Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Tale of Two Breads

For years I've been pretty okay with the spelt bread I get from my bread machine. Not bad, does the job, dry and crumbly. Two recent events have altered my perspective. First, my husband's business partner is testing out a gluten-free diet and it won't be long before he asks me for guidance. Second, I failed an all rice flour dinner roll recipe. 

On the first point, his biggest gripe was the sticker shock (not taste because he hasn't even gotten that far yet). "Eight dollars for a loaf of BREAD?!!" exclaimed the text. I know it doesn't have to be that expensive but on occasion I've purchased a $4 loaf when I don't have the time or desire to start up the bread machine. Admittedly, that's pretty lazy. Contrary to that tendency, my "conqueress" spirit has emerged. I have now envisioned making bread that would impress even a gluten-lover like my husband -- spongy, moist sandwich bread or a crusty dinner loaf. My current spelt bread is a far cry from normal for most people. If I can demonstrate for friends that gluten-free food can be tasty and yummy and just like their glutenous counterparts, my friends can stop living in agony (and I will feel successful). The closer I can get to "normal" the less intimidating a gluten-free lifestyle will seem.

For the record, spelt is an ancient wheat so yes, it contains gluten. As someone who is sensitive to gluten and not celiac, I tolerate spelt just fine. I like to imagine that the spelt grain hid in the dusty shadows of the pantry while standard wheat underwent poking, prodding, splicing, genetic engineering, everything they've learned since Gregor Mendel opened Pandora's box.

My second point is a post in itself. I started the white rice flour dough (it's not always spelt) in the bread maker on a dough setting so that I could take it out halfway and make it into rolls. To make the long story short, they're not rolls, they're flats.

So here we are at the crossroads of the two breads, or methods rather. I'm pretty sure I can perfect my bread machine output with some refinements. I've heard the yeast needs more time to react, so start it first then add it to the machine. Add 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum for each cup of flour to account for the missing gluten. We'll give those tweaks a shot the next time I pull out the bread machine. It's the other method that is silently begging me to conquer it. Making bread from scratch. I only ever witnessed my mom baking bread on a few occasions long ago. It's a more authentic method that appeals to my from-scratch desire: making my own whipped cream, pancake mix, never using instant rice, ... Eventually I'd like to add pasta to the list, use dried beans instead of canned, etc. I'm still working on this but you get the picture. The book Like Water For Chocolate comes to mind when I consider the time and energy put into cooking for the family. The love comes through in the finished product and nourishes the soul. I suppose it's obvious I'm rooting for the from scratch method. 

It is a far, far better [bread] that I [make], than I have ever done..


km said...

The dried beans is easier than you'd think. You'll have to look up Crock-Pot beans. I think All Recipes has some good options.

I've been wheat free for 18 months and just last week tried my first Udi bread. It was great to have a sandwich, but I think for me, the transition to eating more veggies and alternative grains w/o trying to just replace the bread has been a journey that was worth it.

Ursula said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll try the beans possibly before the bread. They stare at me whenever I open the cupboard :)

Udi's - That's exactly the brand I recommended to G's business partner LOL!

Evelyn Colom Kiggins said...


Great Tale...your writing is uplifting...may your bread keep rising!!!!

Love and Hugs, E.