A gluten free loaf that really works
|Preparation Time: 30 minutes||Baking Time: 35-40 minutes||Yield: 1 loaf|
Take a close look at the loaf of bread in the picture. Looks just like a fairly rustic loaf of farm baked white bread, doesn’t it? The kind of loaf you’d expect to be baked from stone-ground wheat flour, not so? Well I’ve got news for you, it is anything but.
After discovering a few months ago, that I have a gluten and bran intolerance , I cut all foods out of my diet that contained either. This meant of course, that I could no longer even eat the sourdough rye bread that I have baked for the last few years, so that too came to an end. Any grain with gluten or bran was taboo, and this of course includes wheat, rye and even spelt, all of which inflict upon me varying degrees of acid indigestion.
The attendant benefits aside (no acid indigestion and remarkably easy weight control), I really did miss being able to cut a slice of bread, toasted to perfection, buttered while still hot and spread on a thick layer of fish paste, peanut butter or marmalade depending upon what took my fancy at the time.
Dear daughter Alex’s return from her sojourn in Australia changed the balance of power in the household, and I was “persuaded” to create a sourdough starter, and once more bake the weekly Rye/wheat loaf. Determined to not be excluded from the pleasure of a slice of toast, I spent hours researching bread recipes seeking one that is completely gluten and brand free but did not have the texture of dried toothpaste or the density of lead. I did, at one stage, buy a wheat free “loaf” from a prominent retailer, which consisted of six or seven slices of bread, each about the size of a slice of Melba toast, which retailed for R19. I stopped buying it, when Mrs M pointed out to me that the “loaf” lasted for two breakfasts, and was therefore somewhat uneconomical. This spurred me on to greater efforts, to seek an alternative that was light, palatable and did not break the bank.
I eventually happened upon a recipe that seemed to fit the bill. My first effort wasn’t quite what I expected, but the result was considerably better than anything I’d tried before. I spent the next couple of weeks fiddling with ingredients and baking times until I eventually struck upon the perfect recipe, and that’s the one which you see in the picture. The cardinal lesson I’ve learned, is that gluten free baked goods are stodgy and unappetising because the dough is generally too dry.
It uses none of the “evil” grains, rather relying on tapioca, cornflour, and potato flour, and xantham gum to give the structure normally provided by gluten. It is remarkably easy to make, taking only two hours, including proving and baking time. Even Mrs M likes it, and that’s saying something. I find that it keeps very well in a zip-lock bag in the fridge, so I am able to bake once a week. It toasts beautifully, and it also makes a lovely sandwich.
Cornflour and potato flour are freely available at supermarkets, but you’ll probably have to go to a health shop for the tapioca flour and xantham gum. Pricewise, at between R 15 and R20 per 500 g pack of flour, it is still a relatively inexpensive alternative to buying a wheat free loaf, ready baked. The recipe uses more or less cup of each of the flowers, and a 500 g pack renders about 3 cups of each, which puts the cost of the principal ingredient of a loaf at around R20, about twice what one pays for a top-end loaf of white bread in a supermarket do you do.
Ingredients, selection and preparation
1 cup and 1 tbsp (265ml) tapioca flour
1 1/8 cup (280ml) potato flour
1 cup (250ml) cornflour: more commonly known by its trade name of Maizena
2 ½ tsp (12.5ml) xantham gum
2 tsp (10ml) salt
¼ tsp (1.25ml) cream of tartar
3 tbsp (45ml) brown sugar
2 /14 tsp (11.25ml) active dried yeast
3 eggs: beaten
3 tbsp (45ml) vegetable oil
1 1/8 cup (280ml) hot, but not boiling, water
combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium mixing- or stand mixer, bowl and whisk or beat briskly to mix well. If you’re using a stand mixer, use the paddle rather than the dough hook.
In a separate medium mixing bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and whisk briskly to mix.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and beat until a sticky ball begins to form. This can take anything up to three minutes with a stand mixer, probably longer by hand.
At this point, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for a further minute.
Butter a standard bread tin(30Lx13Wx9H) well, and scrape the dough, which will be very sticky, into the tin. Using a wet spatula, spread the dough so that it evenly covers the base of the bread tin. Don’t be surprised at how little dughe there appears to be in the tin. It will probably be around 2 to 2 1/2 cm deep, but believe it or not, the dough will rise to a centimetre or more above the rim of the tin before it goes into the oven to be baked.
Cover the bread tin with an oiled sheet of clingfilm, and put in a warm draught free place to prove for about an hour. I actually use my oven on fan at about 35 deg C to prove the dough, and it works like a charm.
When the dough has risen above the lip of the bread tin, set it aside covered to stay warm, and preheat your oven to 190 deg C (170 deg C fan oven).
Carefully remove the cling film, and with an oiled knife blade, cut a slit down the centre of the loaf lengthwise. This will avoid the loaf from cracking on either of the sides as it rises in the oven.
Place the bread tin in mid-oven, and bake for 35 minutes, turning the tin halfway through if you’re using a fan oven, to avoid it browning too much on the one side.
After 35 minutes, pierce the loaf to the centre with a sharp thin bladed knife, to check that it is baked through. If the knife emerges sticky, bake it for a further five minutes. The loaf should sound quite hollow when tapped with the back of a spoon.
Carefully remove the loaf from the bread tin, and set on a rack to cool. Enjoy!