Adventures in gluten-free, dairy-free baking... all part of the fun and future of FLOURS & HUNNY Bakery

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Did I mention the bread?

Amazing, exciting realization... now that I have the perfect gluten-free bread - I will be having THE BEST Thanksgiving stuffing ever!!!  Most years, I've had to make the Thanksgiving meal a "cheat day."  I would just go into that day preparing for the stomach ache, heart-burn, whathaveyou associated with eating gluten.  Or, I'd suck it up and use the store-bought gluten free breads - and that was always a disappointment.  I mean, who needs gummy, dense bread for their stuffing!?

Since I wrote last, I have continued to experiment and now routinely make Buckwheat, Teff, Mesquite, and/or Quinoa loaves.  One of our absolute favorites is an Italian Herb variety - it contains grated sheep's milk Romano cheese, garlic, and herbs.  When you toast a slice of this...mmmm... the entire house smells delicious!!  It's so good, I'm planning to work on the recipe to make it into pizza crust.

And now, the question is... are you ready for Thanksgiving stuffing this year?  If you're still dreading the thought of how to make it gluten-free, order your bread from Flours (that's me) now!  I am taking orders (no, not that kind!) and will only have the time for so many loaves.  Plus, you're going to want to order a few - for eating, and for cooking - and your stuffing bread needs time to get a little old and dry... what are you waiting for then?  Call, email, messenger-bird!  I hope to hear from you soon.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Glorious Gluten-Free Bread

There is something so satisfying about baked-from-scratch bread.  The aroma fills the air, making your house feel like home.  It's warm and inviting and delicious... exactly what our sense of smell was made for!

I once owned a bread maker (as in, the electric machine) and loved to run it for dinner parties and guests.  Outside of that, I didn't really use it much once the new, 90's (?) bread-maker craze had passed.  And when I realized I was gluten-intolerant, it was relegated to the cabinet furthest from reach.  It lived with other unused appliances and gadgets until recently being sold at a yard sale.

The idea of making my own gluten-free bread seemed too difficult and time consuming.  I've always preferred the sweeter creations of cakes, cookies, and muffins.  Store bought varieties of bread are mediocre, at best, but they are less expensive than the time and effort needed to make my own.  Besides that, who needs to eat much bread anyway, right?

Maybe it's the impending change of season on the horizon.  Maybe it's the fact that I am excited for Autumn, which I have sorely missed for the past three years.  Or maybe it's even because I have had enough of that mediocre store-bought, frozen bread... Either way, I have become obsessed with baking my own bread the past few weeks.
I am happy to report that I have been successful!

Fortunately, I have a terrific recipe book called "Gluten-Free Baking Classics" by Annalise Roberts (I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to make their own gluten-free items) and found some awesome recipes online.  Send me a note if you'd like me to share some of the links.

Since I have now had two very, very yummy experiments (one trial and one to validate), I believe I have the perfect foundation recipe.  It includes five different flours, plus a sixth that can be whatever I am craving - Quinoa, Teff, Millet, and even local Tucson Arizona Mesquite flour.  As is everything else I make, it is also dairy-free.  At some point, I'll experiment with a vegan version too.

My bread is beautiful.  It rises well so it's not dense and heavy.  There is very little rice flour so it doesn't have the standard starchy or gummy texture of many of the gluten-free breads out there.  It does not contain any corn or corn derivatives.  The color is reminiscent of a nice, whole wheat variety.  And the nutritional values are, well, nutritional.  Flax seed meal for fiber, lignans, and Omega-3s; a little molasses for iron; organic eggs; very little sweetener or salt; lots of whole grains.  Mmmmm...

I have a feeling this is the beginning of some wonderful breads in our home (and someday in my bakery!).  I plan to keep experimenting and am already dreaming of the add-ins: sunflower seeds, nuts, a variety of spices both sweet and savory, and perhaps some fruit and/or chocolate chips.

Let me know when you're stopping by.  I'll be sure to put some bread in the oven.  :)

Bread making tips:
- Proof your yeast before adding it to your other ingredients.  And don't forget the sweetener that the yeast needs to actually get foamy and active.  I say this because I have forgotten... this morning.
 - Buy a quick-read digital thermometer to use for checking the temperature of your water and of the finished bread.  The inside of a finished loaf should be approximately 190 degrees.
- As with all gluten-free baking, all of your ingredients should be at room temperature.  The only exception, of course, is water/liquid used for proofing yeast or other special instructions in recipe.
 - I get my best results when cooking with aluminum pans that are not non-stick.  The lighter metal color seems to cook more evenly so I am less likely to have over-cooked outsides and under-cooked insides.