|My best gluten-free bread recipe. Note: The loaf pictured has eggs.|
Man shall not live by bread alone, so the famous saying goes. In other words, we need ideas to feed us, too. We need awareness. Conscious action. An expression and celebration of the spirit.
And yet (here's the sticky part, folks) almost every spiritual tradition includes the bread we shall not solely live by, whether it be a hand-torn loaf, a paper thin wafer, a piece of matzoh, a curve of naan, or a sprinkle of cornmeal. Breaking bread and sharing grain is a cherished and beloved symbol for community, celebration and tribal nourishment. From Holy Communion to the Super Bowl gatherings around an elevating principle or a family milestone (from birth to marriage to funerals) include the simple but connecting gesture of sharing food.
Because cooking makes us human.
And eating illustrates our kinship with the entire animal kingdom. Humans are animals, after all, interlinked and cousined by astonishingly similar DNA and subatomic particles from the vast universe itself. As Carl Sagan said, we are star stuff. We are billion year old carbon. Flesh and bones. And we need to eat to survive. We need our daily bread in order to contemplate the concept that curiosity and compassion and creativity are also food. This is the tangled and elegant duality I've been chewing on of late.
When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease I gave up bread with only a brief whimper (although chocolate croissants still haunted my dreams like so many flaky buttery vampires). I was stoic. I gnawed gluten-free pizza crusts akin to sneaker soles and sandwiches that deconstructed on the plate and turned gummy in the mouth. I did it for my health. My body. My longevity (I'd like to stick around for awhile).
As many newly diagnosed celiacs do, I frequented an on-line forum where newly minted celiacs gather to vent their frustration and whine about missing bread aka The Holy Grail. Seeing the drama and desperation publicly displayed only kindled my attraction to practice the Zen-surfer art of detachment. Although I well understood the pain on parade (and I empathized with just how difficult going gluten-free is), I didn't want to identify with the victim consciousness I saw spilled across the message boards. It was a psychic turn-off, emotionally draining not to mention, spiritually uninspiring.
Although I appreciated the why's and how's of the grief and anger expressed, I could not embrace it as my own. It felt too dangerous- like slipping into an undertow, dragged down to churn and churn in denial and desire. So I abandoned the forum and gave up the quest for ciabatta. And pizza crust. And bagels. And matzoh balls. And I steered my hunger toward naturally gluten-free foods.
And I felt free. Proactive. Unburdened.
Deciding soon after diagnosis that gluten-free alternatives to the "real thing" just weren't worth the effort and the investment of expectation worked for me. Instead of focusing on what I couldn't have, I chose to focus on what I could enjoy. Naturally gluten-free foods. Like fresh peanut butter. Bananas. And yes, even rice cakes. I'm one of the lucky ones. I'm blessed with a practical, tenacious spirit and a problem solving nature. I adapt.
The art of detachment buoyed me through the early years of dreadful gluten-free recipes that relied on white rice flour and starches (am I the only one who cannot stand the taste and grit of baked white rice flour?). This was many years ago, you see, before savvy marketers in the multibillion dollar food industry began taking notice of the celiac awareness explosion. You know, before gluten-free was considered hip, an option cannily made to be trendy or to lose one's muffin top. As if gluten-free is a choice those stuck with celiac disease wake up and decide one happy spring morning. A choice to be mocked and snickered at. A choice now marketed by certain ambitious celebrities who claim going gluten-free will do everything from detox your gonads to lower your cholesterol.
This sort of blatant one-size-fits-all marketing (translation: will make me one rich bitch) really gets under my skin. If I had a so-called choice, Darling, would I still shun croissants for the promise of a size zero mini skirt and a chance to blather on Larry King and Oprah as if I could actually string two uncoached thoughts together? I don't think so. I'd be diggin' on the pastry. With a caramel macchiato.
So what exactly changed my mind about bread and the whole Zen-surfer detachment thing?
One word. Sorghum. And buckwheat. And millet. Wait, that's three words. And then there are the new certified gluten-free oats. We have killer gluten-free bread mixes by Pamela's. We have, I'm not sorry to tell you, new and serious temptations into rekindling hope. Hope for the return of the aforementioned Holy Grail. There are spanking new grains and mixes to tempt us as the serpent once tempted Eve. Cookies and cupcakes and bakery breads that whisper, Go ahead.
Take a bite.
And that is the best news. For all of you newly diagnosed readers and mothers and fathers of children who woke up yesterday and learned that you or your loved one cannot tolerate gluten, let me tell you. This is a better time to give up gluten than ever before. Your choices are abundant- and expanding daily.
Which, for yours truly and certain kindred folks in my boat, is a tad ironic.
