Clara Gluten Free

Regular Bread

So I've been doing lots of bread baking. Like as in lots of lots (as in daily), because we have a bread machine from several years ago, with a gluten-free cycle (who knew?), and because we like bread and because I like to bake it. Once upon a time, in the pre-GF days, I was quite the bread baker (as in 3 loaves of sourdough a week, for a few months there), though for some inexplicable reason, everyone's stomach hurt after... I wonder why... that moment of bit of bitterness aside, it's pretty fantastic to back baking bread (and alliterating...). I've been working on developing a recipe, having practiced with a bunch of mixes and started my from-scratch experimentation with this fantastic recipe.  And, after several loaves later, I made a recipe that's pretty super-duper-amazing, if I do say so myself

I use a whole bunch of flours to make this bread work. What's so lovely about gluten flour in baking- especially pastry and bread-baking- is it's the protein structure. Gluten is both strong and elastic, which is why it works so well for bread. As yeast metabolizes sugar, it gives off carbon dioxide, which makes the bread rise and form those bubbles in the dough, and ethanol (regular old alcohol), which makes the bread taste the way it does. As you bake the bread, the alcohol bakes off and the yeast dies, which makes it stop giving off carbon dioxide. At this point, you need a strong protein structure to keep the bread from collapsing. When you need gluten dough, you force the gluten proteins to line up to make this matrix. When you don't have get inventive. 

For this bread, I use 3 eggs because the white is a binder protein (albumen) quite similar to gluten, actually, and the yolk works like an emulsifier (which sort of makes mixtures stay together). As for flours, I used brown rice to bulk up the dough without tasting weird (but not too much because brown rice flour on its own is amazingly crumbly), tapioca to lighten the dough so that the bubbly texture stays, cornstarch to hold moisture, and then garfava flour to add a bit more protein and cornmeal for texture and to cover up the flavor of the garfava flour. Oh, blue cornmeal so the bread doesn't turn day-glow yellow. Also, I have a few variations on the dough to suggest. Partly because I like to experiment, and mostly because after the 5th or 6th loaf, I ran out of tapioca flour. Kitchen-drama. 

Bread- 1 2-lb loaf
*Note: A gluten-free cycle is pretty important to use, because it only has one warm, 1-hr rise. Since there are a bunch of eggs, it is, um, inadvisable to let your eggs sit out for 2-3 hrs at 115 F warming up and growing bacteria. If your bread-maker does not have a gluten-free cycle, then you can probably substitute with a quick bread cycle or anything with a single short rise, but be sure to check your bread-maker's manual first. 

1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup brown sugar or brown rice syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil or canola oil
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1/2 cup corn or tapioca starch
1 cup tapioca flour 
1/2 cup garfava flour
1/2 cup cornmeal (blue or white)
1 1/2 tbs yeast
4 tsp xantum gum
2 tsp salt

1- Mix together the warm water, sugar and oil until homogeneous. Pour into the bread-maker pan. Add the three eggs.

2- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients and pour into the pan. Set the bread-maker on a gluten-free cycle, for 2 lbs, medium crust.

*Note: these all affect texture, mostly by getting rid of the little bubbly texture of the bread. But they are yummy...

- sub out the tapioca flour for 1 cup masa harina, increase the water by 1/4 cup (or so). Makes the bread taste like cornbread.
- sub out the tapioca flour for 1/2 cup corn or tapioca starch and 1 cup white rice flour.
- sub out the tapioca flour for 1 cup quinoa flour, increase the water by 1/4 cup (or so). Makes the bread super-filling and taste a bit like quinoa.
- Regular granulated sugar will work for the brown sugar/brown rice syrup.
-I have not tried molasses, corn syrup or agave syrup for the sweetener, but I expect these can work.
- As for oils- most oils will work, though you will taste them. Olive oil and melted butter can both be good, but anything you like will do well.

