Gluten-free Bread

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This week I managed to make a pretty good vegan gluten-free bread! Not an easy task. I’ve spent years experimenting with gluten-free baking, with varying success. I’ve been meaning to actually write down recipes and post them, rather than just doing things by sight/memory/improv. Hopefully I’ll get some more gluten-free recipes up soonish. I have a few gloriously gluten-less cakes in mind, like lime-coconut, lemon gel, and mocha gel. But I digress into cake territory, yet again.

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Here’s the dough rising for its first hour. I had to switch over to a wooden spoon at this point.

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The ingredients together before being whisked, clockwise from left: sunflower seed meal, yeast, flax, baking powder, olive oil, buckwheat flour, molasses, and salt.

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To make sunflower seed flour/meal, just grind raw sunflower seeds until powdery in a coffee/spice grinder. You could also sub out any other nut meal flour, like almond or cashew.

 

Vegan Gluten-Free Sunflower Seed Bread

makes 2 medium loaves

Ingredients:

4 c sunflower seed meal

3.5 c buckwheat flour

4 tsp flax seeds, ground

1.5 tsp salt

2 TB molasses

2 TB olive oil (Edit: or coconut oil or sesame oil)

1 TB yeast

3 TB baking powder

4 c warm water

 

Directions:

Whisk together all ingredients and let sit, covered, to rise for an hour. Switch to a wooden spoon, and give the batter/dough a good stir before allowing to rest and rise for a second hour in the bowl. Gluten-free flours, being often of hearty whole grains, benefit from longer sitting to allow the flour to absorb and fully hydrate.

Grease two medium bread pans (not used for glutenous bread). Split the dough between the pans, smoothing the tops just a bit. Let rise in the pans for 40 minutes, until just puffing above the edge of the pans. Gently place in a 350 F oven, bake for 45 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pans for 15 minutes after removing from the oven. Use a butter knife to run along the sides of the pans, then dump the loaves out onto a cutting board. They may need a couple of taps to pop out.

Then, a golden crust. A strong crumb that holds together. A tasty, toasty, nutty flavor that is yeasty like bread, and otherworldly delicious! Whether you’re gluten-free or you have gluten-free friends, a loaf like this, steaming from the oven, is a sight (and taste, and smell) to behold.

Sure, the peculiar taste of buckwheat isn’t for everyone, I just happen to be a lifelong fan of it. Buckwheat is high in magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant. Mixed with the extra protein of the sunflower seeds, a wonderful nuttiness comes out strong, if you enjoy that like I do.

Today I also attempted another VGF bread made from red lentils and rice flour. It was less picturesque, although a pleasant dusty sunset color, and tasted great flavored with basil & rosemary. But that is a bread for another day.

 

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Sprouts & Salads

It’s so easy to sprout things, and then they’re alive! Sprouting changes the texture and make-up of beans to make them more edible with less digestive issues, and makes some vitamins more accessible. There’s just something special about eating a live bean rather than a dull, dried bean (nothing against them, I cooked some yummy pinto beans with apples & turmeric the other day). My favorites for sprouting are green lentils, mung beans, alfalfa, chickpeas, and sunflower seeds (raw, not toasted – non-irradiated). Making sprouts adds a fresh-grown item that could be a good substitute for salad during low-yield times in the garden.

I like the way sprouts twist and curl and reach out. And their crisp crunch that tastes so fresh and clean. Here I have added some green lentil sprouts along with mung beans, chickpeas, navy beans, pintos, chard, dill, lemon, & olive oil to make a glorious 5-bean salad, a step up from the white bean salad I’ve been making lately.

First soak your bean/seed of choice (dried, not canned or cooked) in cold water for the first day, to fully hydrate. Then rinse them with fresh cool water twice a day (morning & night), straining the water out. All they need to live is water and a bit of air, and they will start sprouting in a couple of days. When the sprouts are big enough for your taste, refrigerate them to prevent overgrowing. It’s that simple.

I sprout in a metal pot with a holey lid, and strain with a sieve. In the past I’ve used a set-up with glass mason jars fit with screened lids, that you can simply fill with water and strain without having to undo the lid.

We’ve had some red sumac powder in the pantry that someone saved last fall. It’s an unusual item that looks like chili powder but isn’t spicy at all. It tastes very lemony, kind of like a whiskey sour. Here I have combined sumac with lime juice, olive oil, turmeric, white pepper, and pickled beet juice to make a lovely colorful dressing that probably most people weren’t sure what to do with. Also shown here is a coconut-mint-lime dressing (coconut milk adds a creamy factor to vegan dressings), and a spicy thai dressing with a green bell pepper puree.