Thursday, September 29, 2011

Gluten free bread with polenta

Finally, homemade gluten-free delicious toast!

Good gluten-free bread seems to be a holy grail of GF baking. After eating rice bread that feels and tastes like Styrofoam, or a tasty but tiny loaf that costs $6.50 and is usually out of stock at my store, I get why. I used to pretty much live on toast; it is simple and tasty, and a delicious vehicle for condiments that I like, and it was nearly a tragedy when I first began seeking gluten-free options. What does one do without peanut-butter toast in the morning?

Normally we would just avoid toast and sandwiches altogether, but I just started a job (yay!!) and need convenient meals I can eat while standing. So that is where this bread fits in.

I tried a number of different recipes from different sources, and the one I ended up liking best was this  from the Gluten-Free Goddess. I recently discovered her blog, and I really love her recipes! This is my adaptation, based on what I like, and the humid Pacific Northwest climate I live in. Based on humidity, or the flours you use, you may need to adjust the flour or water. The recipe I linked you to has a lot of commentary on other ways that the recipe can be modified based on climate etc.

My flour mix that I have been using is a ratio of 2:1:1:1:1 of sorghum, millet, quinoa, oat, and brown rice, respectively. Use the flours you like, and as always, make sure they are certified GF.

The Man and I had people over a couple of weeks ago, and fed them this bread. No one complained, even though they can all eat gluten, and they seemed to think it was perfectly fine bread. As a GF baker, I know I have achieved success when people without food allergies like it! The polenta makes this a bit crunchy (though if having the granules in your bread will bother you, use cornmeal or maybe almond meal) and using either honey or molasses makes this bread tender.

Gluten-free bread with polenta

1 c warm water (plus 0.5 c)
2.25 tsp yeast
1 tsp sugar (brown or white)

4 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs honey or molasses
2 eggs
0.5 tsp lemon juice

0.5 c polenta or cornmeal
1.5 c GF flour mix plus 0.5 c
0.5 c cornstarch
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp xanthan gum

Combine the 1 c water, yeast, and sugar into a bowl. This step is “proofing” the yeast. Let this mixture sit until it becomes foamy, about 10 minutes.

Add the other wet ingredients and stir. Note that if you measure out the olive oil prior to the honey or molasses, and use the same measuring spoon, then the honey/molasses won't get stuck to the spoon.

Add the polenta to the wet ingredients, and stir for a minute, then let sit for five to ten minutes, to allow it to soften (Edit: if using polenta rather than cornmeal, let it sit 15-20 minutes so that it can soften better, I have found that 5 minutes isn't long enough and you end up with granules in the finished product). Add the 1.5 cups flour, cornstarch, sea salt, and xanthan gum, and mix together.

Depending on humidity or the property of flours you use, the dough may be either too wet or two dry. It will not look like normal glutenous dough at all, it should be the same consistency as thick muffin batter. If the dough is too dry or thick, add water in a tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too wet (it should not be as wet as cake batter!) then add flour a tablespoon at a time.

When the dough is the right consistency, pour it into a greased bread pan. Cover with a cloth and let the bread rise for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Bake until the top is golden brown, and the insides are fully cooked, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the pan and put onto a wire rack immediately, this prevents the crust from getting soggy.

Yields one loaf.

 Proofed yeast is foamy
 The dough will look like thick batter, and should be rather stiff.
 The dough does not smooth out during baking like glutenous bread would, so be sure to smooth out the dough with a wet spatula or a spoon.
 Smoothed-out dough
This is after the bread has risen. I made a double recipe, hence the two loaves.
 The loaf after baking. The bread doesn't "poof" like what I am used to, but that's ok.
You know you are a GF baker when you get really excited about air pockets.

This makes really good toast, and is pretty decent in sandwiches. It tastes good, freezes pretty well, and makes me happy. I will definitely keep tweaking this recipe, but this will continue to be my go-to bread recipe when I don't want to pay $6.50 for store GF bread.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Ah, September. The time of year where kids are going back to school, the weather is beginning to turn, and your friends and neighbors try to pawn off ten-pound zucchinis on you.

I love zucchini, I really do. I have even (unsuccessfully) tried to grow them on my porch before. But it seems funny when I go to church or volunteer at the local high school, and somehow come back with enormous zucchini, because I cannot resist free produce.

Fairly recently, I used up maybe a pound of one such squash (they are a summer squash according to the wikipedia) in ratatouille, and another half-pound of it in soup. But I still had about a foot of the vegetable to use up. I looked at a number of zucchini bread recipes, but most of them used a mere cup of zucchini.

I stumbled upon this recipe, and the fact that it used up 3 cups of zucchini meant I had to try it. It was already a really good recipe, but I made a few tweaks, including making it dairy-free without using soy.

This is the sort of muffin that seems rather virtuous; it contains vegetables, whole grains, and not too much fat or sugar. I like that it isn't very sweet, thar makes it a pretty good breakfast food.

I used an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, which was about 2:1:1:1:1 of sorghum, millet, quinoa, oat and brown rice flour, respectively.

Make sure that your flours, vanilla extract, cocoa powder etc. are gluten-free and dairy-free, if those allergies apply to you.

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, gluten and dairy-free

2 cups GF flour mix
1.5 tsp xanthan gum
0.5 tsp salt
1.5 tsp baking soda
0.5 c cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
0.5 c granulated sugar
0.5 c brown sugar
3 large eggs
0.5 c vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups shredded zucchini

Put the shredded zucchini into a strainer over a bowl, and gently press down on the zucchini with the back of a spoon, to drain. Allow excess liquid to drip off while you make the batter. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, gum, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the sugars, eggs, vegetable oil and vanilla until the batter is combined. Stir in the zucchini. Stir in the flour mixture.

Fill muffin tins half full of batter. Alternatively, place the batter in a bread tin.

Bake muffins for 23-30 minutes, and loaves for 50 minutes. After the muffins or loaf has cooled for five minutes in its tin, remove the muffins/loaf and place on a wire rack to finish cooling. This prevents a soggy surface.

Makes 24 muffins