Friday, March 26, 2010

Gluten Free Soda Bread

Yes, it's late for St. Patrick's Day, but here's how this recipe came about. Unfortunately, this is how many meals come about in my kitchen.

I had about 3 qt of vegetable beef soup left from Wednesday night soup supper at church. Not quite enough for all of us, but I also had about 2 c of beef chunks left from when I made it the other day. Easy enough to add the meat and some bone broth for a little extra volume. Yeah, well, I must have used my bone broth, because I didn't have any. Not to worry, I added water and taco seasoning and salt. It turned out just fine.

I wanted to make some sort of bread to go along. I have a 25 bag of corn flour that we don't particularly like. It's quite bitter and strong tasting; not to mention I thought I was getting corn meal and when I opened the package, it was corn flour. 25 lb bummer! So I looked around a bit on line for recipes that use corn flour. I have been trying to add it to any baked goods to use it up a little faster. But tonight I wanted something that actually called for corn flour.

I found a recipe for Arepas, a Latin American bread, similar in size to an English muffin, but made with corn flour. I decided to try my hand at them, so I downloaded three videos with instructions from a genuine Venezualan lady. These videos were fun to watch and really well done. But alas, Arepas take a corn flour that is different yet. They take masarepa, or masa precocida, or pre-cooked corn flour. I don't happen to have any on hand. In fact I did not even know it existed. But I really want to make Arepas, so I'll keep my eyes open for some when I'm next in town. I'm not sure Thief River would have any, but we shall see.

Back to the recipe search. I have gotten quite adept at using the mix of flours I've invented. But my GF baking has been extra challenging lately, because I've not been able to get either sorghum or tapioca flour from my buying club. (Azure Standard.) Perhaps their regular farmers had a poor crop last summer. I could, of course get them from Bob's Red Mill and spend $50 on shipping 50 or 75 pounds of flour. Yes, I do usually buy the sorghum 50 pounds at a time and the tapioca at 25 pounds. Or I could buy it a little at a time in the small bags at the grocery store. But even so, in the volume I use, the price is quite prohibitive when buying such small packages. So I've been experimenting with other flour blends, so far without much satisfaction.

Tonight I really wanted to use a recipe for which I had the correct ingredients, but it was not to be. Instead I found this Soda Bread recipe on BBC Food. It looked pretty simple and I had everything (kind of) except the tapioca starch. I wasn't' sure about substituting the potato starch for tapioca, but experience told me it would probably work.

I didn't have buttermilk, and I no longer keep powdered milk on hand. I simply skipped the powdered milk. In place of the buttermilk, I used half potato water and half yogurt. Even with wheat flour baked goods, I often used potato water. But the improvement in texture when using it with Gluten Free recipes is even more remarkable.

There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the volume of the potato starch I ended up with. The original recipe called for 4 oz (1/2 c) tapioca starch. I intended to double the recipe, but somehow I ended up with 2 c. of the potato starch.

I had the recipe up on my computer. I was going back and forth between the cupboards and mixing bowl and computer. Joe came in just then and did some work on the computer, also. I often cook this way, interrupting his computer reading, to have him check on a recipe amount. But somehow between that, and the British measurements, and doubling the recipe, we ended up quadrupling the starch amount.

But it turned out to be an excellent mistake. The bread was wonderful. We've all been somewhat ambivalent about my previous GF biscuit/scone/soda bread attempts before. But this was really quite tasty. The inside was moist and held together well. Often with Gluten Free baked goods, because the flours used are so heavy, the crust gets quite dark before the inside is completely done. But this crust was tender crisp, and not too thick.

I'll have to make it again soon, to make sure the entire thing was not an accident that I'm unable to replicate. But I did make sure to record my changes right away.

GF Soda Bread
Preheat oven to 400F
Grease and lightly flour a jelly roll pan with GF flour of your choice.
Prepare a clean GF floured surface upon which to work your dough when ready.
  • 2 1/2 c brown rice flour
  • 2 c potato starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 c sugar
Wisk together dried ingredients.
  • 1 c yogurt
  • 1 c potato water
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
Mix together wet ingredients.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in some of the wet. Do not pour it all in, but about 2/3 or 3/4 of it. Working with your fingers, as quickly as you can, so as not to overwork your dough, mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Add more liquid if necessary. Dough should hold together, but be neither dry nor especially sticky.

Form a loose ball and move the dough to the floured surface. Divide into two balls and work them just enough to form nice, smooth rounds. Transfer to baking sheet, one at each end. Pat gently to about 1/2 -2 " thick rounds.

Score. I scored mine into eighths, so I had sixteen servings.

Bake at 400F for 5 min., then turn the oven down to 350F, and bake an additional 20-30 min. Dough should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

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