Thursday, February 9, 2012

A First Time For Everything - Bread

The thought of making bread scares me.  Regular or gluten free.  It just seems too difficult.  So difficult that I had never attempted it - except for one unfortunate incident with a bread machine in the 90's that I'd rather not relive.

As all you gluten free folks out there know, there is an extreme lack of good gluten free bread.  There is even a lack of decent gluten free bread.  For the past year I took this to mean I just shouldn't eat bread.  But sometimes, just sometimes, I get a craving for a sandwich and I curse gluten while simultaneously having a pity party.

In addition, my brother has been hounding me to figure out to make great bread.  Hounding might be a strong word.  Let's go with encouraging.  So what we have is bad bread, me wanting a sandwich for lunch, and my brother encouraging me to make bread.  Then my friend Mallory sends me an email with a link to the "best ever gluten free sandwich bread".  Ok, this was it.  Time to put on my big girl apron and get to work.

This recipe calls for several things I never use like yeast, almond milk, and apple cider vinegar.  It's a vegan recipe so I needed three "flax eggs" and had to buy ground flax seed.  It also calls for xanthan gum so I finally broke down and bought some.  Normally I would omit it, but if I was going to attempt to make the best ever gluten free sandwich bread, I didn't want to be taking any chances.  Same with the vegan parts.  Could I have used real eggs and milk instead?  Maybe, but I've never made bread before, so get off my back.

Without further ado, here's the recipe from Clean Eating Chelsea.  I copied it right from her site and followed it exactly (mostly).

Best Ever Gluten Free Sandwich Bread
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1 tbsp. yeast
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetend almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 flax eggs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. honey (optional)
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1. Proof the yeast: Heat up 1/2 cup almond milk and 1 cup water to approximately 105-110 degrees. To do this, I microwaved my liquid for 70 seconds and checked the temperature. Once the liquid is heated, add 1 tbsp. active yeast and 1 tbsp. sugar – give it a quick stir and set aside until foamy (~5 minutes).

2. Make your flax eggs: In a small bowl or mug, mix 3 tbsp. ground flax seed with 9 tbsp. (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp.) water. Give a quick stir and set aside until thickened (~3-4 minutes).

3. Mix your dry ingredients: In a stand mixer bowl, combine 1 cup brown rice flour, 1/2 cup quinoa flour, 1/2 cup oat flour, 1/2 cup potato starch, 2 tsp. xanthan gum, and 1 tsp. salt. Toss for approximately 10 seconds with a spatula or fork to combine the ingredients.

4. Once your flax eggs have thickened, add 1 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tbsp. honey, and 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar to the eggs. Whisk until ingredients are combined and set aside.

5. Make your dough: By this time, your yeast mixture should be foamy. If not, you might have killed the yeast due to the water being too hot. If this is the case, just start over with new yeast! If your yeast is good to go, pour the yeast and the flax egg mixture into the flour. Using a dough hook attachment, set your mixer to low-medium speed and mix for 3-4 minutes.

6. Let it Rise: Pour your dough into a greased 9×5 bread pan, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it hang out in an UNHEATED oven for about an hour. Once the dough has risen to the top of the pan, take the bread pan out of the oven.

7. Cook to perfection: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit once the dough has been taken out of the oven. Cook, uncovered for 45-50 minutes. The outside should be golden brown. Let bread cool completely before cutting into slices.

That's it: bread.  I only let my dough rise for half an hour because it was already well over the top of the pan.  Then, I checked my loaf after 40 minutes and the top was golden brown so I took it out.  This was a mistake.  While the flavor of the bread was good, it was a bit underdone.  How are you supposed to know when bread is done though?

While I think this would be good bread had I cooked it long enough, it is still a bit dense, as gluten free bread often is.  It's more the consistency of banana bread than fluffy sandwich bread.  How do you make fluffy gluten free sandwich bread you ask?  No one has figured it out.  I'm telling you, really good gluten free bread doesn't exist yet.  Sure, there are good ones out there, like my personal favorite, Canyon Bakehouse, but honestly, no gluten eating person is throwing down their bread to eat ours.

My brother has informed me I need to keep trying.  According to him, this is just the first in many bread attempts.  I need to figure out the science of it.  The science, as I understand it, is gluten makes things fluffy.  No gluten, no fluffy.  I'll work on it though.  Maybe.

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