Finally, there is a little extra time to pen down our thoughts and experiences regarding our newly adapted recipe from our book “A Celebration of Gluten free Baking.” We tested the recipe many times, in an effort to deliver consistently good results. Especially in light of the fact that we are actually experiencing higher humidity levels in New Mexico, due to the increasing storms traveling our way from the Gulf region, we can actually experiment with, and learn more about the influence that increased moisture has on our many recipes. Before we present you with the results of our latest accomplishment, we wanted to explore just what a stronghold bread, especially the gluten containing variety, seems to have on so many people.
In the gluten free community, any discussion about bread inevitably stresses the differences we each bring into our experience with it. When newly diagnosed as gluten intolerant, or with celiac disease, many don’t immediately realize the implications this brings with it. In our case, we were just delighted to finally know what had been ailing us for so long. But some may not have had a lot of outward symptoms and move straight into denial about the seriousness of the situation. We experienced this in our own extended family – hence the birth of our book last year. Gluten free baking brings a few new challenges with it. For all the happy bakers out there, baking bread takes on a new form, using completely different techniques. No more kneading the dough – in fact, it was quite shocking for us to deal with the liquid texture of this type of dough. Some of you have never ever attempted to bake anything, and are just now happily switching from buying the traditional gluten containing bread to the gluten free offerings. Whatever your situation may be, learning is ongoing. Admittedly, some of the commercial offerings have improved significantly over the last several years, but there is simply nothing like a home-made, tasty sandwich bread with a crunchy outer crust topped with toasted seeds. Gluten tolerant folks generally don’t understand the unique challenges we face, since bread has such deep seated roots in our world’s cultural history. It goes far beyond just learning to live without gluten. For some of us, the initial healing phase requires the complete elimination of any kind of flour, especially in light of the fact, that most recipes require the addition of dairy, and/or eggs, an additional allergen for some. Even when we offer a recipe in the traditional way, i.e. using eggs and dairy, we learned that any of our gluten free recipes work well by substituting coconut milk for regular milk and a flax meal/water combo for eggs. That’s why we delved into exploring some of our history with regards to bread and wanted to share it with you. The adaptation to gluten free living is really quite simple, but as it turns out it is our own mental and emotional conditioning, going back generations, that challenges so many and makes it difficult to achieve true wellness. Our own expectations, and unconscious inner programing since birth, lead us into this frenzy for the perfect recipe. Perhaps with a renewed focus on health rather than a misguided concept of a certain look we are longing to achieve, we can break this cultural conditioning. Grains, especially in their refined form, are a relatively new idea. When you examine the many chronic and life threatening medical conditions that have emerged over time, you can connect the dots and draw your own conclusions.Hope you enjoy reading this and we look forward to hearing from you regarding our recipe and your experiences with it.
Over a long period of humanity’s history, bread has held a special place in the world’s cultures and societies. Social gatherings and connecting with people conjure up images and memories of sitting together sharing our thoughts and breaking bread.
For some, this represents a giving of themselves in the gift of the preparation of the bread, the welcoming of a stranger to our table, etc., and has become a central and expected part of our social rituals. It is synonymous with reaching out to one another, sharing and connecting on a deeper personal level. Just exploring the linguistic roots of the word “companion” we learn that it is derived from the Latin words “com”, meaning “with” and the word “panis,” meaning “bread.”
Let us explore the origins of bread and how its significance has carried its own weight for thousands of years.
Bread is said to be the oldest prepared food, dating back to the Neolithic era.
Up to this point, history teaches us that humans lived as hunter gatherers for eons, prior to the relatively new development of cultivating grains. This new innovation allowed humans to settle in a fixed location, and as a result, have formed the dietary foundation of many of today’s cultures. Historians have traced the use of wheat and barley as far back as 10,000 B.C. The people in this early part of our history consumed grains only as they found them in the wild. These would have been consumed on a fairly small scale, just like seeds, for example, and would have been eaten fresh, or dried like seeds. Just for a moment, think of just how few grains you would actually be consuming by today’s excessive standards, if you had to gather them in this fashion. Yet, at about this time in humanity’s history, early farming practices were limited to the grains einkorn, wheat, millet and spelt. The very first “bread” did not resemble in any way, shape, or form, today’s versions. This first “prototype” was probably a cooked version of a type of grain paste, made from ground cereal grains and water.
Evidence of the first breads, as we know them, did not come about until 2,500 B.C., when sourdough was created, probably through accidental leavening, since yeast spores develop quite naturally in any dough left to rest, and will eventually leaven the dough. Airborne yeasts could be grown by leaving uncooked dough exposed to the air for some time before cooking.
The Ancient Egyptians baked bread in bread molds, placed in an oven, in contrast to the Assyrians, who placed the dough in heated earthen pots, that were then sealed and buried in the ground.
Proper ovens were developed by the Greeks who created a wide variety of doughs and styles of bread. The Greeks are also being credited for developing dessert breads, puddings, pastries, etc.
