Sunday, December 12, 2010

GF Avocado Bread

OK, so avocado bread doesn't really qualify as easy. Or healthy. But, converting my mom's old avocado bread recipe to GF was easier than expected.  

You read so much about how persnickety the GF flours are compared to wheat (they are), and how getting the right amount of xanthan gum is almost as much art as it is science (it is).

Add the fact that the moisture content of fresh, natural fruits and vegs can vary widely. Yup, you've got a recipe for potential disaster.

But, fortunately, this time disaster did not strike. 

This was Mom's recipe:

3/4 C shortening
2 C sugar
3 eggs
2 C sifted flour
3 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 C pureed avocado
3/4 C buttermilk
1/2 C chopped walnuts
3/4 C raisins
Corn syrup
Another 1/2 C chopped walnuts

  1. Add sugar slowly to shortening, beating until light and fluffy.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Sift dry ingredients together.
  4. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  5. Add avocado and buttermilk.
  6. Add walnuts and raisins.
  7. Pour batter into 2 greased and floured loaf pans.
  8. Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes.
  9. Brush with corn syrup, top with nuts, and broil until bubbly.
 Mom's avocado bread was exceedingly yummy.  She pretty much only made it at Christmas.

I was kind of missing her, and I had some rapidly fading avocados that needed to be used up.  I'd been wanting to try converting a standard recipe to something we could eat.  So, it was time.

With our dietary restrictions, substitutions beyond the usual GF ones were required:
  • Obviously, no wheat flour for the Spouse.  Substitute brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch.
  • Xanthan gum. That one is tricky.  I remember seeing a guideline for "If you're cooking this, use this much per cup of flour."  I couldn't find that in my books. So, I decided to go with the oft heard 1 tsp per cup of flour, and hope for the best.
  • No white sugar. Use raw.
  • No pasteurized cow's milk (including buttermilk). But, we can have Greek yogurt.
  • No corn for David, so substitute agave syrup. 
  • Neither of us likes raisins, so substitute dates.
  • Butter is a little cheaper than organic shortening, and I feel better about butter. So, use 1/2 butter and half shortening
Also, a couple of small changes in the procedure were in order:
  • I only have 1 loaf pan, so use one loaf pan and one 9" square pan
  • GF stuff likes parchment paper. So, with the 9" pan I used parchment. I experimented with shortening and almond meal for the loaf pan.
  • Baking took lots longer than expected.

So, the ingredient list now looks like this:

6 Tbsp organic shortening
6 Tbsp butter
2 C raw sugar
3 organic eggs
1 C brown rice flour
1/2 C potato starch
1/2 C tapioca starch
2 tsp xanthan gum
3 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 C pureed or mashed avocado
3/4 C Greek yogurt
1/2 C chopped walnuts
3/4 C raisins
Agave syrup
A fistful or two of chopped walnuts

And, now the procedure looks like this:
  1. Add raw sugar to shortening and butter, beating until it's as light and fluffy as raw sugar and fat can get.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
  3. Mix dry ingredients together thoroughly.
  4. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
  5. Add avocado and yogurt.
  6. Add walnuts and dates.
  7. Pour batter into 1 greased and almond-mealed loaf pan and one parchment-lined 9" square pan. (Mine are glass.)
  8. Bake at 350 for 60-65 minutes. Then bake another 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 325 and keep baking until a toothpick comes out reasonably clean.
  9. Brush with agave syrup, top with nuts, and bake or broil a little longer -- until bubbly if you're broiling.

 The results were: Not like mom's. 
Of course, brown rice flour is way grittier than wheat flour.  Next time, I might try using sorghum or a combination of brown rice and oat flour, plus the tapioca and potato to try to get the texture a little closer to home.  And, the yogurt just didn't have quite the tang of buttermilk. I could try a tiny bit of apple cider vinegar mixed into the wet ingredients to give it a little more kick.
The other thing is that the xanthan gum makes the mess pretty hard to mix by the time you add the avocado. You risk burning out your hand mixer (or your hands) by the time you add the nuts and dates. The more you mix, the harder it gets to mix.  Thus, the fruits and nuts didn't get incorporated evenly.  So, next time I think I'll add the avocado and yogurt to the wet ingredients before adding the dry ingredients.
But, despite all that, it was pretty good, in its own GF way. I'd definitely make it again.



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