Creative Commons photo credit, below.
Making gluten free bread is an exercise in creativity -- all those mysterious yet exciting flours that were completely unknown to many of us even five years ago: millet, sorghum, garbanzo, amaranth, quinoa, tapioca -- even split pea. Yet combining them all to arrive at a delectable gluten free bread that has actually risen (as in, the yeast has not burned through the sugar too early, the loaf is almost grazing the lid of the bread machine) is no mean feat.
In what I have termed "Gluten Free 2.0," the "meatier" flours, such as garbanzo, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat, and almond -- are combined with the lighter, airier flours (potato starch, tapioca, white rice flour are some examples) so that the bread has density as well as lift.
Making one's own bread is great fun, and allows greater latitude and creativity. It also requires an investment. Anyone perused the gluten free flour shelves at the store, recently?
One would be correct in noting that one of the flours listed above -- almond -- is over $10.00 per pound! No, there was no accidental extra zero inserted. Huh. Well, now. Those loaf mixes on sale for $5 or so are starting to look pretty good.
Yet, there is another alternative. Finally . . . we're getting to the coffee grinder. If one is lucky enough to live near a health food store where one can buy gluten free grains in bulk, then one can quickly "grind" one's own flour. For instance, take millet, which I used in the bread I made last night (I'll share the recipe as soon as I get it down pat -- it was a little moist in the middle).
The millet "grain" looks a little like quinoa: little round golden, well, grains. But one can't use the actual grain when one makes bread. One needs flour. Enter the coffee grinder. Just throw in some grains of millet, quinoa, whatever -- and grind it. Voila! Flour. And, here's the kicker. Millet "flour" in a package at a well-known national health foodie type store? $2.99 per pound. The millet grain I purchased in bulk at another health foodie type store? $1.29 per pound. The differences between amaranth grain and flour are similar.
So, get out that coffee grinder and bake away! You can find some recipes for gluten free bread on this site (hint: check out the index).
Sorghum stalks; sorghum flour baked goods; USDA
The photo to the right is by the USDA; it shows sorghum stalks (pretty, aren't they?) and baked goods made with sorghum flour. Sorghum is a gluten free flour. The gluten free cinnamon raisin bread I made just a few hours ago didn't require sorghum; but I substituted two of my favorite nutritious gluten free flours for flours I didn't happen to have on hand. And it worked!
During the rise cycle, I peered in through the window, looking anxiously to see if the bread was creeping up the sides of the pan. It wasn't -- though it was a little puffy in the very center. I held out hope, anyway. And, low and behold, when I looked in through the window about 40 minutes later, during "bake," the bread had risen to a golden crown.
I couldn't believe it! I had made various substitutions, and everything I'd been told about breadmaking emphasized, not only that recipes needed to be followed to the letter, but also that factors seemingly out of one's control -- such as altitude and humidity -- could doom a loaf to hockey-puckdom regardless. And did I mention that no substitutions should be made whatsoever. Whatsoever!
And yet, I made several substitutions. Instead of soy flour and potato starch flour, I used amaranth flour and buckwheat flour. (The other flours required -- white rice flour and tapioca flour -- I did have, and used the correct amounts.) Instead of using 1.5 teaspoons of salt, I used only a teaspoon, because I was using sea salt, which tends to be more potent. The recipe called for 3 extra large eggs; I just had large eggs (not extra-large) so I used four eggs. I also added the eggs much later than I was supposed to (by accident). And, when it came time to add the cinnamon, I looked through every single spice bottle and still couldn't find the cinnamon, but I did have cinnamon sugar -- so I used the same amount of that -- along with about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon I was able to scrape out of the one old jar I could find! Picture later, when I download it from the camera.
This article in the November, 2010 "Runner's World" re the GF diet was discovered by your one and only, while I was working out a few minutes ago. Yeah, print magazines! It restates what I and other gluten free epicureanistas have known all along: the GF diet can be healthier mainly because it requires one to go back to the basics -- beans, nuts, fruits and veggies, meat cooked without a lot of additives. But it's not necessarily healthier, per se. See my page, "Gluten Free for a Healthy Weight?" It also affirms that some GF grains -- quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat -- to name a few, are, indeed, chock full of nutrients, fiber, etc. Please see my blog post (December 10, 2010) about the healthier GF grains: "Amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa: gluten free grains at the the top of the heap!"
Click: Runner's World article re whether GF boosts performance