Friday, December 26, 2008

Italian Daily Bread

Picky, picky, picky. That’s what my glutinoids are. Although I don’t eat a lot of bread myself, my family does. After about the forth time I was glutened by their snacks, I banned their bread (and their toaster) from the house. They were as nice about it as they could be. My mother-in-law hinted that perhaps, I was being unfair. Our smallest child requested toast, everyday, and scowled at my gluten-free options. The older kids are well versed on the finer points of which gluten-free waffles are edible.

Anyhow, it was time to try baking bread again.

I have been amazingly happy with my Carol Fenster book , and I started there. Cuban Bread had been a pre-gluten free favorite at my house. I spotted a French Bread recipe in Carol’s book, that like my old Cuban Bread recipe, used 2 tablespoons of yeast, and skipped the rise time. Instead of rising on the counter, it went into a cold oven. We loved this because the bread was ready, start to finish, in less than hour. My first try came out of the oven, looking like a bread superstar- crusty, brown, and seductive, in a bread sort of way.

My family dubbed it the Xanthan Gum special.

I think Xanthan Gum is an acquired taste. We have not acquired a taste for it.

After a little chef reworking, it passed muster with the gang, and even made a debut on Christmas Eve- with a few, “This is gluten-free?” comments.

Like all European-style and gluten free breads, this is best eaten the day it is made. If keeping it longer, wrap it tightly and refrigerate or freeze it.

This recipe uses a traditional method of misting the crust with steam to create a crunchy-crust. I use a 99-cent water bottle from the health and beauty section at the grocery store. Anything food grade that will create a fine spray works fine.

Italian Daily Bread
The final recipe turned out to be a combination of Carol’s recipe, and an Italian loaf that I used to make. If you mix up your dry ingredients the night before, this really can be a recipe that you have in the oven before breakfast.

There are several variations on “rustic” loaf pans. I have an open-ended pan for two loaves that is shaped like a “W” if you look at it from the side. It is made out of aluminum and cost less than $20 at a chef’s outlet store.

Makes 2 loaves- about 20 servings

Active dry yeast- 2 tablespoons
Sugar- 2 tablespoons, divided use
Warm water about 110* F- 1 cup
Egg whites or egg white liquid- ½ cup
Potato Starch- 1 ½ cups
Corn Starch ½ cup (if you are sensitive to corn, just use the potato starch)
 Chebe Flour Blend or your favorite GF flour blend-1 cup (preferably on with Tapioca flour in it)if it has xanthan gum, be sure to omit it from the recipe.
Guar Gum ½ teaspoon
Xanthan gum ½ teaspoon
Baking Powder ½ teaspoon
Salt- 1 ¼ teaspoon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil- ¼ cup
Rice or cider vinegar- 2 teaspoons
Flourless pan spray
Water bottle to mist

Dissolve yeast and one teaspoon of sugar in the water, set aside

Spray the bread pan or line with parchment paper

Sift together all of the remaining dry ingredients

Combine egg whites, yeast water, olive oil and sifted dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer on low for about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl, add vinegar and mix for another 30 seconds on medium.

Working with a rubber spatula dipped in a glass of water, divide dough in half onto each side of the bread pan. Shape the loaves into identical “logs” about 8-9 inches long. Keep the spatula wet as you do this. Square off the ends of the loaves. Make three shallow slashes in the top of the loaves, at an angle. Spray the top of the bread with the pan spray.

Place on the center rack of the oven. Turn the oven on to 425* F and set the timer for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, open the door of the oven slightly, reach in and spray the top of the loaves several times with your water bottle. Close the oven up and set the time for an additional 20 minutes. If you want to repeat the spray 2-3 times, it will make your crust a little crunchier.

After the 20 minutes are up, use an instant read thermometer and check for an internal temperature of 205*. Cool completely before slicing, and wrap tightly once it is cool.

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