Monday, March 25, 2013

Easy Vegan Gluten Free Bread

One of the first things that comes up in a conversation about gluten free (GF) eating is the lack of really good bread. I've been pretty unimpressed with commercial GF breads, and many of them are not vegan. So the obvious solution - other than giving up on bread completely - is to make my own.

Gluten free baking is not exactly like "regular" baking. It takes a lot of blending of different types of flours, which might be a bit daunting at first, but the actual process is really much simpler and easier. I've been stocking up on different flours and grains, and even had to clear a shelf on my kitchen island, just for all the jars. I bought the book, Gluten Free and Vegan Bread, by Jennifer Katzinger, which I've had mixed results from. There are lots of gorgeous recipes in the book, and I'll keep exploring it, but I think I'm having some issues with altitude, since I'm baking in Taos, at an elevation of 7,000 feet. If you live at a more normal elevation, I think you'll love the book.

The recipe I'm sharing with you here originally comes from the Aprovechar blog. And while I fell madly in love with it the first time I tried it, I've been messing with it for a couple of weeks now, ever since my friend Patty sent it to me. I've streamlined it a bit, made some changes that suit our tastes better, and even kicked out the oil. What we have here is my go-to bread recipe. This bread is moist and light, but dense enough to hold together for toast or sandwiches. The flavor is just divine, and the crust is firm but not too hard.

I've tried every trick I can find to get this bread to rise to a "normal" height, but so far nothing has worked, with this recipe, or any of the others I've tried from Katzinger's book. I'm blaming the altitude, and sharing this recipe anyway because it tastes so wonderful. I've surrendered to making two little sandwiches if I'm wanting a "whole" sandwich. No problem.

Because there's no gluten to develop, GF bread doesn't require all the kneading that wheat bread does. This means that even with yeast breads, like this one, the work time is cut down significantly. In this case, it's just a matter of stirring it all up and letting it rise in the pans before baking. Count me in. I'm suddenly an avid bread baker.

Easy Vegan Gluten Free Bread
makes 2 loaves

1 1/2 cups millet flour
1/2 cup teff flour
1/2 cup corn flour
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup brown rice flour
1 cup potato starch (potato flour is not the same)
1 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup flax meal
1/4 cup xanthan gum (or guar gum)
1 T salt
1 T baking powder
3 packets yeast
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 T apple cider vinegar (or white vinegar)
3 1/2 cups warm water

Oil 2 bread pans.
Mix all of the dry ingredients, including the yeast, together in a large bowl.
Stir the maple syrup and vinegar into the warm water, and then stir the water into the flour mixture. Stir vigorously for about 2 minutes, to wake the yeast up.
This will be a sloppy dough, actually more like a batter, and there's no need to add more flour.
Spoon the dough into the bread pans, cover with a towel, and set in a warm place to rise for about an hour. The loaves should about double in height - even though they don't do it for me...
Bake in a preheated 350ยบ oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.
If the crust starts to brown too much before the bread is ready, cover it with foil and continue baking.
Remove from pans as soon as they come out of the oven, and cool on a rack. It will slice perfectly after it's cooled off, but it tastes amazing right out of the oven. I can never resist...