My oh my, but is has been awhile since I have been able to post to this blog. Not that I haven’t written many posts in my head, including taking all those photos in my mind as well! LOL A few actual photos were taken for future posts. ;-) But I just didn’t find the time to get all I needed to get done AND post here and do the post(s) justice… so I waited… and waited… Writing these posts takes time as well. Fixing (hopefully) all my misspellings, finding appropriate photos for the subject at hand, reading and re-reading and re-reading again to attempt to stay on subject, … oh, but I digress…
This is to be my very first, of which I hope will be MANY, gluten free review posts! My goal? To give you my honest opinion of any things gluten free and dairy free. And not only my opinion of these “items” but that of the Patriarch and Arrow as well. They are my most discerning food critics and none too shy about pointing out the shortcomings of a particular food item. My reviews could be on a store bought item, a cookbook, a recipe post on another blog or just the blog, a restaurant, everything gluten-free is up for grabs in this section!
So, what is to be my very first gluten free review?? Well it is also going to be a dairy-free review as well!! Oh, I can see you sitting on the edge of your seat in front of the computer in eager anticipation. What am I reviewing…
A cookbook… and of all things it is….
Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg, MD & Zoe Francois.
Well the title alone should make you wonder… it says NOTHING about being gluten free or dairy free! Isn’t THAT very thing “usually” upfront and obvious? This is not a cookbook specifically for gluten free folks. It is a cookbook for wheat bread that also has a chapter on gluten free bread.
In my pre-gluten free days, when I was one of the testers for Peter Reinhart’s newest cookbook, Artisan Breads Every Day (of which I have an autographed copy AND am mentioned by name in the acknowledgments… oh heady day!!), I was intrigued by the methods of biga, poolish, and cold overnight fermentation dough. That was added to my already obsessive compulsion with sourdoughs. I had even purchased dry sourdough starters from the sourdough master, Ed Wood and purchased his book, Classic Sourdough. Oooo, I think I’m about to start drooling…. I
love used to love sourdough bread. Must get the right mindset going here… [note to self:] If I can’t have it don’t drool over it! There, I feel so much better now.
So, once I had to eliminate all gluten from my food choices there goes my bread! ACK! And how do I locate a gluten free bread recipe that even my husband would enjoy eating?? So far he has either hated or just disliked (AND could tell it was gluten free) all of the gluten free bread I have bought or made (ok, so there is one exception so far, but that will be a different post!). And I am right there with him on the all the store bought ‘breads’. If they taste like sawdust, have an unpleasant aftertaste or an ‘odd, rather unpleasant flavor’ then why eat it? I, the affirmed bread lover, would rather do without [gasp!] than eat some of this nasty stuff. So I am still searching in stores and trying new recipes…
In my quest for ‘THE’ gluten free bread recipe, I recently started checking out all the gluten free cookbooks from my library to see what gems they might hold for me to explore. And somewhere either online or in another cookbook this cookbook was mentioned.
First, as a gluten free cookbook this would rank pretty low. Granted, this is not a cookbook for the gluten free but for those who have friends and loved ones who are gluten free. Not the lowest ranking, as the recipe I have tried (so far) is pretty good. There is mention of gluten free flours on two pages of the 20 pages in the “Ingredients” chapter. Then in the remainder of the book there is not a single mention of gluten free anywhere until the sole chapter on the gluten free breads. In “Tips & Techniques” there is nothing about the differences between the wheat and the gluten free – which are considerably different. If you are going to have a chapter on gluten free bread, then at least have a shorter version of “Tips & Techniques” in that chapter! None of the “Tips & Techniques” chapter pertain to the gluten free bread in the least. So for those reasons I give this low marks.
