‘Best’ and ‘gluten free’ in the same sentence? No, it’s not a mistake. I’ve been experimenting. This is the time of binge baking, binge gardening, and hopefully NOT binge cleaning.
I’ve figured out how to make the best gluten free breakfast bread ever. How? It’s all about the science, of course.
Let’s start with gluten. What is it, exactly?
GLUTEN: WHAT IS IT?
Gluten is a group of two proteins found in certain grains. (genus Triticum) The proteins are gliadin and glutenin. Gluten is found in species such as wheat, spelt, barley, and rye. Plant seeds use these proteins to sprout.
WHO NEEDS GLUTEN?
The plants that produce gluten need it! (Okay plants are not a ‘who’.)
Humans have no need for gluten. We have no need for licorice or Dots or birthday cake either, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want these things!
Gluten is the reason why cakes and bread and cupcakes taste fluffy and light and delicious. We don’t need gluten the way we need vitamins and minerals for proper metabolism and immune health, or amino acids to make proteins, synthesize hormones, and neurotransmitters. Etc.
In case you want specifics, here’s a few charts with information about vitamins and minerals.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS : THE SPECIFICS FOR HEALTH
BAKING WITH GLUTEN : TRAPPING CARBON DIOXIDE
When we knead bread dough or mix cake and cookie dough, the gliadin and glutenin cross link. This means they twist and turn and stretch, forming a fibrous network. So what does ‘bread rising’ mean, exactly?
When we mix up our ingredients, we add sugar and a leavening agent to the mix. Leavening agents are yeast, baking powder, and baking soda. The yeast cells react with the sugar, essentially gobbling it up. This is called fermentation. Fermentation results in release of carbon dioxide. (many chemical reactions release gases. I devote an entire chapter in my book Chemical Reactions with Nomad Press, to gases.)
The carbon dioxide actually ‘inflates’ the gluten network. The reason the dough ‘rises’ is that the gluten threads are trapping carbon dioxide.
As our cupcakes, cookies or bread bake in the heat, the gluten coagulates, locking the baked goods into shape.
FACT OR FICTION : IS GLUTEN BAD FOR YOU?
Is gluten bad for you? Will a gluten free diet improve physical or mental health?
I feel better since I stopped eating gluten, but this has not actually been proven.
I do want to add that buying gluten free products can cause other issues, because oftentimes the products have more sugar and fat, less fiber and are less fortified with iron, folic acid, and other nutrients.
I am not an advocate of buying any packaged products, especially those which have a myriad of ingredients, to include excess glucose, fructose, or sodium.
There are several theories as to why gluten may cause or worsen other autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Grave’s disease, type I diabetes, to name a few.
One cause of adverse symptoms after eating gluten could be a wheat allergy, diagnosed by skin testing.
Whether or not someone is diagnosed with celiac disease, a wheat allergy or not, those who feel unwell when they consume gluten should avoid it! (seems so obvious)
Or GI issues could be caused by lactose (sugar in milk) or other conditions such as Chron’s disease, an ulcer, or IBS.
So. After that sobering paragraph….
LETS GET BACK TO THE BEST GLUTEN FREE BAKE!
We’re here to bake a gluten free breakfast bread. There are many choices out there!
Gluten free flour is a combination of brown and white rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, and depending on the brand, a few other ingredients. I was trying to be more of a purist.
I tried three different types of gluten free flour to achieve the best bake, for a lightly sweetened breakfast or snack bread.
1. Almond Flour.
2. Cassava Flour.
3. Oat Flour.
BAKING WITH ALMOND FLOUR
Almond flour is not flour, but ground up almonds. It is grain-free. Packed full of proteins. But these proteins don’t act the same way as gluten. The result is not as light and airy. I used natural almond flour. The blanched variety has the skins removed, which makes it finer so it acts more like flour.
I didn’t grind my almonds into flour, but it’s doable. It’s just that almonds are expensive as is the flour, so to me, the extra work didn’t make sense!
ADVANTAGES OF ALMOND FLOUR
BAKING WITH CASSAVA FLOUR
Cassava flour is made from the root of the cassava plant, a starchy tuber knows as yuca. I admit that I prefer the idea of using a high protein flour so this doesn’t appeal to me. But it’s a blank canvas and more amenable to your fruits and honey.
ADVANTAGES OF CASSAVA FLOUR
BAKING WITH OAT FLOUR
I didn’t buy oat flour. I used the oats that we had already in the cabinet so there is a cost savings. I ground the oats in our blender until they were fine.
*Note : IF you have a true gluten allergy, you can purchase certified gluten free oats!
ADVANTAGES OF OAT FLOUR
KEY TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL GLUTEN FREE BAKE
Okay, we’re at a disadvantage here, not using gluten to make our breakfast bread light and fluffy. But there are six tips that will make you a success, whichever flour you use. (Almond, Oat, or Cassava! Or any I haven’t experimented with for this post)
SIX KEY GLUTEN FREE BAKING TIPS :
Really, it’s more accurate. (Great British Bake-Off anyone?) It’s also easier because the darn almond and cassava flour comes in those small bags.
You can’t overmix your batter and ruin the structure the way you will if you overmix a traditional flour batter. (this makes the cake rubbery)
No, it’s not a steak, but if you allow the dough to sit, covered for 30 minutes, the flours will absorb more liquid. They’ll be less sticky and thicker. This also reduces graininess.
Relying on color, using a knife/toothpick, or touching the bread is not a reliable way to tell it’s done. Gluten free baked goods tend to be slightly wet inside until they are fully cool!
I know, this one is scary! But my last tip will help so the edges wont’t burn….
This helps to achieve desired doneness without burning the edges.
THE BEST GLUTEN FREE BREAKFAST BREAD RECIPE
- Coconut oil or cooking spray for greasing
- Loaf pan
- 1 3/4 cups ground oats or almond flour
- 1/4 cup coconut
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 6 tablespoons honey
- 1 1/4 cups cherries or raspberries or bananas…up to you!
- Pinch of salt
PREPARATION OF CHERRY COCONUT BREAKFAST BREAD
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease your loaf pan.
- If you are making oat flour, take out your blender and grind up your oats.
- With your electric mixer, whisk eggs until light and fluffy. Add honey. Beat until smooth and creamy
- Add dry ingredients….almond or oat flour, coconut, lemon zest, baking powder and pinch of salt…to the wet.
- Remember you cannot over mix non gluten flours so mix longer than you normally would.
- Fold in cherries (or raspberries or bananas, whatever fruit you prefer!)
- Pour mixture into your loaf pan.
- Bake for 40 minutes.
- Cover with foil and bake for an additional 10-20.
- Check doneness with a toothpick or knife after 10 minutes.
- Brush with honey.
- Let cool, then serve!
I can’t wait for you to try this recipe, or use my tips with a different favorite of yours, for a successful gluten free bake!
If you use a different type of gluten free flour, I’d love to hear your thoughts!