The Gluten Free Bread Revolution?

I recently purchased Nicole Hunn’s new cookbook Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread. She has been marketing this new book as the “gluten free bread revolution.” Instead of the regular gluten free bread recipes which call for a basic gluten free flour blend, yeast, a little sugar, and eggs, her recipes include some new types of ingredients that are slightly hard to find. She calls for whey protein isolate and modified tapioca starch (products called Expandex or Ultratex) to create a version of gluten free bread flour. I found the ingredients on Amazon; they were expensive, but I was willing to spend the money to find out if they actually helped make a nicer loaf of bread. 

I started with the first recipe in the book–crusty white bread. First, I had to make the bread flour. To do this, I combined gluten free all purpose flour with the whey protein isolate and Ultratex 3 (modified tapioca starch). I added water and yeast and mixed with a whisk. To that went about one cup of warm water. This creates the “starter,” which rises for about 40 minutes.

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To make the bread dough, mix the other ingredients–honey, salt, more bread flour in with the starter . . . then let rise for about an hour before putting it in the fridge for at least 12 hours. This is a slow, cold rise. It can stay in the fridge for up to 5 days. It is a little bit of a pain to have to wait so many hours to bake the bread, but it also offers some flexibility in that you can make the dough and let it sit basically as long as you want–until you have time to bake. I have made a few other recipes from this book. Each time, I started working on it around 7 pm and finish it in the morning.

After taking it out of the fridge, you have to shape it with extra bread flour and put into the loaf pan for proofing. I’ve been using the microwave as a proofing box–it is the most ingenious thing ever. Put a large bowl of water in the microwave for 10 minutes. Then put the dough in with the water and close the door. It cuts the proofing or rising time nearly in half.

Then, for the baking, put the proofed dough in a cold oven, turn the heat to 350 and set the timer for 30 minutes. Then take the dough out of the pan, but on a cookie sheet, and bake for another ten minutes. This step is genius–it creates a crusty edge on all sides.

And here is the end result:

ImageThe bread was really delicious. I ate several slices with butter and jam. Also grilled cheese. And a chicken curry sandwich. It is a revelation to have bread that you can eat without toasting, that tastes like REAL bread. I made the oatmeal bread recipe too. I think that one was even better. I just made the dough for bagels! I’ve never even made bagels with wheat flour–I’m anxious to see how these turn out.

So, yes, I do believe this is a gluten free bread revolution. Kudos to Nicole Hunn for coming up with this smart technique for improving gluten free bread. Even though the ingredients are expensive, it is worth it. Hopefully if more people start using the ingredients, they will become less expensive. So go buy the book and get baking!

I’ll post pictures of my bagels tomorrow! I’m so excited!!!

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