So GoodOct/Nov 2010 Issue

Let’s Bake Gluten-Free Bread!

Welcome to Living Without's cooking school. Subject: 101 BREAD BASICS

Learning how to make great gluten-free bread is like learning how to drive a car. Before you can drive, you’ve got to know the basics: how to start the engine, how to steer, how to stop.

Reviewing the function of each ingredient introduces beginning cooks to the concept of substitution—and successful substitution is a key survival skill for every bread-loving baker who happens to be food-allergic or food-sensitive.

Flour.

Gluten-free flours work best in combination. Most blends call for at least one standard flour (white rice, brown rice, etc.) and a couple of starches (tapioca, cornstarch, etc.). With practice, you can personalize bread recipes by using your favorite gluten-free flour blend in place of the blend called for in the recipe. Important: If xanthan gum is already in your favorite blend, do not add extra to your recipe.

In time, you can also customize your flour blend to boost nutrients and tweak flavor. For example, you can substitute high-protein sorghum flour for white rice flour or replace brown rice flour with an equal amount of millet or teff flour. But practice the basics first before attempting to alter your blend.

Important: To ward off grittiness in your loaf, process rice flour in a clean coffee grinder to a super-fine grind.

Liquid.

Different flours require different levels of moisture. Humidity in the air can also change the amount of liquid needed for that perfect loaf. Start with a little less water than the recipe suggests and add more, if needed, as you see the mix become a batter.

One way to learn about moisture is to bake bread dough using a muffin tin rather than a loaf pan. Small muffin-loaves bake and cool quickly so you can taste results faster. Try this exercise: Divide a bread batter among three mixing bowls. Make the first bowl exactly as the recipe instructs, scooping it into greased muffin cups to fill half way. In the second bowl, add 1 tablespoon more water; mix well and scoop into muffin cups. In the third bowl, add 2 tablespoons more water; mix well and scoop into muffin cups. Use as many muffin cups as it takes to use up all the dough. Let dough rise until it reaches the top of the rim. Bake muffin-loaves (350-degree preheated oven for 20 minutes or until done) and taste the three samples. Choose the liquid level you like the best.

Leavening.

Yeast gives bread lift and flavor. It’s activated with warm liquid (105 to 110 degrees) and fed with sugar. If you cannot tolerate yeast, replace it with 1 tablespoon baking powder + 1 teaspoon baking soda (per recipe); add these to the dry ingredients and proceed with your recipe. Your bread will not rise as high as yeast bread. For more lift, beat 2 egg whites until soft peaks form and fold them into the bread batter, in addition to the baking soda and powder.

Eggs can provide leavening, giving bread extra lift and substance. They bind ingredients together and fortify the loaf with protein. Use whole eggs, all egg whites, low cholesterol eggs or egg replacer. (Gluten-free egg replacer is available from Ener-G Foods, ener-g.com.) If you can’t tolerate eggs, try flax gel or salba/chia gel.

Other ingredients.

Salt enhances flavor and helps extend shelf life. Sugar creates a good crumb, helps brown the loaf and feeds the yeast so your bread will rise. Protein (dry milk powder or dry potato flakes) helps form a softer bread. Xanthan gum (or guar gum) is the glue that binds ingredients together, providing elasticity and reducing crumbling.

Measurement.

Flour quantity differs depending on how the flour is measured. Fluff up the flour before you spoon it into the measuring cup; then level off the cup with the flat side of a knife.

Tie on your apron, preheat the oven and bring your ingredients to room temperature. Follow recipe instructions carefully. Take a deep breath—Yes, you can do it!—and get started.


For Memorable Stuffing

Savory Bread Cubes

MAKES 4 CUPS

Here’s a quick way to make bread cubes for delicious holiday stuffing. Bake this bread on a cookie sheet and it’s ready to cube. This recipe also makes Savory Dinner Rolls.

1 cup white rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup potato starch
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning*
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
½ cup dry milk powder or dry potato flakes, optional
1 tablespoon xanthan gum or guar gum
1 tablespoon yeast
3 large eggs, room temperature
¼ cup oil of choice
1 cup water, warm to touch, more or less as needed
- Olive oil, for spraying

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13x18-inch rimmed sheet pan.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine rice flours, tapioca starch, potato starch, seasonings, salt, sugar, milk powder, xanthan gum and yeast.

3. In a separate bowl, blend together eggs, oil and water.

4. Slowly add wet mixture to dry ingredients, blending on low speed until well blended and batter is soft and sticky.

5. Pour batter into prepared sheet pan and bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until done. Allow to cool.

6. Turn bread out of pan and cut into cubes. Return cubes to baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with more poultry seasoning, if desired. Bake for 15 minutes or until toasted.

For Savory Dinner Rolls, scoop batter into 12 greased muffin tins. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes or until done.

Each roll contains 217 calories, 6g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 53mg cholesterol, 214mg sodium, 36g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein.

*TIP To make your own poultry seasoning, blend together 2 teaspoons dried sage + ¾ teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled + ¼ teaspoon ground pepper.


Delicious with Leftover Turkey

Gluten-Free Cranberry Mayo Bread

MAKES 1 LOAF

Bursting with flavor, this sandwich bread is slightly tangy.

1 cup white rice flour
¾ cup brown rice flour
½ cup tapioca starch
½ cup potato starch
¼ cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
½ cup dry milk powder or dry potato flakes, optional
1 tablespoon xanthan gum or guar gum
1 tablespoon yeast
3 large eggs, room temperature
½ cup water or cranberry liquid, warm to touch
½ cup mayonnaise, yogurt or dairy- free yogurt
½ cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce, drained with ½ cup liquid reserved
¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese or dairy-free Swiss cheese, optional

1. Grease an 8½x4½-inch loaf pan.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend together flours, tapioca starch, cornstarch, salt, sugar, milk powder (if desired), xanthan gum and yeast.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, water or cranberry liquid, mayonnaise, cranberries and cheese (if desired).

4. With mixer on low speed, add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients. When ingredients are moistened, increase mixer speed to medium-high, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Mix until all ingredients are combined and mixture has the consistency of cake batter.

5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place loaf in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake loaf in preheated oven for 75 minutes or until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Each slice contains 166 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 42mg cholesterol, 215mg sodium, 30g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 3g protein.

No Yeast. Can Be Dairy Free!

Easy Dairy-Free Dinner Rolls

MAKES 6 TO 8 ROLLS

This simple recipe can be mixed, baked and served in less than an hour.

2 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons milk or water, warm to touch
1 cup plain yogurt or dairy-free yogurt
¼ cup oil of choice
1 teaspoon cider vinegar or rice vinegar
2 cups gluten-free All-Purpose Flour Blend or
     LynnRae’s Flour Blend
½ teaspoon baking soda
1½ teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum
2 teaspoons yeast, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin cups.

2. Mix egg, milk, yogurt, oil and vinegar in a bowl until combined.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, place flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, salt, xanthan gum and yeast (if desired) and blend together. With mixer on low speed, add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

4. Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the dough evenly among the muffin cups. Immediately place the pan in preheated oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until done. Remove rolls from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Each roll contains 223 calories, 9g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 55mg cholesterol, 120mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 5g protein.

LynnRae’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend

MAKES 4 CUPS

½ cup white rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup potato starch
1½ cups cornstarch

1. Combine all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator until used.

Each cup contains 500 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 4mg sodium, 121g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g protein.

LynnRae Ries, author of Delicious Gluten-Free, Wheat-Free Breads, is co-owner of Gluten Free Creations Bakery. She lives in Phoenix.

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