I haven’t been eating a lot of bread lately, with my blood sugar in mind, but sometimes I just can’t resist. I was thinking of making cornbread to go with the beany stew I made today, but didn’t make it out to buy more suitable cornmeal. What I did have on hand: some very fine Natco stuff, intended for making makki ki roti (very similar to tortillas, but Punjabi). It’s about the same texture as masa harina, which I bet would, if anything, taste even better in here.
So, I decided to make a dough similar to angel biscuits, but just patted out into one big flat loaf. My family calls that “cake” when done with biscuit dough, but I have no idea what anybody else calls it, other than maybe “one huge biscuit”. 🙂 Bannock, maybe? It’s basically like big, flat soda bread. The yeasty flavor in this is a nice variation.
Looking at the ingredients laid out, I’m reminded: here in the UK (slightly east of East London proper), I have been buying most of my gluten free flours from the “world foods” section, mostly from brands aimed at South Asian customers. Those tend to be cheap, readily available, and unlikely to have been sitting on the shelf forever. (Plus, it’s hard to pass up bags with funky stylized elephants on them.) Given the large South Asian customer base, our local Sainsbury’s and Tesco carry a reasonable selection between them; for other flours, I head to a South Asian supermarket in Ilford. You might want to check out an Indian grocery for flours, if there are any near you; otherwise, it might be worth ordering online.
- 1 c. (250mL) very fine cornmeal or masa harina
- 1/2 c. (125mL) chickpea / gram flour
- 1.5 c. (375mL) sorghum / juwar flour
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 2 tsp. xanthan gum
Stir all the dry stuff together in a large bowl.
In a cup, mix a couple teaspoons of sugar into about 1/3 c. (80mL) of warm water. (Not hot enough to burn you, or it will kill the yeast.) Stir in the yeast packet to let it sit and proof.
Melt about 3 tbsp. of butter; I imagine coconut oil would work well, instead. Since I had the slow cooker going anyway, I just put the butter in a little bowl on top.
- A cup (250mL) of buttermilk or plain yogurt
- Your cup of new yeast colony
- An egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp. of the melted butter
- Enough lukewarm water to give the dough a consistency like slightly sticky biscuit dough
Stir the liquids into the dry ingredient mixture. A sturdy wooden spoon is perfect. Gradually add more water as required; you want the dough to pull away from the bowl when you stir it, but still moist enough that it will stick to your hands a bit. Stir for a couple of minutes to make sure the xanthan gum is well distributed and activated by the liquids. The dough will get a glossy look. It will be a little puffy-looking from the soda and acidic dairy reaction; try not to over-stir it, or that extra CO2 will escape.
I would prefer to use buttermilk, but the yogurt works as well. People just don’t drink buttermilk here. So, it’s only available in little cups like cream, intended for cooking (if you can find that), and I balk at the idea of buying them more than occasionally. I should probably start making my own again, now that I’m back on dairy!
Use part of the remaining melted butter to grease a baking sheet. (You want to save some to brush on top.)
I used to flour my hands before handling gluten-free dough, like with wheat flour doughs, but I’ve found that it actually works better to get them damp with cold water under the faucet, very much like when handling hot water corn dough for pone or dumplings. The xanthan gum in the dough will be slippery in contact with the extra water. For this, you don’t want your hands absolutely dripping enough to leave much water on the bread dough, just damp enough that the dough doesn’t stick.
Take the dough out of the bowl, and form it into a ball with your damp hands. Place it on the greased baking sheet, and pat it out to about half the thickness you want the bread to be. Mine ended up about 3/4 of an inch thick.
Brush the top with the remaining melted butter, and cover it up with plastic wrap. Set it in a warmish place without drafts for an hour or two, until it’s about doubled.
Preheat the oven to 375F / 190C, and let it bake for about 15 minutes before checking it. Cooking times will vary rather a lot based on thickness and other factors. This took about 20 minutes.
Let it cool for a few minutes, then tear pieces off. OK, you could cut it, but it’s just not the same. Mr. Sweden and I have had discussions about this with similar flattish breads. 😉
This bread experiment turned out so delicious, I’m tempted to make another batch soon, with some sunflower seeds added to the dough and sesame on top.