Pizza, Croissant, Pancake, Doughnut, or the mighty Cro-nut…. Oh yes, my husband (who is English and certainly has a sweet tooth!) will certainly die for. But my poor hubby has to put up with those frozen gluten free bread from the high end supermarkets in HK. They are expensive and taste like old cardboard!
Although it had never been a problem for my husband until recent years, he discovered he is intolerant to gluten. That means anything that is made with wheat flour is a “no” to him and would make him very uncomfortable. So from the days he would live on ‘beans on toast’, has to adapt an ‘all rice’ diet. It is not so bad for me as I would much prefer have rice and few stir fry for dinner anyhow. But it is kind of sad when you cannot even enjoy a simple piece of home made bread.
In fact, speaking to our friends and our friends’ friends, more and more people noticed they are intolerant to gluten one way or other. Some young, but most in their prime years! So if you feel tired all the time or have a funny stomach, you never know it could be something to do with gluten. Gluten is not all bad. It is a kind of protein. And I have read articles that support sourdough (natural yeast) or slow bread, when the traditional way of fermentation has ‘digested’ most of the gluten that people might be allergic to.
Long story short, and thank you to my dear friend, Bonnie, I have started making Gluten Free Bread, just a simple loaf once a week with a magical ingredient called Psyllium Husk. This is a natural ingredient that would work to build the structure of the bread. Another way to put it, this will replace gluten and allow air bubbles building up inside the dough. There is a lot more to write about the science of bread, flour, fermentation, etc. I would suggest you look into The Three Thrum Mum, Gregoire Michaud’s Books and if you are really serious into bread making – The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread.
I know I have said it many times in many occasions and on many social media platforms – Bonnie’s gluten free bread is truly amazing. It tastes like bread. It feels like bread. It smells like bread. And more importantly, she uses simple and low cost ingredients, with only a few steps for this beautiful bread. This is when I started to bake gluten free bread regularly for my family. This is a turning point in my baking journey. For a long time I gave up the idea of gluten free (except the odd macarons. Haha). Thank you again to Bonnie. I now enjoy meeting her regularly to test new ingredients and recipes to improve flavours and diversity of bread for our beautiful families.
Alright, so enough of all my talking and my own little stories. This is how I make my bread, adapted from The Three Thrum Mum’s blog.
Buckwheat & Flaxseed Bread (gluten free – Makes one 2 pound loaf)
250ml (+50ml) of cold water(cold water can slow down the gelling process of the psyllium husk)
1 medium egg (room temperature)
250g of corn starch
100g of Buckwheat (grounded to fine powder)
A tbsp of whole flaxseeds
40g of psylllium husks powder
10g of sugar
15g instant yeast
A few drops of lemon juice
50g of unsalted butter (soften in room temperature)
10g of salt (added only after the dough is mixed well)
(A) The Mixing & the Kneading
- Put all of the dry ingredients (except salt because it may stop the yeast working) into an stand mixer , and mix well
- Beat the egg , add the milk and the 250ml of cold water (the 50ml is optional depending on the dough)
- Use a dough hook and turn on your stand mixer to high speed (if you have a cover for it, use it. We need the speed because the psyllium husks will gel up very quickly), and then slowly pour the liquid into the dry ingredients
- Once they are all incorporated, turn the mixer down to medium speed and knead it until the dough is smooth and feels elastic. This is when you add the lemon juice and the unsalted butter.
- Keep kneading until the butter is all incorporated and you have to feel the dough to see if it needs more water. The mixing bowl should look reasonably clean, meaning your dough isn’t too wet.
- Now the last step is to add the salt and let the mixer blend in the salt into the dough evenly
(B) The Proofing & the Shaping
- Boil some water in a pan
- Grease the baking tin to stop the bread sticking to the side of the tin
- Split the dough to 2 -4 potions, make them into rolls and put them into the baking tin (gluten free bread is very fragile in the proofing stage, so smaller the dough the better it rises)
- Put the baking tin with the dough and the pan of boiling water into the oven.
- Close the door and let the dough and the magic works in this wet and warm environment. Your dough should at least double in size in around 45 to 60 minutes.
(C) The Baking and Cooling off
- Now heat up your oven to 190 degrees C
- Bake your bread in the hot oven for 25 minutes (if you have steam system like a combi oven, that works even better)
- Then remove the bread from the tin, and bake it in 220 degrees C for a further 10 minutes
- Remove from the oven and make sure it cools down completely before you cut them into slices
Okay there are 15 steps, and to some of you it may still sounds a little complicated. But it really just breaks down into 3 major elements, and once you done it once you will get the hang of it. If you have any questions, drop me a line or go to The Three Thrum Mum for her advice.
Its worth it to make it at home – its cheap, tasty, healthy and its made for your loved ones.