Sunday, May 1, 2011

My first loaf of bread- ever. And it's gluten free.

A favorite childhood memory is breakfast at Grandma Phoebe's house. She'd cut a sinfully thick slice of her homemade rye bread, toast it perfectly, and slather it with butter. It was heaven.

I have her recipe, but I never baked a loaf. I've never baked a loaf of bread that wasn't a quick bread. I've always wanted to, but I never did. My grandma would spend full days baking bread and rolls. I've been there, I've helped her, I've watched the entire process, but I just never had the courage to try it myself. I'm not afraid of all baking. Cookies? No problem. I'll bust out biscotti and complicated cookies at Christmas time that get rave reviews. But bread? That's a whole new ball game. And I won't even comment here on cake.

After a couple weeks of eating gluten free frozen bread products void of protein and fiber, I had a realization. The reason I never baked before was because the Universe had plans. I needed to wait to learn to bake until now. I had to learn how to bake in a totally different way than Grandma. I had to learn to bake gluten free because this is now my path. And so began endless amounts of reading and learning about different flour combinations and starches... which ones were highest in protein, which were highest in fiber, and how to use those in proportion to the starches and flours that don't offer as much on the nutrition end, but are needed to create a tasty end product.

I happened upon Karina's Kitchen. I learned a lot on her blog not just about gluten free baking, but about gluten free living. Unless you just came out from under a rock, if you have any food sensitivities at all, I am sure you know exactly who she is. I spent a lot of time just browsing her recipes and her thoughts and learning from her immense experience. I loved that she had some of the same feelings I had about flours. She most often uses sorghum, millet, almond, and buckwheat- and those were all high on my list and in my pantry waiting for me.

Suddenly, my computer lit up and fireworks began to explode. Karina had a recipe for Ryeless Rye bread. REALLY? I could possibly taste something like the heaven Grandma used to make for me? This could happen? Reading the recipe only made me more excited. She used sorghum and millet, which would make this bread much healthier than the loaf currently in my freezer, and the caraway seeds were practically calling my name.

When we went to Penzey's this weekend, I went straight for the caraway seeds and inhaled the sample jar deeply. I just didn't want to be disappointed. I mean, really, I have never baked bread before and now I suddenly think I'm going to pull off a gluten free loaf? I talked myself down off the ledge. If it sucked, I'd chuck it. I'd try again. I'd get it right. Unless I wanted to depend on store brand nutritionally challenged gluten free bread forever, I'd have to.

Here is the link to Karina's Ryeless Rye Bread.

For now, I hid within the safety of following her recipe almost to the T. I did use 2 eggs versus the egg replacer. I didn't use sesame seeds on top, but instead more caraway like Grandma did. At the moment I was sprinkling the caraway seeds on top, I felt her presence as I often do when I'm in the kitchen. I was once again reminded how much I love that cooking keeps me so close to my family who I miss so much.

My bread took about 40 minutes to bake. It was golden on top and fell right out of the baking pan. I devoured the end slice immediately. I slathered on some Earth Balance and dug in. Scott was napping on the couch and I thought my smile might wake him up. It was so yummy. It was as close as I could have ever hoped. I went right back for a second slice, which I popped in the toaster. When it was ready it woke Scott up. I was happy to share and to see him join in my excitement upon his first bite. I'd done it! I baked bread and it was good!

I'm excited to move forward. I want to explore bread. I want to decide on the combination I like best and that I feel is most healthy for me. I want to make baguette and pizza crusts... breakfasts breads and dinner rolls... I want to make biscotti nearly as good as I always have with wheat flour and maybe even a cake one day... Today was a great start and I am crazy excited to keep going.

Becoming gluten free is going to allow me to learn so much. I don't for one second want to feel sorry for myself or be depressed because I can't have something. I want to make anything I used to eat. And I want it to be as close to, or even better, than I ever remember it being.


  1. KB, I am glad you're baking bread that tastes good. Wish I could get into it more often, but I usually stop at flatbreads and pizza crusts. It's truly a skill and takes some doing, just like anything of value, I suppose.

    I do enjoy that end hunk of a freshly baked loaf. My gram called it the heel. I call it the baker's treat.

  2. Baker's Treat- I love that! My family always called it the heel too- but, I also prefer Baker's Treat- if you bake the bread, it definitely should be your reward!