Thursday, 1 August 2013

Look Ma' - no wheat

I've scoured the health food section of the big name grocery stores looking for a grain-free sandwich bread (not made with rice, quinoa, or chickpea flour) and have come up as short as pita (unleavened bread joke - forgive me?)

I looked in the frozen healthy aisle, the refrigerated healthy aisle, and the dry-food healthy aisle. I was screamed at by the beige, yellow, and brown coloured labels spelling out "Gluten-Free" that lured me in if only to read their ingredients' list. Nothing suited what I was looking for.

What's that old adage? Don't make a mountain out of a mole hill? No, that's not it.

If you want something done right, do it yourself.

So I relocated Danielle Walker's recipe for Paleo Sandwich Bread that I had seen (and again, printed umpteenth times, losing and relosing the hard copies to the dismay of Mother Nature and my more hippie-dippy side) while roaming the food-blogger world.

My first thought when looking at this recipe:
There is no WAY that I can make a loaf of bread out of cashew butter and only 1/4 cup of "flour". 

But I tried anyway because I was desperate for something that I could replace bread with in making egg sandwiches, or PB&J (almond butter w/ smooshed strawberries) and that would be as portable and handy - something as great as, well, sliced bread.

I needed:
1 cup smooth raw cashew butter (I went to Bulk Barn, they have two sizes of containers that you can fill up with butters/broths/all-that-fun-stuff, normally at the back of the store. If you use the smaller one, it is basically the exact amount you will need)
- 4 large eggs, separated (this means the yellow from the white...)
- 1/2 to 2 tbsp of honey (more honey if you want sweeter bread - I omitted honey here, I figure if I want to use it for something like French toast as Danielle suggests, I can add honey as a topping later)
- 2.5 TEASPOONS apple cider vinegar (cap-locked because every time I read it, I want to use tablespoons. Also found this at Bulk Barn)
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (about 8 cranks on the grinder)

JUST realized that I've been cooking mine on too high a temperature - at 350 rather than 300. But it always turns out fine so it must be ok? Will have to see if there is a major difference next time when I bake it at 300.

Anyway, preheat your oven to 300. You need a glass bread loaf pan. I only had a metal one the first time so I ended up using a rectangular pyrex dish. This worked fine, but you don't really get that nice loaf shape because it's wider and lower. More like banana bread. This time I borrowed one from my mom and it definitely yielded something a lot more similar to bread. 

If you want your loaf to be white on the inside, put a dish of water on the bottom rack. I haven't tried this yet myself, it sounds like magic to me.

Cut out a piece of wax paper that will cover the bottom of the pan and then lightly grease the sides with coconut oil (I dab a paper towel in the oil and wipe the sides). Once all this is done, you can start mixing.

Mix the cashew butter and egg yolks in a bowl, keeping the whites on the side for later.

Then add the 1/4 cup almond milk, honey if you are using it, and 2.5 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and keep mixing.

consistency of eggs, cashew butter, vinegar, and almond milk

Once that's combined, mix your dry ingredients together. Then, start beating your egg whites until they form nice peaks. Danielle used an electric mixer - I have not yet moved my electric mixer (I know I've been moved in for four months - don't judge me) so I used a fork:

Ya I those aren't mine. I suck at peaking egg whites. Ready to see what mine looked like?

don't. you. dare. laugh.

If you want to learn how to properly form stiff peaks (THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID), you can go to TLC's tutorial. Maybe one day I will be able to form stiff peaks, but not when I'm rushing to get to soccer and finish this in time so it can also be my dinner. I still managed to make some semblance of "bread" as you will see, so it can't be that bad!?

Make sure your oven is preheated BEFORE you add everything together. There is some weird sort of science aspect to this between the acidity of the vinegar and the base of the baking soda. Again, don't really have the time or full interest (I'd say I'm about 67% interested) to see how and why. If you want to, I think it will be explained on the WheatBelly blog. PS - is the computerized girl on the website's banner not the happiest skinny chick in a bikini you've ever seen?

Add the dry ingredients first, and then once they are incorporated, add the egg whites. You don't need to be super gentle, but you don't want your peaks to lose there form (no issues if you never had peaks).

consistency of everything mixed together

Once it's in the pan, put it in the oven immediately and bake for 45-50 minutes. DO NOT open the oven door before 40 minutes have passed (Pandora's box scenario) or the steam will escape and the bread will not rise.

Mine came out at 40 minutes:

not bad for such weak peaks, eh?

yep, check it out from every angle.

After 10-15 minutes, run a knife around the edges and flip out onto a cooling rack. The parchment paper will come off very easily. Leave it upside down to cool

Once it's cooled for 40 minutes, begin to have your fun. Yes, bread can be very fun if it is something you haven't been letting yourself eat for the past seven months.

topped with almond butter, honey, and berries. oh my, is that homemade almond milk in the background?

raspberry bite

blackberry bite
And now to have even MORE fun (did you think that was even possible!?) - trying it out for it's grilling potential. I lightly coated my pan with coconut oil and left it for about two minutes on each side at medium heat.

Because, by this point, I'd already had three slices and was getting really full, I opted for a half-sized grilled almond butter sandwich rather than a whole one.

my, doesn't that look delicious?

well it was.

very delicious (and topped with honey).

When you're done eating, wrap the bread up tightly (I use aluminum foil and then put it in a ziploc baggy) and refrigerate. Try to use it all within a week. I keep half in the fridge and half in the freezer.

On my to do list concerning this recipe and the next time I use it:
- put dish of water in the oven to see if the magic truly is real
- cook on proper temperature
- make french toast

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