- I have been increasing the oil a bit (1-2 tbs more), and that has been making the loaf much richer and softer. Also, I have been adding about 1/2 a tbs of the sweetener, because it makes the yeast work harder.
- Corn syrup! It makes fluffy white, sandwich bread! (I think because it dissolves really well and so blends into the dough better)

Tomato Mozzarella Tart

Howdy again! It's been a while, but I'm back again. In the interim, I have been experimenting with developing a bread machine bread (which is fun), ice-cream making (which is more fun) and blow-torching (which is super-amazing-awesome-cool fun). So, I could blame my break on doing more cooking than blogging + doing more homework than cooking, or I could blame my break on having torched everything in sight, including my computer, but unfortunately, nothing is quite that cinematic around here. Or perhaps fortunately.

Anyway, I have been cooking, and I have been making recipes. Just to prove it, I made a tomato-mozzarella tart today (which of course includes basil because all things tomato and mozzarella should/do). And I torched the top. And then covered it in chopped basil. And then torched it again. 

I read up on how to do these here (sorry, login required) and here , but one of those irritating facts of GF life, is that there is no way to buy GF phyllo dough and I have not found/figured out a way to do it on my own (though if you happen to know the answer to either one of these questions, I would be very, very muchly grateful to know). So I used a regular old pie pastry, but I gave it an extra turn like the way you make puff pastry. For puff pastry (and phyllo dough, but to a much greater extent) you layer butter and dough by folding the pastry on itself and then rolling it out. Done properly, this ends up with layers of dough and layers butter, so that when it is baked, the butter melts out and the steam from the water in it evaporating makes the dough puff up. Done improperly, you get a really rich bready texture that's rich in an I'm-eating-lots-of-butter sort of way.

The main issue with the tomato basil tart filling is how to keep it from being tomato basil juice filling. I handled that a couple in a couple of different steps. First, an egg wash, which is basically the sealant of the pastry making world.Then, a layer of melted Parmesan to repel the water from the tomatoes away from the bottom of the crust so it doesn't soak in there (I got that straight from that Cooks Illustrated recipe, so thank you Test Kitchen people!!). As for the tomatoes, I salted them (to draw out the water, via osmosis), and then pressed them like tofu, to push more water out. Finally, I made sure my mozzarella was dry to the touch (I know, shocker there). 

Tomato-Basil Tart - 1 9" tart

1 prebaked pastry shell
4 medium tomatoes
12 oz fresh mozzarella
3 tbs diced fresh basil
3-5 oz grated Parmesan

1- Prepare your pastry shell, according to whatever recipe you prefer. Of course, I suggest my recipe, with one change: when rolling out the dough, first roll it to a rectangle shape (about 12 " x 18"). Then, fold in thirds the long way (like an envelope), then fold that into thirds again (you should have a small, narrow nearly square lump). Flatten it and roll out into the size circle you need for the pie shell.

2- Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes into 1/4" slices. Take a plate or cutting board and line with paper towels. Salt the paper towels, layer on the tomatoes and lightly salt those. Cover with a layer of paper towels and repeat until you are out of tomatoes. Cover with another cutting board (or similarly flat object) and place something about 5 lbs heavy onto the cutting board. Let dry for 30 min or more.

3- Grate the parmesan, cover the bottom of the pie shell and bake in 400 F oven until lightly brown and slightly bubbly, about 10 min. Slice the mozzarella into 1/4 slices and then rip into chunks. Remove the pie shell from the oven.

4- Layer mozzarella and tomatoes randomly throughout the shell. When half way filled, add some basil and any Parmesan you would like. Continue to layer tomatoes and mozzarella until you are out of materials. Return the tart to the oven, bake until cheese is melty, about 20 min.

5- Remove from oven and blowtorch until the cheese is brown (you can broil for a few minutes instead, if necessary). Sprinkle the basil on the top, and lightly dryout/crisp with the torch. Allow to set 5 minutes and serve warm.