummy in the middle, the edges were overcooked- we were doomed.
We gave up on bread. For years, we gave up on bread. Well, we gave up on a lot of things, as most people that go gluten free do (its really overwhelming at first), but bread- we were sure was a lost cause.
Over the years, I warmed up to our lifestyle. I dug my aprons out of the taped up box in the garage that I had banished them too, and I decided to show this gluten stuff who's boss. If living this life the healthy way, means that I have to cook every single thing from scratch- then I will. I made a commitment to myself, and to my family, that not only would we start eating healthy, but it would taste good, too.
I decided a few weeks ago, that it would be my short term mission, to find a permanent bread recipe that would work for us. A recipe that would become a staple in our diet, and be tacked up onto the cabinet in bold writing. The recipe, if you know what I mean. Kind of like how an every day average family might always buy the same kind of bread from the store. They don't have to write down "Wonder Bread" on the shopping list, they simply just write down "bread", and everyone in the family knows what kind it is, what the package looks like, and how much it costs. Thats the loaf of bread that I was going to eventually make.
My first try, of course, was a fail. The bread held together, but was heavy and thick. The flavor was ok, but not good.
My second attempt, a little bit better, but... yeah ok maybe not.
My third go, my fourth, my fifth... was this really worth the challenge? ...Yes, I had to remind myself, in the end it would be. And don't think that I made all of these loaves in the same day, or even the same week- my family had to suffer through weeks of this torture.
I'd use the failed attempts in everything from french toast, to casserole, to macaroni and cheese. Don't ask how we pulled that one off, because really, we didn't. The kids caught on and refused to eat it, but, Christopher and I ate it (gah, all of it). We took more than one for the team during our experimental bread baking period.
And then one day, I became a step closer.
I took that recipe, I tweaked it, and the next time, I was even closer.
Measure, mix, repeat... even closer!!
Until one day. I had done it.
I had perfected our bread recipe.
(Recipe altered from this one, here.)
-2 1/2 cups brown rice flour
-3/4 cups cornstarch
-3/4 cups powdered soy milk
-1 tablespoon xanthan gum
-2 tablespoons flax meal
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
-just below 2 cups of water
-3 tablespoons melted smart balance
-2 tablespoons olive oil
-2 large eggs
-Use the hottest water your sink will allow, and fill up a measuring cup to just below 2 cups of water. Scoop in your yeast, and whisk until frothy. Set aside.
-In a large bowl, measure out and mix your dry ingredients together gently with a whisk.
-Melt your smart balance.
-Beat your eggs.
-In a medium sized bowl, mix together your wet ingredients, including your yeast.
-Pour the wet into the dry, and mix with a wooden spoon. Do this gently, and take your time.
-Your mixture will be sticky, and in no way resemble a typical "bread dough". It should look light and fluffy.
-Spoon mixture into loaf pan, run the back of the wooden spoon under water, and smooth the top over.
-Let dough rise for 45 minutes. It should rise to the top of the loaf pan *see note below
-Preheat oven to 350.
-Bake loaf for 45-50 minutes (longer if you're not using a dark pan- keep an eye on it)
-Let bread cool inside pan for about 10 minutes, and then take a butter knife to loosen it from the edges.
-Move bread from pan, to a cooling rack. Let cool completely.
-Slice bread. Again, patience is your best friend in these sorts of situations. A little bit of crumbling might happen, but if you look back up at that top picture, it won't be much more than that.
-We wrap our loaf up in a large piece of foil, and then keep it in a large ziplock bag on the counter. Trust me, it won't dry out.
If everything worked out as planned, your loaf should look very similar to the above picture. And ooooh my gosh, just wait until you taste it!!
-To make sure that my dough actually rises, before I actually start measuring and mixing my bread, I turn the oven on to 350, and when the timer on the preheater says there is 4 minutes left, I turn it off (so, before it actually gets to 350). By the time my dough is in the loaf pan, the oven is the perfect temperature, and I let it rise in there. I set the timer on the oven, walk away, and come back to a beautifully risen ready-to-bake bread.
-I've tried using part sorghum/ part brown rice flour for this. It didn't taste as good. I've tried using part brown rice/white rice flour for this. It didn't taste as good. I've tried using just smart balance, and just oil. It didn't taste as good. I've tried making this without sugar. It didn't taste as good.
I promise. This is the best. No more frozen loaves of cardboard slices for this family, thats for sure.