Under the rule of the Roman Empire, bakers began to use beer yeast to improve and control the rising of the dough. Leavened bread became the staple of the masses. Pliny the Elder
reported that the Gauls and Iberians used the foam from beer to produce a lighter kind of bread than other peoples. Many parts of the ancient world drank wine instead of beer and as a result preferred to use a paste made of grape juice and flour, that was allowed to ferment, or a wheat bran steeped in wine, as a source of yeast for leavening the bread dough.
The most common source of leavening to this very day is to retain a piece of dough from the previous batch to use as a sourdough starter.
The more recent invention of bread makers for the home have helped automate the bread making process and have enabled many to explore the art of bread making (even in the gluten free community).
The cultural importance of bread has a significance beyond the mere importance as a food. For example, the Lord’s Prayer contains the line “Give us this day our daily bread,” which is commonly interpreted and understood to mean “necessities”, in general.
Today the word bread throughout the English speaking world is synonymous for money. The beatnik community in the 50’s used the term bread as a euphemism for money. In Cockney Rhyming Slang, bread means money and originates from the phrase “bread and honey.” Words such as “bread winner”, or the phrase “putting bread on the table” have little to do with the providing of bread, but the sustaining of one’s necessities in life. Likewise, the term “bread basket” is used to describe an agriculturally rich region. The very term bread has woven itself into the deeper fabric of our lives.
The sheer number of breads available today is staggering. The majority, if not all, are completely unacceptable to anyone with gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, since most of the world’s breads, with few exceptions, are made using gluten rich flours.
White bread, for example, is made from flour containing only the endosperm, whereas brown bread has only 10% bran added back to the white bread flour and the addition of a coloring agent (mostly caramel, another no-no for the gluten free population). Whole meal bread varieties contain the whole grain and is also called whole grain, or whole wheat bread. Roti, an unleavened bread, is also a wheat-based bread – chapattis being a larger version of roti. Naan is a leavened cousin of these two. Granary bread is made with malted wheat grains. Rye bread is made from whole grain rye (the milling process and resulting texture varies). It is much higher in fiber and has a stronger flavor. Quickbreads are leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda and include, pancakes, waffles, muffins, cakes, dessert breads, scones, etc.
The many cultures in our world have left their own indelible mark on the creation of breads. Keep in mind that this list is only representative of some countries and not to be considered all-conclusive. Please do not feel offended in any way, if your country was not mentioned. No ill feelings were intended, and we only wanted to point out the similarities present as well as the differences.
In Mexico, bread is called “pan.” Although corn tortillas are the traditional bread throughout most of Mexico, popular breads also include the bolillo roll and pan dulce, which is primarily eaten at breakfast.
The most commonly eaten pan varieties in Peruvian cuisine are the “pan de piso” and “pan serrano.” Many of the breads served are made with potatoes. Some doughs are prepared with cooked pumpkin, or squash, shaped and fried like doughnuts and served with a sweet fruity dipping sauce. Bizcochos are a sweet bread usually servd with butter and hot chocolate.
A Spanish region, located in the Zamora province, is called “Tierra del Pan,” which literally translates into Land of the Bread.
In countries such as India, Pakistan and the Middle Eastern countries, several types of unleavened flat breads called roti, chapatti, or naan form the mainstay of the peoples’ diet. Yet, white and brown breads are also becoming increasingly popular.
Lavash is a thin flatbread, and the most widely consumed bread in Iran, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Germany claims to have the largest variety of breads worldwide. There are 300-500 basic bread varieties and more than 1,000 of small bread rolls and pastries. At the 2005 Bread Show in Cologne, more than 1,000 different breads were represented. Worldwide, Germans takes the lead as being the biggest consumers of bread per capita.
Throughout the Scandinavian countries, four grain types have been dominant; barley and rye being the oldest, and wheat and oats being more recent. Up to the 20th Century, rye has been the most commonly used grain for bread.
Today, many of the older grain varieties such as emmer and spelt are being cultivated and new bread types are being developed as a result of using these grains.
Finland and Russia are both known for their dark sourdough breads made with rye (see image above). Finnish bread is disc-shaped with a hole in the center for easier storing.
Some families still have leaven handed down from one generation to the next.
Iceland, in the past, due to a very harsh climate, also incorporated dulse, Iceland Moss, or Irish Moss into their bread recipes, to help stretch the use of their available grains, which also mainly consisted of imported rye. Breads baked in the local hot springs are very popular today.
In both Britain and the United States of America, people are gradually welcoming and favoring the artisan breads over the more familiar wonder bread varieties. The San Francisco Bay Area is well-known for its sourdough bread. In the U.S., traditional breads also include cornbread, which can be made with just corn, but many times includes wheat flour, especially if the darker yellow corn meal is used.
Fry bread plays a significant role in Native American cultures and is often served at home and at gatherings like pow-wows and state fairs.
Sadly, it is also being implicated as playing a role in the skyrocketing increase of obesity and diabetes among Native Americans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that a plate of fried bread, on average, consists of 700 calories and a whopping 27 grams of fat. This bread is also known under the name “cachange” in South American cooking. In New Mexico, fry bread tacos are also known as “Navajo Tawi.”
Fry bread is also offered as a dessert version, served with honey, or powedered sugar and is somewhat similar to an elephant ear. It is also known as fried dough.
