Friday, November 23, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge! Potato Bread











Now I'm not big into making bread since I went gluten free - we get the odd packet of gluten free pitta breads for Fin's lunch but otherwise, I guess we just do without. See most gluten free breads upset your blood sugar balance because they use starches that are high on the glycaemic index - meaning they charge into your blood stream unhindered and your body has to release a load of insulin to get it out and then your poor old liver has a big old clean up and conversion job to do - not to mention your tired old pancreas, akk! It makes me sleepy just thinking about it...

But I have been watching the Daring Bakers for a while now and loving the community aspect of it and the standards which they aim for. And you know I love to bake. However, I thought to myself - I can't really join a traditional baking group who use the old dreaded gluten and insist on all using the same recipe, can I? Well you know what? It turns out I can, and they welcomed me with their lovely warm bakers arms into the fold, to make those recipe challenges gluten free. Woo Hoo!

So this month's secret challenge was to make Tender Potato Bread using a recipe from, Home Baking: The Artful Mix of Flour & Tradition Around the World (yeah, they weren't down with snappy titles) written by Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid.

Our gracious host was Tanna from My Kitchen in Half Cups.

Well I had been reading Shauna James Ahearn's book Gluten Free Girl and really wanted to try substituting sorghum flour for part of the flour total as that's what she uses in her breads. However, this flour was elusive and the deadline was looming near. So I reached down my recently discovered chestnut flour, got the hemp flour out of the freezer (in there to keep it fresh as it is high in protein and precious oils) and decided that I would use these with some brown rice flour to make the bread. The chestnut and rice provided the white flour element and the hemp flour , the wholemeal element.

I got some fresh yeast from our local award winning bakery (the one I usually pass right by whilst trying not to inhale), it was creamy coloured and fudge textured with a wonderful mushroom smell. The last time I had yeast in my hands was y-e-a-r-s ago!

I asked the grocers which potatoes were the floury ones and he led me to a paper sack full of proper mud covered local spuds, telling me the variety name, which I blushingly admit to forgetting by the time I got home with my loot. They were floury though - so thanks for that.

So I got down to the recipe early in the evening as I was preparing Fin's supper. Boiled the spuds, mashed them up, added yeast and flour, butter, salt and xanthan gum (to mimic the gluten) and put the oddly greenish grey dough up to prove for 2 hours. I don't think the other Daring Bakers will have experienced the green dough - it came from that hemp flour.

Fin had his supper, we played a bit and then off to bed with Daddy for some Harry Potter. I settled down with some hand sewing and comforting TV. Two hours came and went and it was almost three hours by the time I realised that there was bread proving in the kitchen. I rushed in and saw that the cling film over the top of the bowl was puffed up with gas from the yeast. So why did I run to the bowl, tear the cling film off and stick my nose in to take a good sniff?

I won't make that mistake again, because the gas from the yeast rushed up my nose excruciatingly, causing me to reel back from the bowl and clutch my burning septum like a drunken brawler. That dough slapped me in the face!

Thankful that nobody had witnessed such a foolish event, I punched the dough back down to get rid of some of that gas (already fearing that the loaves would be sour and flat) and formed the loaves as instructed. They rose up again and looked pretty respectable as they went in the oven to bake. After 50 minutes I took then out of the oven and they looked and sounded, well, just like bread! What with all the mixing and proving and reading the five pages of recipe instructions and being punished by the yeast, it was now well past my bed time - so I took some photos and left tasting the bread till the morning.

The next morning I sliced the bread and it had a real crust, although the inside was a little moist. I think it should only have had one proving - being shaped into a loaf straight away, as there is no need to develop the non existent gluten. That said, we all sat down to some potato bread toast for breakfast and Fin's face said it all. 'My God!' he exclaimed, as though having a religious experience, 'This bread is fantastic! You can't even tell it's gluten free', as he licked honey and butter off his wrist. Nick proclaimed it the best gluten free bread he had tasted so far and I was just busy, chewing the savoury crust and thinking about what I would do different next time. 

Oh yes! and licking butter and honey off my wrist.

I will post my version of this recipe when I've given it a few more tweaks. If you want to check out any of the other Daring Bakers just click this link for the Blogroll.