- Let’s Talk Bread -
Pain, bröd, לחם, or chleb; perhaps you call it duona, ekmek or Нан? Regardless of what how we refer to it, bread is universal and manifests its diversity in various cultures throughout the world.
Yet many of us (often reluctantly) must limit or go without bread, and I’m not just talking about Passover. About a year ago I was really into my baking. I would devour recipes and have a list of things I wanted to make that was long enough to fill a notebook. Or two.
I loved making breads but this hobby of mine pretty much disappeared when I went vegan. Then not long after I embarked upon a gluten free diet for health reasons and baking was entirely absent from my kitchen. It was au revoir and lehitraot to my weekly loaves, especially the challah.
Vegan and gluten free baking come with their own unique demands, yet when combined? You’ve got yourself a challenge. It is certainly not impossible - it just takes patience and practise. One aspect is the new ingredients you encounter; don’t forget you’re replacing gluten flours as well as eggs, milk/cream and butter. It’s a whole new world of binding agents and moisture ratios.
Admittedly many gluten free vegan recipes conjure images of Harry Potter. I can easily imagine Professor Snape dryly commenting that someone has miscalculated or omitted psyllium husk or ground arrowroot.
If you’re really into your baking as a gluten free vegan you might actually have a few of the seemingly esoteric ingredients lying around (I have ground arrowroot, it’s good to use as a thickener in sauces).
- A Basic Loaf -
I want bread in my life, though. For sandwiches, soups and spreads (that was accidental alliteration I promise). Most vegan and gluten free bread recipes seem to require level three alchemy skills, or a NEWT in Potions. They’re more than a little bit intimidating to tackle.
The alternative is to buy one from the store. This is in itself a bit of a mission because usually breads are either vegan and definitely not gluten free, or gluten free but definitely not vegan. There are occasionally the gluten and dairy free loaves, but sometimes there is that sneaky egg included. And even if you find what you’re looking for - it’s usually so expensive and dry! Buying vegan and gluten free bread (including wraps and pittas) is a bit of a treat.
I wanted to make a basic loaf that wouldn’t require me to hike to the root of the himalayas and extract the innards of a cactus. Or result in having to work overtime to pay for the ingredients. It’s true, though; you can make a gluten free vegan loaf at home with half the ingredients of a store bought one, and it’s more moist. Baking at home allows you to play with those moisture ratios.
The ‘no yeast’ aspect of this loaf is accidental rather than intended. I know some people prefer to avoid yeast, but personally I have no issues with it. I just didn’t have any and didn’t want to buy more. Once upon a time I would have been aghast at bread without yeast, but researching gluten free breads has opened up a whole new world. Another advantage is you can skip all the rising and proofing. You just pop it in the oven when you’re done! Thank the powers of baking soda and baking powder.
- The Recipe -
The bread was inspired by this recipe from One Green Planet which I slightly adapted. It’s pretty basic with only a handful of ingredients, most of which many gluten free and vegan bakers will probably already have in their cupboards! And it all comes together with three bowls and one bread tin.
What you’ll need:
- 1 1/2 cup of gluten free all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of buckwheat flour (This recipe could possibly be done without the buckwheat flour, but I personally love the earthy taste it adds.)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
- 1/2 cup plant-based milk
- 1/2 to 1 cup water
- 1 flaxseed egg (1tbsp flaxseed + 3 tbsp water)
I hope these don’t look overly scary. Most people who are gluten free and vegan and do the odd bit of baking, are likely to have most of these in the cupboard.
- The Method -
- In one bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda and powder, xanthan gum, and soft brown sugar
- In another bowl add the cider vinegar, plant-based milk and water followed by the flax egg
- Pour the liquid in with the dry ingredients and mix together until it forms a batter
- Spoon into a greased bread tin and put in the oven for around 50 minutes, it might need a bit more time or less depending on your oven
The reality of gluten free baking is simple: it’s not like baking with gluten flours. You’re not going to have a wet dough, most of the time it’s going to be sticky, or even a batter (like in this case). You’re probably going to need moulds. The first time I attempted gluten free vegan baking I wasn’t entirely aware of this. My batter was sticky and fell apart... It went in the bin. You can read about it here.
Anyway, I hope you like the bread as much as I did. Or at least enjoyed my ramblings about it!