I tried my hand at gluten-free.
Posted by Susie on November 27, 2007
If I hadn’t been a vegan, I probably would have become a bread baker.
It would be nice, I admit, to forget about all this food science stuff along with the prospect of being in school until I’m at least 28. I could have lived a life full of organic flours, fermentation enzymes, gluten development, hearth ovens, sourdough starters, and chewy crusts. Those things always seemed MUCH more awesome during baking school than did pastry crusts, ganache, cookies, whipped cream, royal icing, marzipan flowers, chocolate mousse, or even-EVEN- my sworn arch-rival, angel food cake. Dough always seemed much more mysterious to me. Any given loaf of bread is the result of countless variables. A bread baker with knowledge firmly anchored in the science behind dough mixing, fermentation, and the baking process can spend a lifetime developing and perfecting the art of the science, all in search of the elusive perfect loaf of bread, or bagel, or croissant. And I think thats pretty cool.
However, as it so happens, I’m a vegan, and that changes everything. While the perfect loaf of bread is a elusive, vegan versions of marshmallows, melty cheese, meringue, whipped cream, and angel food cake are a heck of a lot MORE elusive. There are also disconcertingly less people in search of these holy grails than there are bakers obsessed with the size of the air cells in their sourdough loaves. The prospect of solving even one of these mega-vegan-mystery-foods is why I’m content with my choice of 6 more years of school (At least I will be done with my last math class ever in only fifteen days. Knock on wood.)
Recently though, I became aware of a vegan mystery which I hadn’t much considered before, that is, the mystery of vegan gluten free bread. Dearess from the ppk first piqued my interest with her posts about her attempts at finding an ideal bread recipe. Reading about Bottle and ball‘s gluten free baking adventure (and craft) blog was not only inspiring, but she was also awesome enough to help me become less clueless about the GF baking world in a couple of hecka-informative emails. (Thanks!)
Suddenly, I found myself thinking about gluten, and I couldn’t stop. I still can’t stop. It is one damn good mystery, I’ll tell you that. What’s more, this mystery not only involves aspects of egg replacing (because non-vegan gluten free bakers rely a whole lot on egg protein for structure), but it’s BREAD! And bread is still the thing I like the very most, when all is said and done.
So I finally caved in to my “wondering about gluten” thoughts today, and I bought a package of Bob’s red mill Gluten Free Bread Mix. My theory was that if I used my egg replacing skills to replace the egg called for by the recipe on the bag of mix, and if I tried a couple of strategies, that I might be able to make some progress.
Well, I decided to see if tofu protein could help set the gluten free loaf’s structure at all, so thats what I tried today. I made a pretty small batch, so I don’t end up wasting a lot of mix if I failed miserably. I did some really rough math, and figured the recipe on the bag called for liquid that was about 3% protein to be mixed with the mix in a 1.2 : 1 ratio. So this is what I put in my loaf:
100g Bob’s GF bread mix
120g MoriNu soft silken tofu (it was about 5% protein but I figured the more the better)
10g olive oil
Everything went in the food processor. I thought it was downright amazing what those gums that they put in the GF flours do. It almost felt like a gluten dough- almost like it had the “memory” that a gluten dough has. I have no idea which gum must do that- but I intend to read up on it. It was still sticky though.
I let it ferment an hour and a half covered at room temperature. Then I gave it a stir and loaded it into a greased mini loaf pan. It proofed about 45 minutes, then I popped it into the oven at 375. I think it baked about a half hour?
Anyway, I think I had beginner’s luck. I was expecting something much worse:
The moment of truth:
Not a bad crumb!
It’s even bendy and gluteny kind of!
The structure is great, but I am not happy with the taste. I want to break away from using the mix now that I know I can at least make SOMETHING that’s edible. I would like to see how much chickpea flour I can eliminate by maybe upping my tofu protein content, because I think that the chickpea beaniness was my main flavor problem. I also want to experiment with bringing some real “bread” flavor into play using a preferment or something. I can’t imagine why a preferment wouldn’t work with a GF bread, but for some reason all the GF bread recipes I see are straight doughs? Maybe I will find out.
I want to try making gluten free bagels too. Just to say I can. Also, I plan on exploring soy free options once I figure out what the hell I’m doing.- Just for you, Dearess from the ppk!
These gums that were in the GF bread mix though- they were amazing. I kind of have a hunch that maybe these gums and maybe other techniques of GF bakers might find use in non-GF vegan baking? I guess we will see.