Friday, March 15, 2013

Gluten Free Bread Baking

My first loaf of gluten-free yeast bread

I have had my suspicions for a while that I have a problem with gluten.  I can eat small amounts of wheat-based foods without experiencing any symptoms.  But if I go on a gluten binge, the eczema on my fingers becomes flaming red and ugly.

The main culprits that seem to affect me the most are pizza, bread, pasta, and crackers.  These are also the foods I am the most likely to eat in large quantities in one sitting, which could be why they cause the most problems.

I've cut out gluten at various times in my life--always with good results.  And then I fall off the wagon, so to speak, and eat pizza (one of my most favorite foods) or homemade bread or biscuits (yum!).  Within a few hours my fingers are red and in pain and I can't help but wonder...why do I keep doing this to myself???  You'd think that I'd cut out gluten once and for all since it doesn't agree with me so well.

But I am a carb addict.  I love my carbs in all of its delicious forms.  To give them up is like cutting out chocolate--unthinkable.

Buying gluten-free baked goods is expensive and not something I could do as a regular part of our food budget unless it was absolutely necessary.  So being the bread baker that I am, I decided to try one of the gluten-free bread recipes from my Healthy Bread In 5 Minutes A Day cookbook by Zoe Francois.  I tried their Gluten-Free Olive Oil Bread recipe as my first attempt (mostly because it was the only recipe of which I had all the necessary ingredients already on hand).

I admit I was a little grossed out by the use of 3.5 cups of corn starch.  Really???  Okay.  But I mixed it up anyway figuring if the author thought enough of this recipe, it must be worth a try.  Once the dough was mixed and spent two hours rising, I went to pull a loaf's worth of dough out of the bucket. Being the glutenous bread baker I am, I have never encountered gluten-free yeast dough before.  It was not stretchy or easily shaped like glutenous bread.

It was more of a sloppy mess.  Huh.  What to do with this?  Well, I guess I'll just plop it down onto my already greased french loaf pan sort of like I would with wet biscuit batter and hope for the baking process to magically turn it into a cohesive loaf of delicious french bread.

I baked it just like I would a regular loaf of bread--with a broiler pan filled with 1 cup of boiling water to create a crispy crust.  The only difference in my baking process was to follow the book's recommendation to remove the bread from the pan 2/3rds of the way through the baking process and set it directly on the oven rack for the rest of the baking time.

My first bite into the bread left me surprised.  Up to this point, my only experience with gluten-free baked goods left me with the impression that gluten-free equated gritty texture.  Every other thing I've tried making resulted in a mouthful of what felt like sand.  Yuck.  But this bread was fluffy and smooth.  The crust was crispy just like my regular bread.  The taste was a bit different than what I'm used to, but not unpleasant.  Overall, I was impressed.  It is definitely a bread worth baking again.  And there is even a recipe in the book that uses this dough to make pizza--something I will definitely be trying in the near future.

Now I can eat delicious homemade bread without the yucky side effects.

Week 28 in the series of 52 Weeks of New

Week 18--Having too much Christmas fun to blog
Week 19--A Week of Firsts
Week 20--I Passed the Test
Week 21--???  How did I miss this?
Week 22--I Didn't Scream
Week 23--The Reluctant Servant
Week 24--Snow Day!
Week 25--I Hate Change..Even if it Does Present Me With New Opportunities
Week 26--Bribery and Cooking With Kids
Week 27--Best Laid Plans Interrupted

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