Category Archives: Sorghum

Good gluten-free bread machine results

(As usual, you can click through for a larger version of any photo.)

I was reminded again today, baking another loaf of bread, that I hadn’t yet gotten this posted. I’m still having problems with the osteomalacia, and have been running into some symptoms of the vitamin D deficiency (and hypocalcemia) again this winter in spite of supplementation, including the low energy and fatigue. So I haven’t been able to post as much lately as I’d like. There are a lot of step-by-step recipe photos waiting for writeups. *wry smile*

But, it took me a while to figure out a consistently good bread machine recipe and techniques for basic sandwich-type bread, and I thought I should share what’s been working well here.

I lost the first recipe I was getting consistently good results from, and haven’t been able to find it again online. But, I was glad to try this one: Finally, Really Good Sandwich Bread: Our Favorite Gluten Free Bread Recipe, from Gluten Free Cooking School.

That looks to be a good basic recipe (with no dairy, and the option of egg replacement), but of course I had to fiddle with it. 😉 Here’s the version I’ve been using:

  • 1.5 packages of fast-acting yeast, or roughly 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 0.5 c./about 125mL water a bit over body temperature. As long as it’s not hot enough to burn your skin, it’s OK.

Mix that up in a coffee mug, and set it aside for the yeast to proof while you get everything else ready.

In another bowl (I just use a handy British pint measuring cup), mix the dry ingredients together:

  • 2.5 cups/British pint/roughly 600mL flour blend (I’ve been using roughly a third each of chickpea flour/besan, brown rice or sorghum flour, and finely ground white rice flour)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste, since this makes a fairly hefty loaf and I like salt 😉

In the bread machine loaf pan, combine:

  • 2-3 lightly beaten eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 c./250mL kefir, buttermilk, or yogurt warmed to about body temperature (a good use for any that’s gone very sour!)
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter

By this time, the yeast should be threatening to foam out of the cup, and we’re ready to go. 🙂

As with most baking, the behavior here will vary depending on your ingredients, the weather, and especially your particular bread machine. But, this is what works best with mine: a circa 2004-vintage Kenwood model, which helpfully came with a GF cycle I didn’t even know I needed then! If yours doesn’t have that, the cake setting is supposed to work pretty well. A GF dough doesn’t want more than one rising period, so the regular bread cycles don’t work as well.

I didn’t think to get photos before everything was mixed up in the pan, either when I took these photos or today.

But, add the proofed yeast into the pan with the other liquid ingredients. I have found that it works best to start the cycle before beginning to add the dry ingredients gradually and carefully, so it doesn’t throw flour all over the place. Especially with the xanthan gum in there, it tends to glump up and need more stirring to mix up properly if you just dump all the flour in there before turning the machine on.

It still takes more attention during the mixing and kneading stage than a wheat flour bread would, because the dough needs to be wetter and doesn’t move around the pan as freely. A rubber spatula is your friend, with a table knife to scrape the sticky dough off it back into the pan. 🙂 You’ll need to scrape the sides of the pan down, and make sure it all gets properly mixed. I usually fold the dough over with a spatula a few times later on during the mixing/kneading process, just to make sure it’s uniform.

The dough consistency should be kind of like a thick br0wnie batter starting out; it also takes a while for rice and bean flours to absorb liquid, so hold off on adjusting the consistency for at least five minutes after it’s thoroughly mixed up.

It’s hard to get decent photos inside a working bread machine, so this is what we end up with instead. 😉

Dough near the end of the kneading time. This loaf still turned out a little moist and dense, but that’s better than dry and sandy end results!

At the end of the kneading cycle. As you can see, it tends to get a big air bubble around the paddle, at the bottom of the pan. I’m knocking that out with the spatula, and about to smooth the top of the loaf.

As smooth as it’s going to get! It’s hard to get all the gooey dough scraped down off the sides, but that’s good enough.

Even starting out with warm liquid ingredients, the rising time on my machine is still not long enough. I usually have to switch the machine off and let it sit for an extra hour or so, then use the “bake only” cycle.

I was afraid this would collapse if I let it go much longer. You can see how the top is starting to crack, with bubbles visible. That’s a better indication that it’s risen enough than the common “doubled in the pan” standard, in my experience.

And, finally, a finished loaf of bread! This one did turn out a bit denser than I’d wanted, from slightly too-moist dough, but it was still delicious.

Carefully pulling the very hot paddle out of the bottom of the very hot bread with a chopstick! It tends to stick.

This basic dough has also worked well for pizza crust, BTW. You can make the dough a bit stiffer, but this still won’t roll out well. Best just to plonk it onto a well-oiled pan with a good sprinkling of corn meal, and spread it out with your hands. Smoothing it down with slightly wet hands works better for a xanthan gum dough than flouring it for ease of handling, IME.

Corny Gluten-Free Angel Bread

A piece of flattish bread, with a pat of butter beside it on the plate.

Yum.

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.

Baking ingredients, including flours, butter, xanthan gum, and yogurt

Ingredients

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.

Dry mixture:

  • 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.

Dry ingredients in a bowl

I like the texture and color contrasts before it's mixed up. 🙂

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.

A mug with yeast trying to foam out of the top

Very healthy yeast; after about five minutes, it tried to escape the cup!

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.

Melting butter in a small bowl, on top of a slow cooker lid

May as well take advantage of the heat!

Wet ingredients:

  • 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!

Bread dough in a bowl

It's hard to describe dough textures, but this might help give some idea.

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.

Bread dough patted out on a baking sheet

Finger marks add character. 😉

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.

Oblong of bread dough ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

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.

Bread just out of the oven

Just out of the oven. It looked better in person.

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.