Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gluten-free Bread

A completed (and half-eaten) loaf of our bread.
2.3.11 EDIT: As you can see, I took pics and added them to this post.

First off, I apologize for the lack of accompanying picture with today's post. I have pics of this bread, honest...they're on the recently deceased hard drive, and I can't get at them just yet. If I can recover them, I'll add the pics to the post.

Acknowledgments: I found the original recipe for this bread in Bette Hagman's excellent book, The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Bread. I am sad to report that Bette passed away in 2007. Bette, you were THE guiding light for me during my early days of learning how to feed my family without wheat. Thank you so very much!

This bag contains all the dry ingredients (except yeast) needed to make 2 loaves of bread.

Here's how I handle bread-making at Casa de Hansen:
1. I use stoneware loaf pans to bake my bread in. They make a WORLD of difference in my kitchen when it comes to wheat-free cooking. I purchased my stoneware loaf pans through The Pampered Chef. I expect other brands of stoneware loaf pans will perform similarly, but as I have no experience with anything other than TPC pans, I can't say for sure.
2. I make two loaves of bread at a time for our family of four (two adults, 2 always-hungry kids).
3. I pre-measure the dry ingredients ahead of time (except the yeast!) and store them in the cupboard in gallon-size zip-seal bags. One bag will hold enough dry ingredients for two loaves. I usually do up 7 or 8 2-loaf bags at a time. With my pre-measured ingredients, it takes me about 5 minutes to mix up a loaf of bread. Then, all I need to do is let it rise and bake it. Easy peasy!
If I'm in the process of whipping up bread mixes, and run out of an ingredient,
I tape a little reminder to the bag.

As you can see, I typed up the list of dry ingredients (except yeast, which
needs to be stored in the fridge), along with their measurements. This way,
if I run out of something, I just highlight that ingredient
and tape the list to the bag. Easy peasy!

4. I wouldn't trade my kick-butt KitchenAid stand mixer for ANYTHING. You need serious horsepower when it comes to mixing up gluten-free doughs and batters, and this mixer can handle the job.
5. My little man doesn't do breadcrust (even though it's really good), so we cut the crust off, and pop it into a freezer bag along with the heel ends of the loaf. The bits and pieces of crust will grind up into breadcrumbs (for other recipes) using a food processor or a blender, or you can make a spiffy delicious bread pudding too! I'll post Bette's recipe for this another time, OK?
6. Baking with gluten-free flours is a bit different than baking with wheat - most noticeably, the consistency of the batters/doughs. This particular recipe is gooey sticky - more like a really thick cake batter than the typical bread dough we are all familiar with.

So here's the deal. My current-favorite bread recipe is the New French Bread on page 74 of The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Bread...and it calls for French Bread/Pizza Mix, which is on page 190 of the same book. I've tweaked the recipe so I have all of the required ingredients on one page, and so I can make up my 2-loaf bags...but...I use a small kitchen scale to measure many of the ingredients, since it goes faster for me. Annnnd, since I use a scale for the ingredients required in larger quantities, I don't have measuring cup measurements for you.

Ready? Here goes:

Bette's New French Bread, tweaked by Chris
dry ingredients:
  • 15.8 oz. white rice flour (I find this, tapioca starch, and potato starch at our local Asian grocery stores)
  • 12.6 oz. tapioca starch/flour
  • 21 grams guar gum (we use guar gum because xanthan gum is made with corn, and we can't use corn)
  • 16.4 grams unflavored gelatin
  • 2 oz. sugar
  • 3.2 oz. almond meal or coconut flour
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder (I make my own baking powder too, because almost all commercial brands contain corn starch - I'll post the recipe for that soon, OK?)
  • 2 tbsp. yeast (if you're making up bread mixes ahead of time, don't include this - just add it to your dry ingredients right before you make your loaf)

wet ingredients:
  • 6 large eggs (I omitted the egg replacer originally called for in Hagman's recipe, and just added another 2 eggs)
  • 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (this helps make a better loaf)
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter/margarine
  • 2 cups warm water (warm enough to activate yeast, but not too hot because it'll kill the yeast)(also - you may need to play with the water amount to suit your own cooking style. I found that adding the amount of water listed in the original recipe made it too soupy.)

Grease loaf pans.

Add yeast to dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.

With heavy-duty mixer on low speed, mix together eggs, vinegar, oil or butter, and warm water.

Add dry ingredients and scrape sides down. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

Divide bread batter evenly between both loaf pans, and jiggle pans to settle batter. Cover lightly with waxed paper, and set aside in a warm place to rise for an hour.

Bake in pre-heated 375 degree F oven for about 40 minutes. Turn bread out onto rack to cool. Option: brush exterior of loaf with butter or margarine. If you want to slice your bread before it's fully cool, butter the sides of a serrated knife and cut very gently, without pressing down too much if possible. The butter keeps the hot bread from sticking to the cool metal of the knife.

Once cool, bread may be stored in a plastic bag.

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