Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Give us this day our Daily Bread

Five Flour Yeast Bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil
(Click on this picture for a more enhanced view)

I have missed bread. I had no idea how much.

About 5 weeks ago when I started this gluten-free journey, Michael and I headed to the closest Whole Foods store about an hour from where we live. I was overjoyed when I arrived and saw all the wonderful gluten-free options that were available. I never would have been able to walk into a grocery store in the small town we live in and find gluten-free breads, cake mixes, cereals, pizzas, pastas, etc... I felt wonderful to be surrounded by such loving food.

On the ride home, after my sighs of contentment had settled... another thought came to my mind... I was going to have to trudge to Raleigh at least once a month to buy frozen gluten-free breads, flours, etc... I didn't like the thought. It felt strange to think that I would have to rely on a grocery store 50 miles away for our food. I don't mind Raleigh so much... but I commute to work during the week and weekends are usually respites from traveling.

I really wasn't interested in trying to make gluten free bread from scratch. In my pre-GF days, I attempted to make homemade yeast bread more times than I care to remember. The majority of my attempts were miserable failures. The few times I made a somewhat edible loaf, it was only edible for several hours until it seemed to dry out and was no good at all except for feeding ducks at a nearby pond.

I began reading Bette Hagman's books several weeks ago. Bette was an absolute genius when it came to gluten-free baking and discovering the world of flour beyond wheat. Even if you aren't gluten-free her books are a very interesting read. Bette, a non-cook before learning she was diagnosed with celiac disease, usually devoted at least one chapter of her books to bread making. In the beginning, I read these chapters in awe, but knew that I probably wouldn't attempt these recipes because of my past failures in the bread making realm.

Enter the bread machine. Normally, I am not a fan of single-use kitchen appliances. In my small kitchen I neither have the counter space nor storage space for devices that I'm not going to use on a daily basis. So in the past, I never thought that I would need or want a bread machine.

My mother in law has a different philosophy concerning kitchen appliances. She loves them. She wouldn't admit to this, but I think she has such a large affinity for them, that she owns a small museum of these wonderful gadgets. Most of them are waiting (and have been waiting for quite some time) for the perfect moment of use... and she just happened to have a bread machine!

Graciously, she let me borrow her bread machine. It has been an adventure!

I have to admit that at first, I was sort of afraid of this large machine. It hadn't been used in some time and I have a subliminal fear of unused electronic equipment exploding upon sudden ignition. (I have daydreams of my car exploding in our carport for no reason at all... stop laughing... I have no idea why... ;-)

But amazingly it worked (without a single explosion!)

It worked very well. It worked so well that I made two loaves of bread this weekend. I tested two recipes. I didn't follow either recipe exactly, and I liked the 2nd concoction better than the first. The following recipe is basically Bette Hagman's recipe for True Yeast Bread (found on page 53 of the revised edition of The Gluten-Free Gourmet.) I changed the flours to what I had on hand, added ground flax seeds for extra fiber, and used good quality extra virgin olive oil as opposed to butter.

Don't let the long list of ingredients fool you. This was incredibly simple to make using a bread machine. If you want to do it by hand.. don't ask me how... read Bette's book! If you prefer to use your own mix of flours, you simply need 3 cups of flour for the recipe.

I can promise you that from this point forward, I will not be relying on Whole Foods to supply my gluten-free bread... This recipe turned out a delicious, lightly-crusted loaf. Upon slicing, it is springy to the touch and delicious with extra virgin olive oil or fresh butter. The texture of this bread is as close to a wheat loaf as I could possibly imagine! As a matter of fact, I don't know that wheat could possibly be any better than this wonderfully light, yet whole grain textured bread. I love using ground flax seeds in the dough, the tiny flecks give this bread a beautiful, earthy, and whole grain appearance.

I am looking forward to future Saturday mornings with the aroma of freshly baked bread wafting from my kitchen. My mother-in-law, may not be seeing her bread machine for a while!

And yes... Michael loved it!

Carrie's Five Flour Yeast Bread

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch flour
  • 1/2 cup whole ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder
  • 2 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. rapid rise yeast granules
  • 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. vinegar (or dough enhancer)
  • 2 eggs

Directions for a bread machine:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add all flours, sugar, xanthan gum, milk powder, unflavored gelatin, and salt. Mix together thoroughly. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl beat eggs, add water, olive oil, and vinegar, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour egg mixture into the bottom of your bread machine pan.
  4. Sprinkle in flour mixture so it is distributed evenly in the pan to cover the liquids.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the yeast.
  6. Set bread machine to desired setting. (I used the basic rapid rise cycle.)

This is my entry to the World Bread Day blogging event sponsored by Gluten-Free A-G0-Go! Bake your own masterpiece and participate in the bake off!

Check back tomorrow for some excellent cookies and yummy comfort food!
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