Bread. Bread. Bread.
If you’re gluten-free, those five letters evoke a passionate psychological response. Ditching gluten means, for better or for worse, becoming at least slightly obsessed with bread.
Bread will trigger melodramatic “It’s not faaaair!” meltdowns when you’re just trying to eat out, or grab coffee in the breakroom, or pack a lunch that doesn’t require utensils and refrigeration. The smell of a Subway, formerly nauseating in its pretense, will trigger a symphony of stomach rumbles. The siren call of danishes and donuts will hypnotize you in cafes. The body of Christ will even mock you at church. Us gluten-freeple can’t catch a break: bread is everywhere.
And in a way, this makes sense. Humans have been making bread for millenia, and one could argue (persuasively) that bread separates us from the apes. Roughly 12,000 years ago, the Neolithic Revolution got its start almost simultaneously in China, the Fertile Crescent, and Mesoamerica. Humans discovered that grains could be cultivated, animals domesticated, and civilizations built. It took a toll on us physically (less varied and nutritious diets actually shortened our lives and our stature), and on the environment (deforestation, erosion, and loss of biodiversity), but in exchange we got cities and commerce, technology and croissants. Would anyone really go back?
The argument can be made that we were never meant to eat grains, but let’s face it: grains fuel a population of seven billion and counting. Also, grains are delicious. For better or for worse, our brains can’t get enough of that starchy stuff. The brain knows that paleo muffins are not real muffins, and that a lettuce wrap is not the same as a bun. Is it good to lay off on the grains? Of course. But eschewing them altogether? I’m only human.
With that homily out of the way, I have a bread recipe for you today. I love bread just as much as you do. Sometimes you just need to bask in the glow of grilled cheese and avo toast like a real girl.
Despite already having a great wholemeal gluten-free bread recipe on the site, this honey oat bread has become my go-to. I always have the flours on hand, and it’s just so dang tasty. If you have some oats and a coffee grinder, this pliable, devour-able loaf can be yours in two shakes. (Well, maybe three. There is yeast involved.) If you’ve never made gluten-free bread, this is a great place to start. A few pointers:
- Skip the bread machine. Mix and bake this the old-fashioned way to avoid overflowing, burnt disasters. It’s just as easy as making a cake!
- You will have a thick, sticky batter, not a dough. Also: zero kneading.
- Mix for a long time to hydrate the flours. Gluten-free flours are often dry, and this helps them absorb the liquid properly.
- Protein helps build a sturdy loaf, so break out those whole grains. Garbanzo flour, eggs, and dry milk powder are also great structure-building assistants.
- Store the loaf covered, at room temperature, for two days max. No matter how great a loaf you bake, it’s going to dry out and crumble eventually. Slice it up and freeze, then use the toaster to bring your bread back to life!
Without further ado, here is the recipe for today’s lovely loaf. In some small way, I hope that it helps you savor what it means to be human. You are privileged to join a lineage of bakers and civilization-builders, through the simple act of mixing yeast, water, and grain.
- 50g (1/3 cup) cornmeal
- 80g (2/3 cup) tapioca starch
- 100g (1 cup) oat flour
- 50g (1/2 cup) old fashioned rolled oats
- 60g (1/2 cup) sorghum flour
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
- 1 1/4 cups water or milk (any kind), heated to body temperature (90F)
- 50g (3 Tablespoons) honey
- 45g (4 Tablespoons) oil
- 1 egg
- Line an 8"x4" loaf pan with a strip of parchment down the center and set aside.
- Whisk yeast and a drop of the honey into milk or water, and set aside to proof for 5 minutes.
- Whisk dry ingredients (cornmeal through salt) in the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour in the proofed yeast mixture, honey, oil, and egg. Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes to hydrate the flours.
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top with wet fingers. Cover with a tea towel and set aside for an hour to rise, until the loaf reaches the top of the pan.
- When loaf is almost risen, preheat oven to 350F. Bake loaf for 35-40 minutes, until golden on top and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 200F.
- Remove loaf from oven and allow to cool 15 minutes in the pan. Use a sharp knife to cut the long edges loose from the pan, and tug on the parchment ends to remove it from the pan to a cooling rack. Cool completely before cutting in.
- Loaf may be stored a few days on the counter, or sliced and frozen for any time beyond that.