This weekend, I set myself a challenge. The challenge was “Gluten, dairy, egg and yeast free bread”.
If you knew how allergic I was to the kitchen or anything domestic, you’d be impressed. I’ll give you an example:
When I got a ‘B’ in Home Economics at school my dad scoffed and said – “What, a B! I wouldn’t let you iron my shirt!” I know it was his way of expressing being proud, but I never did iron any of shirts.
Anyway, back to the self-imposed challenge. It began tentatively. The first task entailed the investigation of gluten-free flours.
There are some brand-name substitutes, and these do work a lot like flour, but anything with the label “Free-From” increases in expense. I wanted to avoid these, with the plan of keeping buy-in-bulk items like different flours in sealed bins, like I do the rice.
As I live close to many Pakistani and Indian shops, I researched the flours they sell and the extent to which they would be gluten-free. This was my short-list:
Gram Ground chickpeas
Raggi Red millet
Ondhwa Mix of lentils and rice (not suitable for daughter when kind of lentil is not specified)
Bajra Black Millet
and of course:
In egg-free recipes, there are two items in my cupboard that would serve as an egg-substitute:
Ground Flax seeds.
With both, an “egg” = 1:3 ratio of seed to warm water.
and to substitute butter
Vegetable Oil (I keep coconut, olive and rape seed oils in stock)
There are some individuals whose intolerances might include soy and almonds. The other options might be more suitable.
Baking Soda + Apple Cider Vinegar mixed with milk of choice
So armed with possible ingredients, I searched the net and found this recipe:
I didn’t have all the ingredients required, but felt that as I was substituting most of what comprises bread, hey, why not more?
So here was my experiment. I call it that, not a recipe, as I made it up as I went along. Our cupboards are very high, so it meant a lot of calorie burning climbing up and down a chair as I didn’t really have a plan. You have to remember, I had a kitchen phobia. If you know the scientific term for irrational fear of domestic chores, let me know. I’m a psychologist after all. I should know such things.
So, here’s how it went.
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
1 Cup (250mi) soya milk
1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
Make the milk sour by adding cider vinegar and leave to one side in warm room.
2 Tablespoons chia seeds
6 tablespoons of warm water
Meanwhile, make two “eggs” by mixing the chia seeds with the warm water. Leave to one side – this takes about 5-10 mins. I think, I didn’t really watch the clock.
3 cups of mixed flours
My personal mix was 3/4 cup of a brand name gluten free flour (it’s in the cupboard – waste not, want not) 1/4 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup rice flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal and 1 cup gram flour. There was no real logic to this, except I happened to have 1/4 cup of pre-ground oat-flakes to use up. The remaining additions were a matter of keeping the maths simple. In future batches, I’ll experiment with different relative quantities.
Sift these into a large bowl
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of salt (I use a mill, so this was guess work)
Add these to the sifted flours and thoroughly mixed in. (Actually, I didn’t sift, nor thoroughly mix. Experience tells me its necessary, you should do it, even if I get lazy.)
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup warm water
To the milk, add the “eggs”, oil and water, and mix. I don’t think this was the order recommended in the original recipe, but I’m all for economical pot usage. Saves washing up time later.
Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquids.
Stir until all the flour had become folded into the liquid. I liked the visual impact of this stage of the process. As you stir, the flour steadily falls into the liquid. The dough bulks up with the addition of flour, and the rest continues to steadily fall in. You see a creamy dough developing with very little arm ache. But then you need to beat. Probably for at least as twice as long as I did.
As this recipe is based on Irish soda bread, normally it would be moulded by hand into a round and then a cross cut into it, placed on a greased baking tray and then put into the oven.
BUT, my dough was not firm enough. I had two choices: add more flour, or pour it into a bread tin. Being Libran, making a choice about which flour to add to firm it up was too difficult. Not only that, I did make an effort to keep the place tidy as i went along and I had climbed those chairs several times to put the flour back. I didn’t want to go again. I had run 6 k already that day. So, I greased a bread tin and poured the dough into it.
I have to tell you, that at this stage, what was glooping into that tin didn’t look like anything I’d want to eat. But I was on mission and I have difficulty in stopping when I’m so enthused.
At this point, Verd got excited. It would be the first properly gluten, dairy, egg and yeast free bread he’d ever eaten. I failed to mention he might wish that he hadn’t.
Even though poured into a tin, it still needs a cut placed lengthwise across it, or even a cross, otherwise, the gases will find their own way during the rising process. If you look at the picture below, you’ll see that the ‘top’ has broken from the bread, this was due to forgetting the cross. Again, I’m helping you to learn from my messes.
Pop it in the oven for about 1 hour. Leave to rest for about 10 mins, then turn out, cool on wire rack, and photograph BEFORE it gets eaten. This is the the heel that remained after others tucked in. I believe it was a success!
It had good texture, colour and TASTE. However, like many gluten-free breads, even the manufactured ones, it was crumbly, hence difficult to toast or make sandwiches with. Good for an open sandwich though.
Gluten gives bread that doughy, chewiness, so is difficult to substitute. But, due to the puzzle and my desire to make a less crumbly bread, I investigated further.
Xantham and Guar Gums
These are included in several gluten-free recipes. But they are food additives, not foods. Xantham may be made from wheat, so is often not as gluten-free as claimed.
Not kosher, nor halal and not suitable for community members who are vegan.
I’m not doing very well so far in my search. But I persist!
Made from seaweed, this is actually a gelatin substitute favoured by people who are vegan. It reputedly makes gluten-free bread more chewy, but it has a high price tag if planning to feed a community. I’m not a rich woman.
Known most for their fibre content, a study accidentally found that psyllium improves the structure of gluten-free breads. One for the list!
Flax meal and chia seeds.
These are suggested Xantham gum substitutes, although they seem to appear as egg-substitutes in recipes.
As I always keep a store of flax seed for their omega 3 content, I’ll try a mix of both chia and flax next bread.
I’ll be reporting back on how that goes!
Let me know if you try this out, vary it, or otherwise. It all contributes to the knowledge cooperative!