Today, armed with internet research and the insights from gluten-free girl, I made my second attempt on bread. Also known as the holy grail of gluten-free, yeast-free, dairy-free, egg-free cooking. This time, inspired by a gorgeous, Vogue-ready picture of a particularly fluffy-looking loaf, I used the “gluten free yeast free bread rolls” recipe from over at celiactravel. The recipe had this to say about the bread:
It doesn’t sound very likely does it? Gluten free, yeast free, egg free bread? Bread that actually rises and ends up, well, bread-like?
And not only that, but gluten free, yeast free bread that actually tastes like bread - like yeasty bread in fact. How do they do it? I really don’t know actually, it’s some kind of magic.
I only made one replacement, based on a friend’s insight. Xanthan gum, it turns out, is made from a bacteria—which sometimes feeds on gluten or dairy or other allergens. Bob’s Red Mill’s xanthan gum is fed a product made from part of wheat, and the resulting xanthan gum tests gluten-free. So—I have no idea if I’m reactive to that or not? But I decided I wanted to replace xanthan gum this time around, anyway.
Doing further research into xanthan gum, however, led me to believe that replacing it may not be so easy as I’d expected. As this article on xanthan gum vs guar gum on Bob’s Red Mill’s blog suggests, xanthan gum helps to capture air bubbles within the flour. Guar gum, on the other hand, helps to keep heavy particles afloat in the dough. Together, it sounds like a master plan for fluffy! However, it’s clear guar gum does not accomplish exactly the same thing as xanthan gum. (It also suggests mixing the gums with the oil for the bread ahead of time, for maximum effectiveness.)
EHow suggests that you replace xanthan gum with equivalent amounts of coconut flour (with extra liquid) or milled flax seed. However, research into both coconut flour and milled flax seed suggests that while they add texture, nutrition, and taste, they do not seem to help with the air pockets problem.
Nonetheless, I decided to play it safe this time, and I replaced the xanthan gum with coconut flour. Just to see. You never know—the air pocket side effects of coconut may just not be well expounded upon!
The recipe was easy to make, taking all of 10 minutes to prepare and 25 to bake. However, something is definitely wrong with my gluten-free cooking! I blame kitchen imps. Or perhaps faulty measuring cups. But for the second time, adding only half of the amount of liquid suggested in the recipe led my dough to be a soupy mess, not the “thick but wet” dough. In an attempt to rescue the dough, I added the ingredients in proportion to one another until it was at least recognizable as dough—though still wetter than I think was intended by the recipe. (I was still traumatized from my latest, over-floured venture.) And, as there was no way I was making drop rolls out of my bread soup, I used a muffin tin, then baked as usual.
When I tore into the first roll—too desperate to see if it worked to wait for it to cool—I actually gasped out loud. It tore—the bits pulling and stretching with little air pockets—just like bread! I immediately divided it into six pieces, and tried it plain, with margarine, with jam, and with jam and margarine (the last of which was the best). It was amazingly breadlike.
However, it still wasn’t quite right, perhaps due to my mishap with the liquids. Bits had cooked flat, on top of the muffin tin, and if I closed my eyes, I could swear they were saltines, the taste was so alike. And they didn’t rise as much as the bread—and numbers of rolls—in the pictures at celiactravel seemed to suggest they would. (A function of not using xanthan gum, I’m pretty sure.) They had one texture throughout—not harder crust and softer insides—and the crust was nonporous, again much more of a drop biscuit or a muffin than a traditional bread. It also tore and stretched a bit too wetly—almost gummy. Leading me to believe, in combination with the insights from gluten-free girl, that so much effort was put into making the bread fluffy (with starches) that it lost the balance of flours required for a true bread.
Still—the texture was that of bread. It wasn’t grainy at all. And it did rise—and it did taste good. So good I “tested” way too many of them. And—best of all—they’re easy to make. Meaning they’ll be easy to experiment with—and hopefully easy to tweak to suit my tastes.
* * *
Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Yum Factor (Me): 3.5 out of 5 stars*
Yum Factor (NAP): 3.5 out of 5 stars*
Will I Make It Again? Absolutely!
*We actually reduced the Yum Factor of the Buttery Nut Biscuits because these babies raised the bar!