Making and baking bread a new gluten free way

Sliced gluten free pecan bread with Earth Balance spread.
Cinnamon raisin pecan bread made with teff flour and other good things

Right now, my kitchen smells of good things like cinnamon, raisins, flour, olive oil and yeast.

It smells like home.

I’m tired of bad, gluten free bread, so I am now making some of my own bread weekly.  After it cools, I slice and freeze it for my morning toast.  Morning toast and hot tea are among life’s greatest, everyday pleasures.

Two loaves of bread are rising in the oven as they bake, without the standard extra rise normally done for yeast breads.  This is a new concept for me, and it’s the process used by Jennifer Katzinger who owns the Flying Apron bakery in Seattle, WA.  I include the location info and link for you lucky folks who live there or will be visiting soon.  There are times when I wish I lived in Seattle, and not just for the gardening weather.

However, I could never leave my beloved Oklahoma, and further, I digress.

Baking such bread isn’t that difficult once you understand the concept behind Katzinger’s style.  As a small Christmas present to myself (yes, I know I bought a few of those), I ordered her new cookbook, Flying Apron’s Gluten-free & Vegan Baking Book.  Note to those of you new to gluten and casein free baking, vegan is good for us.  Vegan is how I found hempmilk for which I will be eternally grateful.

As soon as the wet and dry ingredients are barely incorporated, you knead the bread a few times and then place it in a 300 degree F. oven where the yeast will expand.  This requires a much, longer cooking time, but I liked the idea of kneading the bread and then letting it do its thing.  Kneading bread was once a passion of mine.  I made beautiful whole-wheat loaves, their slices dripping with butter and honey.

Now that I know gluten and dairy hurts me, I shudder a bit as I write the above paragraph, but it is what it is.  Gluten and dairy give me pain.

So does bad bread, and I’ve eaten too much of it in the past three years.  Covered in ice crystals, the bread from the local “health food” store, costs twice as much as regular bread, and it’s half the size in slice and loaf.  I might as well eat frozen cardboard.

I tried this cookbook because it promised bread with whole grain flours.  I don’t know about you, but I miss the chewy goodness of whole grain.  I’m really tired of white flour made with white rice and bound by tapioca and potato starches.  There’s nothing wrong with these, but they are the nutritional equivalent of bleached white wheat flour (if not worse).  I still use them for certain desserts, but not for my daily bread.

One caveat, Katzinger relies heavily on garbanzo bean flour, and it’s not for everyone either.  I personally like it, but some people don’t like the “beany” taste.  I did read in a comment somewhere (after the bread was in the oven) that toasting the garbanzo bean flours helps dissipate the “beany” taste and smell.

Also, the cookbook is filled with other vegan and gluten free treats which I haven’t tried, but the chemistry in them looks sound.  If the yeast bread is good, I’m sure the cakes and muffins will be too.  One thing I am dying to try (perhaps for Diva’s birthday) is the chai “buttercream” icing.  Katzinger uses it on a spice cake.  We’ll see.  Diva is typically a lemon cake fan.  I could take it to the monthly Nash birthday party as an extra special treat.  We’ll see.

Sliced with Earth Balance spread

Okay, I just ate my first piece, and honestly, it was wonderful.  Full of lovely texture and no beany flavor.  Instead, I caught the aroma and taste first, of yeast, and then a light sweetness (probably from the sweet potato and maple syrup).   The crust is crunchy and excellent, and the middle melts in my mouth.  When I cut the loaf, it did crumble a bit, but I think that was my fault for being impatient.  Instead of butter, I topped mine with Earth Balance’s soy free natural buttery spread.  It is so close to butter that I don’t mind not having butter anymore.  Now, if only someone could make a decent cheese alternative which doesn’t have casein.

But, I can hear you thinking “does it taste like wheat bread?” That is the question we all ask ourselves when we go gluten free.

No, it does not, but then, who cares anyway?  It just tastes good. When serving this fabulous loaf to your family (if you decide to share), give it them and make no excuses.  A lot of cultures make bread without wheat, and now, thanks to innovative chefs like Katzinger, you do too.