It is estimated that one person in every hundred has Coeliac disease, or is sensitive to gluten. Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by a reaction of the gluten protein, found in wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, rye and triticale. The protein causes inflammation of the intestine, resulting in the malabsorption of nutrients. Once thought to be a rare disorder, we now know that the disease is significantly under-diagnosed. Even when a positive diagnosis is obtained the only known treatment at the present time is a gluten-free diet.
There are plenty of gluten-free products in the shops but I like to make my own bread.
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Choosing the Right Flour
Nowadays, most supermarkets carry a wide range of gluten-free products including bread, cakes and biscuits. But I prefer to make my own and it's not as hard as you might think to make great bread. The secret is to choose good quality GF flour, and don't roll, knead or punch the bread mix. GF flour has totally different qualities to regular wheat flour and doesn't take kindly to being over-handled. And another thing... it takes a lot more liquid than regular flour to get the right consistency.
Here's my Foolproof Recipe for Delicious Gluten- and Dairy-Free Bread
- 235g plain gluten-free flour
- 25g caster sugar - the sugar gives colour to the bread
- 1 1/4 tsp xanthum gum
- 7g powdered unflavoured gelatine or 7g powdered Agar Agar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbs fast acting yeast
- 20 ml olive oil
- 200 ml water - this is an approximation as the amount you need might vary depending on the temperature of your kitchen
- 1 egg
- 1 egg white (keep the yolk to one side for glaze)
- Additional vegetable or olive oil to grease tin
- 1/2 tbs Linwoods flaxseed, sunflower and pumpkin seed mix
Optional for Topping:
- If you like a seedy topping you can add a handful of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds.
How to Make Your Gluten and Dairy Free Bread
- Prepare a 1lb loaf tin - brush generously with vegetable or olive oil.
- Put all the dry ingredients - gluten free flour, sugar, xanthan gum, flaxseed mix, gelatine or Agar Agar, salt and yeast - into a large bowl. Mix together really well. I like to use a whisk to do this.
- Bring the water to the boil and allow to cool. The correct temperature is on the hot side of tepid, approximately blood temperature. If you dip your finger in the water it should feel hot but not hot enough to burn. If using Agar Agar dissolve it in the warm water now.
- Add about three-quarters of the water plus olive oil, egg and egg white, to the dry ingredients. Mix together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer for about four minutes. Gradually add more water if you need it until the dough resembles a think cake batter. If you take a dollop on a spoon and hold it up in the air it should just start to drop from the spoon.
- Put the mixture into the prepared tin. It should not come more than halfway up the tin. If it does you might do well to divide the mixture between two tins. Cover loosely with cling film or a plastic shower cap and leave to proof for about 35 minutes. The mixture will, hopefully, double in size.
- If you're used to making regular bread you might be tempted to knock back the dough and leave for a second proofing. Don't do it! Do not remove the dough from the tin.
Baking the Bread
- Preheat the oven to 200 C.
- For a shiny golden crust mix the reserved egg yolk with a pinch of salt and 2 tbs water - glaze the top surface of the unbaked loaf. Alternatively, just glaze with water.
- Bake for about 45 minutes. After the first ten minutes, check the loaf. If the top looks as if it is going brown too quickly cover the loaf with tin foil.
Remove from tin immediately. Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting.