One of the biggest barriers to the gluten-free life for Spouse 1.0 has been the thought that, if he fully embraces the lifestyle, it's good-bye forever to really yummy breads.
A life without the crusty, chewy goodness of sourdough bread is about as incomprehensible for him as a life without Diet Dr. Pepper once seemed to me.
Some of the commercial gluten-free breads are interesting and tasty, in their own brick-like way. Food for Life's brown rice and pecan bread is actually quite good, especially when toasted and drowning in melted butter.
But, Spouse needs real bread. Fresh and chewy, not frozen. Bread-snob approved.
So, I've been reading about gluten free bread. And reading. And reading.
None of it has been terribly encouraging. GF flours are less forgiving than wheat flours. You need a special bread machine with a GF cycle -- but, the reviews of such machines tend to be.... well... mixed. Or, you need a programmable bread machine -- and, you have to program it. Or, you need to intercept your old-fashioned bread machine before the dough rises a second time. Or, you need to use the basic cycle and be prepared for bread that's not really all that good.
Failure looms at every turn.
Expensive failure, since most GF flours cost between $.75 and $1.85 per cup.
But, last week I stumbled upon Red Star yeast's site. They have recipes for GF breads that, mercifully, use standard, garden-variety GF flours like rice, tapioca, and potato. And, they had a recipe for sourdough starter.
So, Friday night I went to Henry's to get white rice flour and a cooking thermometer. I started the starter, then nurtured it all weekend long. Lovingly stirring it, keeping it warm and safe and clean.
The Spouse hauled the old Oster bread machine in from the garage. I poured over the manual, comparing my machine's features against all the cautions and advice in my new GF breads cookbook.
Finally, this morning, the starter was ready.
I followed the recipe -- mostly. I was getting low on white rice flour, so I substituted some brown rice flour. We didn't have powdered milk, and we aren't supposed to have cow's milk, anyway. So, I substituted almond milk for the water, and added a tiny drizzle more than the recipe called for. The egg replacer was optional, so I left it out.
I set the machine on the dough cycle. When it was done, I put it on the bake cycle. When that was done, tested the temperature. It was only 160, so I left the bread in the hot machine for a few more minutes. Tested again. 185. That was probably close enough to 200. I hoped.
Removed it from the pan, cooled it, sliced it, and....
It looked, smelled, felt, and tasted like bread!
It wasn't the yummy chewy crusty goodness you get at your favorite seafood restaurant, but it was very, very good.
And, it only took me an entire weekend to make it.
Thank you, Red Star.