If you're following me on Instagram, you'll be familiar with my recent quest to perfect gluten free soda bread. This is by no means a straightforward feat. Part of the reason wheat flour is so nice to bake with is, ugh, the gluten. The protein/carb ratio of wheat is pretty dreamy for creating lift and lightness, even in the denser medium of soda bread. So creating a gluten free version involves many (pleasurable) attempts to get the balance of texture and flavour right. I have fond memories of this recipe from 101 cookbooks, from yonder days when I was still eating gluten, and used it as my base.
So dear ones, this is my offering. Millet meal and chickpea flours are my secret weapons here. Millet meal gives a certain toothsome-ness to the bread, which I really crave (gluten free bread often feels like you're eating powdery sawdust). Chickpea flour, sometimes called besan or gram flour, brings a necessary heft of protein and also binding power to the dough. Seeds add crunch and flavour (fennel seeds in bread is one of my favourite things, but if you're not into them, totally fine to leave them out).
But let's be real here about expectations: gluten free bread does not taste like wheat bread. I think the gluten free community, bakeries and consumers often fall into the trap of trying to replicate the texture and flavour of wheat a little too much. So this bread doesn't taste like wheat, because it's not made of wheat. The exciting thing for me about working with gluten free flours IS their complex flavour profiles. They tend to have more distinct tastes and textures, and working to find a balance is a challenge I relish. Anyone who has ever used too much quinoa flour will definitely be able to relate to this. Big time. So this bread doesn't taste like wheat, but is does taste like seedy, nutty, wholegrain-y awesomeness.
Slather it with honey, jam, PB, butter, coconut manna, avo. I have tried nearly all of these (oh, and HUMMUS!) and they are all superb. Toasted, it's basically heaven.
SEEDY GLUTEN FREE SODA BREADmakes 1 decent loaf
1 c/165 g brown rice flour
1 c/140 g buckwheat flour
1/2 c/100 g millet meal (not millet flour, meal has the texture of polenta)
1/2 c/65 g chickpea flour (also called besan or gram flour)
3/4 c/95 g quinoa flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 heaped tbsp each of: sunflower, sesame, flax, poppy + pumpkin seeds
1 and 3/4 c almond mylk + 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 200C, and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Combine all the seeds together in a small bowl and set aside. Combine mylk and apple cider vinegar; set aside to curdle.
Sift together all flours, millet meal, baking soda, powder and salt in a large bowl. Reserve 2 tbsp of the seed mix, adding the rest to the dry ingredients, stirring to combine. Create a well in the centre of the dry mixture and add the curdled almond mylk, leaving about 1-2 tbsp to coat the loaf.
Using a wooden spoon, mix the dough until it comes together, then use your hands to give it a quick knead. Moving quickly, turn out the dough onto your baking tray, and shape into an oval about 30 cm long. Using a small sharp knife, score the loaf (making the incisions about half as deep as the loaf). Use a pastry brush to brush over the remains almond mylk, then sprinkle left over seeds on top. Bake for 50-55 minutes. When it's done, the loaf should sound mostly hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before attempting to slice. The more the loaf cools, the easier it will be to slice, so don't freak out if it's really crumbly when you first hack into it. Bread will keep in a container at room temperature for 1-2 days (SO much easier to slice the next day), or in the fridge for 3-4. Bread kept in the freezer or fridge is best toasted. (Really, any bread older than 1 day is best toasted). Enjoy!