Secondly, I did not see a single mention of the absolute necessity for making sure there is NO cross contamination when making something gluten free. Since this is primarily a cookbook for the wheat imbibing crowd, this should have been an absolute MUST! They even consulted with Danny & Shauna Ahern (The Gluten Free Girl & The Chef) for one recipe and they are even consulting at restaurants to help instruct & ensure no cross contamination on the restaurant cooking line for gluten free restaurants!! Not everyone who must go sans gluten will get violently ill from eating a small amount of gluten. But even a small amount of ingested gluten for ALL celiacs will cause damage to the intestines, whether they exhibit symptoms from that ingested bit or not. The wheat imbibing crowd should be made aware of the cross contamination issue. I am a real stickler about this one as I must maintain a kitchen for both the gluten free (me) and the wheat eating (the Patriarch & Arrow). You can find more information about Celic disease here. This also warrants giving this book a very low mark.
Thirdly, there are remarkably few photos for a cookbook and not a single one for the gluten free section!! Nope, nary a one. I would have found it very helpful to know if the dough consistency was right or close by looking at a photo of their dough. And for the non gluten-free cook who is making something for a loved one… well then I would have considered this ESSENTIAL! The dough for the gluten free breads are so much thinner and non-bread-dough-like as to make an inexperienced gluten free cook have a momentary panic attack wondering if they have done something wrong! The consistency of the dough isn’t even mentioned in the gluten free chapter!! I was very surprised & disappointed to say the least.
On a positive note, the gluten free recipes are clearly written with step by step directions (despite the omissions mentioned above). Though one specific step could have used photos AND more explanation (see my notes below). The gluten free brioche dough can also be used as a substitution in a limited number of the ‘regular wheat dough’ pastry recipes.
Also, since you can mix up a batch of dough and then just bake a loaf of bread when you need it, you will always have fresh gluten-free bread when you need it with a minimum of fuss. The wet fermentation process (bigas, poolish, etc) enhances the flavor of the finished product. And (if this is the case with these breads… we ate it all up so I can’t comment on this aspect) if these breads dry out after a day or so and are inedible, it would be super easy to bake in the portions you need for the number of gluten free folks in your family.
After reading the gluten free section and the forward & ‘Tips & Techniques’ a number of times I choose the recipe I wanted to try first….
Cinnamon Rolls! Ooo, it is winter you know. And how lovely would a nice warm cinnamon roll and a cup of tea (coffee, or hot chocolate are also options here for some) be on a frosty morning?? Quite lovely I say. Not only am I gluten free, but dairy free as well, so the recipe I used I also had to adapt in that regard. My plan was to bake these and take them to my church pot luck the next day. Since I was taking them to church I also made the full recipe and baked the whole thing.
I started the dough in the afternoon and was baking the cinnamon rolls that evening. The house was smelling wonderfully cinnamon-y and comforting. Arrow was already in bed for the night once I took the two large pans of hot cinnamon rolls out of the oven. The Patriarch asked if he would be allowed to have one. Oh! Well, I hadn’t said anything about baking anything gluten free… so I thought why not! Good test right out of the oven. The smell must have awakened Arrow as he showed up and I asked if he would also like to try one. His eyes lit up and he said “YES!”. So I fixed one for each of us. The guys asked for seconds. Who am I to refuse?!? And not a single word about wrong consistency, off taste or anything negative. Double Bonus!! I also reheated some for our breakfast the next morning. They were better fresh from the oven, but still good and not one negative comment on the reheated rolls either! Wow I’m on a… roll. LOL One pan g-o-n-e, lickety split. They were equally a hit at church with the gluten free crowd with many requests for my recipe! And I didn’t get a single photo of these wonderful rolls either, sorry. We just ate them up and nearly licked the pan!! When I make them again (ok, twist my arm, please!) I will endeavor to take a photo or two to add to this post. I may also try my hand at photos of the process…
So without further ado here is my adapted recipe (and notes) which is based on the ones from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day:
Brioche – GF DF
Makes enough for three 1 & 1/2 pound loaves. Recipe is easily doubled or halved.
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
3 & 3/4 cups potato starch (original used corn starch, but be sure it is NON GMO!)
2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 tablespoon sea salt (I used Himalayan Pink, its what I have)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon guar gum
2 & 1/2 cups So Delicious coconut milk beverage, original unsweetened
1 cup honey
4 large eggs
1 cup grape-seed oil (or neutral flavored oil)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Egg Wash (1 egg beaten with 1 TBSP water) for brushing on the loaf
Raw sugar for sprinkling on top crust
1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, yeast, salt, xanathan and guar gums in a large 5-quart mixing bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food container.