Everyone, of course, if familiar with the French baguettes, but a local pan bread is known as “pain de mie” (sandwich loaf) and is used for toast.
Italy has a rich history in bread making and has been largely responsible for spreading this art to the many territories that fell under the then Roman Empire. In fact, bread was often used as a form of currency. Bread rolls are more typically found in the North and larger loaves in the Southern region. Italian bread often contains olive oil, or butter. The traditional rustic breads include Stilatino Imbottito (stuffed bread roll) and Pizza Blanca (flat white bread). Foccaccia bread is becoming increasingly popular in many parts of the world. A sugared Pandoro is a classic Italian sweet bread.
Mantou is the name for the traditional Chinese bread and is like a steamed bun and considered a staple in the Northern parts of China where wheat, rather than rice, is cultivated.
Mantou, bing and wheat noodles form the staple carbohydrate of the Northern Chinese diet, in contradistinction to rice, which is the mainstay of the Southern Chinese cuisine.
So many of these examples and approaches to baking bring us to the basic and most important recipe development for bread. To a baker, the single most important measurement in the development of a recipe, is the amount of flour used in relation to the other ingredients. This is known as “Baker’s Percentage.” Ingredients are measured by weight instead of by volume, which is much more accurate and consistent than a measurement by volume, especially for the dry ingredients. Flour is always stated as 100% and the rest of the ingredients are a percent of that amount of weight. In the United States, common table bread uses approximately 50% water, whereas most artisan breads require 60-75% water. In yeast breads, the higher water percentages result in greater oxygen formation, and a courser crumb.
Wheat flour, in addition to its starch, contains three water soluble protein groups, albumin, globulin and proteases, and two non-water soluble protein groups (the real problem for all of us celiacs, or gluten intolerant people) glutenin and gliadin, to provide the shape and structure of the resulting dough. When kneading a traditional gluten dough, the glutenin forms strands of long thin, chain-like molecules, while the shorter gliadin form bridges between the strands of glutenin. This resulting network of interwoven strands, produced by the two proteins, is known as gluten.
In the case of sourdough breads, the familiar sour taste comes from lactobacillus. The yeast lives in symbiosis with the lactobacillus and this, in turn, feeds on the by-products of the yeast fermentation, and makes the culture go sour by excreting lactic acid, which, in turn, also protects it from spoiling.
Strains of yeast have since been selected and developed mainly for their consistent reliability and predictability. This is what is commonly known as baker’s yeast.
A traditional sourdough starter is a culture of yeast and lactobacilli, and resembles a dough-like, or pancake-like flour/water mixture, in which the yeast and lactobacilli live and flourish. A successful starter can be used indefinitely by using a part of it and refreshing it with the addition of fresh flour and water. If you refrigerate a starter, it can live for weeks without needing to be fed. Some families and bakeries have starter cultures that are several generations old. Check out these images of the traditional way of making bread. (Scroll halfway down the page).
For further information,check out these links to several videos on the History of Bread: History of Bread(1), History of Bread(2), History of Bread (3), History of Bread(4), History of Bread(5), and History of Bread(6).
At last, this concludes our overview of the History of Bread and leads us to the coveted recipe for Gluten Free Bread with Seeds. This recipe is an adaptation of our French bread recipe for a bread maker, which is in our book “A Celebration of Gluten Free Baking.”
You will need the following ingredients, all of which need to be at room temperature:
- 2-1/2 cups brown rice flour
- 1/3 cup sweet rice flour
- 1/3 cup tapioca flour
- 2/3 cups non-instant dry milk powder
- 3 Tbsp. rice bran
- 2 Tbsp. raw sunflower seeds
- 2 Tbsp. golden flax seeds
- 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- 1-1/2 tsp. guar gum
- 1 tsp. Himalaya salt
- 1 tsp. honey
- 1-3/4 cups warm water
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 large eggs
- Extra seeds for topping off the bread (2 tsp. sunflower seeds, 1 tsp. flax seeds and 1 tsp. sesame seeds)
1. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl (except for the yeast) and set aside.
2. Dissolve yeast in the warm water together with the honey. Let the yeast proof for a few minutes.
3. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the prepared yeast mixture, eggs, oil and vinegar.
4. Using a handmixer, combine all ingredients at low speed, then continue to blend well for about 2 minutes, at a medium setting.
5. Grease a 1-1/2 pound loaf pan with butter. Add the dough mixture (this dough will be batter-like in texture). Smooth the top and lightly sprinkle the top with 1 tsp. flaxseeds, 1 tsp. sesame seeds, and 2 tsp. sunflower seeds.
6. Lightly grease a large enough piece of plastic wrap to cover the loaf pan.
7. Place the loaf in a warm and draft free place and let rise for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, or until the dough rises just above the top of the pan.
8. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
9. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the bread for about 55 minutes.
10. Remove the bread from the oven, turn out onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
This bread will have developed a light crust all around and can be sliced (once completely cooled) easily for sandwiches, or toast.
We look forward to your feedback. Feel free and share with us your experience with this recipe. :-)