Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gluten Free Sandwich Bread Revisited

It’s been over three years since I first discovered the Gluten Free Sandwich Bread Recipe I shared (December 31, 2010), and as with any recipe over time, I’ve adjusted the basic ingredients and added some steps I use in the preparations.

I recently read  Grain Brain by David Perlmutter. He makes the point that many of the current gluten free recipes rely on starches – such as corn or tapioca – which have a high glycemic index and can contribute to type II diabetes.  That led me to start looking at alternatives that might be used in the mix to alleviate some of that impact.  By a happy accident (didn’t think that at the time though) I discovered glutinous rice flour has some interesting properties. Glutinous rice is a flour made from sticky rice.   Although it has roughly the same GI as cornstarch, it has some properties that add to the final bread texture.  Tapioca starch has a slightly lower GI. 

While making pancakes, I used glutinous rice in the batter, with the result of creating some of the best crepes I’ve ever made.  However, it will never work for pancakes.  By replacing the cornstarch – or some part of it – with the glutinous rice added a bit of that elastic property found in wheat gluten.  The resulting loaves are more flexible and hold up in sandwiches better.  No more crumbling onto the plate at that first bite!  I am varying the ingredients and ratios too.  My last batch of flour had a 2:1 of cornstarch and glutinous rice.  (My next batch I replaced the cornstarch with tapioca starch in the same ratio.  I'll let you know how that turned out!)
Another approach to expanding my food options is sprouting.  My first trial was with lentils.  I added the sprouts to the bread, and loved it!  It improved the texture again, added flavor, and increased the amount of protein.

Flour mixture:
3 cup brown rice
2 cup cornstarch
1 cup glutinous rice
1 cup garfava flour
1 cup fava bean flour
1 cup masa harina

2 ½ cups flour mixture*
2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 ½ Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1 ½ cups warm water (not hot)
1 Tablespoon yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar

I’ve tried many treatments for the bread pan, as well as having changed types of pans and oven temperatures.  I find the only thing that works is parchment paper.  I cut it the length of the pan and leave enough to wrap up both sides of the pan.  I set the oven to 250° to allow the bread to rise where it’s really warm – my house is pretty drafty in that corner.

The original recipe suggested using three bowls – one for the dry ingredients, one for the water/yeast/sugar mixture, and one for the oil/eggs/vinegar mixture.  I still do that but with some added steps:
1. I take the eggs out beforehand and let them come to room temperature.  If in a rush, you can warm them up in water too.
2. I mx the yeast mixture first.  I make the water just a bit warmer than usual, then  add the sugar.  I had trouble with the yeast mixing into the water – it would clump up – so I use a fork to break it apart and dissolve into the water, as well as mix the sugar thoroughly.  I wait a few minutes and do the same thing, then leave it sit in a warm place for AT LEAST 5 minutes, sometimes more.  I wait until the top is completely covered with foam.
3. I measure the dry ingredients into a second bowl and then whisk well.
4. Using the third bowl I add the oil, then the eggs, and whisk together.  I hold the vinegar (cider really works better) until the yeast is ready.  When it is, I add the vinegar, whisk again, and pour the mixture into the dry ingredients.  Stir just a bit.
5. I then pour the yeast mixture into the egg bowl using a spatula to scrap the sides, getting all the sugar and yeast.  I use the same spatula stirring the yeast mixture and scraping the sides of the egg bowl, and then transfer all of it into the dry ingredient/egg mixture.  Scrape the sides well of the bowl.

6. I mix everything together with the whisk, wait a few minutes, and insert the parchment.  If you want to add anything extra – sprouts, spices, raisins, cranberries, caraway seeds – do it now. Whisk again, and then pour into the pan.  Level the surface and smooth into all the corners – the batter is usually about an inch below the top of the pan and a thick cake batter consistency.  Set in a warm place, cover if you wish, and let raise.  Usually takes about 40 minutes.  When the bread is about an inch over the top of the pan, it is done.  It will raise a bit more while baking.  Bake at 375° (350° if using Pyrex or glass pan) 50 – 60 minutes.  Remove from oven, loosen ends, and remove from pan.  Carefully tear off the parchment and let cool on one side and then the other.  It needs to be watched a bit to keep it from condensing moisture.

I usually can't resist and have to cut a slice off at this point, but don’t leave the bread on its bottom afterwards; it really needs to cool a good while before that.


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