2. Combine the liquid ingredients and gradually mix them into the dry ingredients until there is no sign of dry flour.
3. Cover (not airtight), and allow the dough to rest for approximately 2 hours.
4. The dough can be used immediately after its initial rise or refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.
5. On baking day, grease a brioche pan or an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan. Use wet hands to break off a 1 & 1/2 pound (small cantaloupe-size) piece of the refrigerated dough. Quickly shape it into a ball. You might need to wet your hands a little more to prevent the dough from sticking and to create a smooth surface, but not so much water as to make the dough soggy.
6. Elongate the ball into a narrow oval and put into the brioche or loaf pan. Allow the loaf to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 90 minutes (40 minutes if you are using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).
7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. If you are not using a stone in the oven, a 5 minute preheat is adequate.
8. Just before baking, use a pastry brush to brush the loaf’s top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.
9. Bake near the center of the oven for approximately 40 – 45 minutes. The loaf is done when caramel brown and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in resting and baking time.
10. Remove the brioche from the pan and allow to cool on a rack before slicing and eating.
Cinnamon Buns – GF DF
Makes 12 buns using 1 & 1/2 pound of GF DF brioche dough.
2/3 cup sucanat
1 & 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped nuts (optional) – [I didn’t use these]
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons So Delicious coconut milk beverage, original unsweetened. Add 1 tablespoon at a time.
1 tablespoon Earth Balance soy-free buttery spread
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (use only organic for this!)
1. On baking day: Grease an 8 inch cake pan. Using wet hands take 1 & 1/2 pounds of dough from container.
2. Sprinkle sugar on a silicone mat or two pieces of plastic wrap with edges overlapping. Cover dough with another piece of plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between the plastic and the silicone mat (or plastic wrap) until you have a 1/4-inch-thick rectangle. Peel off the plastic wrap.
3. Make the filling: Combine the ingredients. Sprinkle filling over the surface of the dough. Roll the dough, starting at the long end, into a log, lifting the silicone mat (or plastic wrap) to help ease dough from its surface.
4. Remove the dough from the mat or plastic and with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, cut the log into 12 equal pieces and arrange them in the pan with the swirled edge visible to you. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest for about 1 hour.
5. 20 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the rack in the center of the oven.
6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tops are lightly brown and the dough feels set when touched.
7. Allow the buns to cool for 5 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate.
8. Make the glaze: Mix together the glaze ingredients and spread the glaze over the tops of the warm buns. These are best eaten while warm.
I am looking forward to trying these again and keeping the dough in the refrigerator to see how the dough consistency changes. The ‘fresh’ dough is quite spongy, very soft and sticks to everything! DO NOT skip the sugar on the silicon mat. Don’t ask me how I know this. ;-) I don’t think I got my rectangle thin enough, as there was only one swirl in each roll. A thinner rectangle would get me more swirls… YUM!
In step 4 for the cinnamon rolls, how does one remove a loose, sticky, fairly unstructured ‘dough log’ and to WHAT and then slice it??? I carefully cut my ‘log’ while still on the silicone mat. BEWARE, if you choose to do this and cut your mat don’t blame me. I also HAD TO USE a silicone scraper to ‘help’ the cut roll off the silicone mat and into the prepared pan. I guess you could place the dough roll into the baking pan, cut and then upend the cut pieces. But the dough sticks and how would you do this with the smaller pan? Impossible!
One other thing I want to try is to get the cinnamon rolls all ready in the pan and place the pan in the refrigerator overnight. Then in the morning allow them to rise and then bake. I’ll edit this post with my trial results.
I also wondered about stirring the dough before removing a portion. It says nothing about this and I wonder how that would affect the outcome…
The glaze was too runny with 2 tablespoons of liquid. I would reduce this to 1 or 1 & 1/2. Or possibly reduce the vanilla. Another great change would be to use orange juice instead of vanilla in the glaze. That would make these JUST LIKE those orange rolls in the tube I used to love.
Let me know of your results if you try these!!