Because just as we learn about and experiment with new gluten-free flour choices and begin to flirt with bread again some of us are finding out that the gut damage caused by years of undiagnosed celiac disease did not only hollow our bones enough to break a hip at 53 and prompt autoimmune cataract surgery at the tender age of 45, the euphemism they call malabsorption also invited food proteins to pass through leaky nether lands and alert our bodies to attack. So now, for some of us, milk and cream and butter are verboten.
Not that I'm kvetching.
Who am I to kvetch when there's still plenty of stuff to eat? As long as I can eat potatoes, I can deal with it. So I experiment with the ingredients my body can handle. I measure and stir and scoop with a faint air of detachment laced with a delicate glimmer of hope. I throw together new-to-me flour combos and hope to conjure a decent gluten-free bread- an edible bread not only without gluten- but with no milk, butter, or rice flour. A vegan gluten-free allergy-friendly bread.
And Babycakes, I did it.
Not only is this a multiple-allergen-free bread, it is tender and fragrant and super delicious. No Zen detachment necessary. And it's time to celebrate.
|Gluten-free bread that is soft and tender.|
Delicious Gluten-Free Bread RecipeThis gluten-free bread is tender, fragrant, dairy-free and rice-free, and easily egg-free with proper leavening. Though most gluten-free bread recipes rely on eggs for texture and rise, this recipe is also delicious baked vegan, without eggs (though in all honesty, two whipped eggs will make it rise higher). I use Ener-G Egg Replacer to make it egg-free.
Recipe updated August 26, 2011
First- whisk together your dry ingredients and set aside:
1 1/2 cups sorghum flour (aka jowar flour)
1 cup tapioca starch or potato starch (not potato flour!)
1/2 cup GF millet flour or GF oat flour
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/ 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 packet rapid dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
You'll need sesame seeds for the top; set aside for later. Or omit.
For the Breadman bread machine:
Pour the liquid ingredients into the bread machine pan first:
1 1/4 cups warm water (at 110 to 115ºF)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey- or raw agave nectar to keep it vegan
1/2 teaspoon mild rice vinegar or lemon juice
2 organic free-range eggs, beaten or 1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer whisked with 4 tablespoons warm water till frothy
Gently pour the mixed dry ingredients on top of the liquid.
Set your bread machine program for 1.5 loaf medium crust. I used the gluten-free cycle on the Breadman; if you don't have a gluten-free cycle, a rapid rise cycle will also work.
Check the dough after a few minutes of kneading- it should be closer to a muffin batter than bread dough, soft, but not cake batter wet. Adjust dry to wet ratio with a tablespoon of flour or warm liquid, as needed. Humidity influences the dough. As does temperature (your bread will rise higher on a hot day).
If you like a crusty loaf (or your past experience results in a gummy center/fallen top) remove the bread from the pan and place it in the oven at 350ºF for an additional 10 minutes- keep an eye on it and don't let it get too brown. It should be a light golden color.
Cool the loaf before slicing for best results.
Enjoy fresh from the oven- the first day (as with most gluten-free baked goods) has the best texture and taste.
Freeze leftover bread as slices, wrapped in a paper towel and bagged in freezer bags. Thaw to room temperature.
Baking time:1 hour
Yield: 1 loaf
Recipe Source: glutenfreegoddess.blogspot.com
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|Gluten-free bread worthy of a sandwich.|
Instructions- if you don't have a bread machine:
Follow the instructions for whisking together the dry ingredients.
Using one cup of the water, proof the yeast in the warm water (110 to 115ºF) and a teaspoon of the honey/agave (add the yeast to the water and honey stir; allow it to get poofy).
Add the proofed yeast to the dry ingredients; add the olive oil, remaining honey/agave, cider vinegar and mixed egg replacer (or eggs); beat until a smooth batter forms. I use the word batter because gluten-free bread dough is more like smooth sticky muffin batter than wheat based bread dough -- it is not as thin as cake batter, though. Add up to 1/4 cup more water if you need to.
Scrape the dough into a ceramic loaf pan (or use a 7 to 8-inch round cake pan for rustic ciabatta style bread) and smooth evenly (I use wet fingers).
Top with sesame seeds. Place the pan in a warmed oven or draft free spot. Allow the dough to rise until it domes nicely -- from 45 to 50 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
When the oven comes to temperature bake the risen bread until it sounds hollow when thumped -- about 45 minutes to 55 minutes, and even up to 65 minutes if you're at higher altitude. Lower style round pan loaves will bake quicker -- at 30 to 40 minutes, usually.
If you like a crusty loaf, remove the bread from the pan and return it naked to the oven at 350ºF for an additional 10 minutes- keep an eye on it and don't let it get too brown. It should be a light golden color.
Cool on a wire rack.