It has been ages since I did a cookery book review and I got a couple for Christmas (wah! How is it possible that we are now closer to this Christmas than last Christmas! Slow down, time, slow down. Although, who am I kidding, I’d have the decorations up all year round if I could) that I haven’t mentioned or spoken about, so . . .
First up is this one:
And let’s just clear something up now – yes, you can make gluten-free bread in 5 minutes a day . . . with preparation . . . and not including rising and baking time. Okay? Are we all alright with that? Hokey cokey, moving on.
The book starts with a little introduction, some information on the difference between Coeliac Disease and wheat intolerance (if you don’t already know) and a list of gluten-free flours and a list of flours / products that do contain gluten – which is helpful to shove under the nose of someone who thinks that gluten-free just means wheat-free . . . *sigh*. SideNote – check out my list of gluten-free flours for more info.
The premise is this – there are two ‘basic’ flour mixes – white and wholegrain – and it is from these two mixes that you then make either a) a simple loaf or b) something more adventurous, such as flatbreads or bagels. However, it is important to start at the beginning, with the basic mix and dough before moving on, just so that you know how they work – more about that in a bit.
There is a section on equipment which will have you frowning a little as it is a teeny bit daunting. It calls for pizza stones and a pizza peel amongst a couple of other bits and bobs, but worry not. I have managed successfully with a sturdy metal baking tray and a fish slice. There are ways around it, especially as, let’s be honest, who has enough room to swing a pizza peel around? They are quite large. And then where do you keep it where it won’t become covered in pet hair tumble-weeds and/or a new pet / toddler toy? A pizza peel is definitely not necessary.
The flour mixes / dough – they are made up of easy to find flours that you will likely have on hand and I like the fact that they give you an option to use either xanthan gum or psyllium powder. The white blend produces a very acceptable loaf that looks like bread. The inside of mine was a little dense, but I think a little extra resting time before baking will help to remedy this. It is the wholegrain loaf that I had trouble with. The blend calls for oat flour, which I can’t use. The suggested substitute is amaranth flour. Aside from the slight earthy, beetroot taste and aroma that amaranth flour provides – which wasn’t off-putting – it also has a tendency to be gummy. And this was the problem. The inside of my loaves (I tried several) always looked and felt under baked and raw, which considering there is egg in the wholegrain loaf, put me off eating it. Therefore I will be staying away from the 100% wholegrain loaf from now on. It may not be as bad when blended with the white flour blend. I have yet to try that option.
The idea is that you make a whopping big batch of blended flour, then a slightly small vat of bread dough which is kept it in the fridge for 5 days, pulling off hunks each day to shape and bake into a loaf – hence the “5 minutes a day”. However, unless you have a small outhouse with a suitably sized fridge inside, making the quantities specified is going to be tricky, but . . . they are easy to divide into smaller quantities, phew!
The quantities stated in the book make the following: 2 kilos of blended flour = enough dough for 8 loaves (made up in two batches of 4)
I make 1 kilo of blended flour and then when I want to make a loaf I turn half of it into dough (enough for 2 loaves). As I find one loaf will happily do me 5 days, I don’t make the second loaf until then. Or the dough can be frozen if you need to keep it for longer between bakes. Does this make sense? I feel as if I am not explaining it very well!
What I am basically trying to say is that you can make small batches than stated in the book!
There are some lovely sounding recipes in the book and I am looking forward to giving the bagels and cinnamon rolls a go now that I have the feel for the dough mix, which is why, as stated above, it is important not to get carried away and dive straight in. Get to understand those basic doughs first, and the world is your bread oyster!