So, I have returned from hiatus. This hiatus was a working hiatus and a technical difficulties hiatus, not a vacation hiatus. No, no, the past few months have not been a vacation. :-*
One of my discoveries during my “Unwired Period” is home made oat flour soda bread. Free of yeast as well as gluten, I am in love with having bread around the house regularly for the first time in years. I had actually stopped eating bread several years before learning about gluten intolerance for reasons that I didn’t really understand. A Lenten commitment to give up sweets and alcohol threw the bread out with the goodies and replaced them with yogurt and fruit smoothies.
I never tried making my own savory bread in my gluten-consuming days, but was considering embarking on learning bread-making when I realized I was gluten-intolerant. I put bread-making on hold in favor of learning gluten-free.
Recently, I got interested in bread making again—out of an interest in bread eating, growing confidence in gluten-free cooking, and not wanting to break the bank on mass market gluten-free bread. I wanted to try my hand at a gluten-free savory bread, but not necessarily muck around with learning about yeast, which I have never worked with. Something jogged my memory that soda bread is leavened with baking soda, not yeast, so I searched the ‘Net for simple Soda Bread recipes, gluten-free or otherwise.
Some of the recipes I found were really complicated and there was a lot of variation, including the traditional non-gluten-free recipes. Some of the recipes including things like raisins, and some of the gluten-free versions had complex mixes of a half dozen or more flours. I eventually found one very simple gluten-free recipe that used only oat flour, a gluten-free flour substitute, butter, salt, baking powder and baking soda and about 1/3 of a cup of milk soured with apple cider vinegar. The result was a very thick, sticky dough that held together as a big ball and is then placed on a tray in the over (butter the tray if you don’t want it to stick) and comes out as a dome-shaped loaf. This produced an interesting result, but was rather dry and crumbly. I noticed that many of the other recipes called for 2 or more cups of buttermilk or soured milk with a similar amount of flour.
I played around and came up with a basic recipe using only oat flour that seems to work really well. Sometimes the bread is crumbly and not really usable for a sandwich, but at the very least it can be eaten with a meal, and I eventually came up with a way to make a loaf of oat bread than can be reliably thin-sliced and used for a sandwich.
How liquidy the “dough” is seems to vary a lot with the same amount of flour, which I think is something to do with “hard” and “soft” grain. One time the result was super liquidy, like a banana or cranberry bread, so I poured it into a round ceramic pan, cooked it a bit longer and got something that was an awesome, yummy, much fluffier and moist result!
Oat Soda Bread
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon of salt (or more if you like bread a bit salty)
1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda (more makes it taste like baking soda)
1 ½ -3 cups of buttermilk or milk soured with vinegar (1 Tablespoon of vinegar for every 1/3 cup of milk) I’ve used buttermilk, vinegar and milk, and a mix of both and they seem to all work similarly. I also used some sour milk that was forgotten in the fridge and it worked fine, too.
¼ cup butter
2 Tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If using milk and vinegar, mix the milk and vinegar first and let sit for a few minutes. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Melt butter in a small pan on the stove or in the microwave, mix with honey and then add to dry ingredients. Add at least one cup of buttermilk/ sour milk, and stir. Let it sit after mixing for a few minutes to let the flour absorb the liquid. If the dough seems dry, add more buttermilk/milk If the mixture looks dry, it can be baked on a cookie sheet, or you can add more buttermilk/ sour milk and cook in a ceramic or metal pan. Bake for 20 minutes, turn. Bake for another 20 minutes, then test with a fork or toothpick—crumbs are OK, goopy uncooked dough is not.
The lump on a cookie sheet method can produce a nice, moist loaf of bread, but seems a bit trickier and I think you have to know your flour mixture and make sure that the texture turns out like a lump of clay or library paste (the taste is fine) so that it sits in a big ball on the cookie sheet.
The time that I used 3 cups of oat flour and 1 ½ cups of buttermilk and got a bowl of something like a thick soup or a smoothie or something and didn’t have any more flour, I poured the result into a round ceramic oven-safe pan. I baked it for a full hour (the inside was still gooey at 40 minutes) and the result was very nice! It didn’t rise quite as much, but the texture was very moist and it held together a bit better, so that I could thin-slice the bread (slices less than half an inch). The next time I tried the ceramic dish cooking method I purposefully mixed in enough buttermilk to make the dough runny (2 cups) and cooked it in the oven until it was done in the center. I had to leave after I took it out of the over, and put the glass cover on the top to keep the cat out of it. The final result was a very moist loaf of bread that held together very well and was very easily thin-sliced about ¼ of an inch wide. I also tried baking the dough with the lid on the dish. It rose well, but did not brown. I did take the lid off for the last fifteen minutes and the result was very moist with a kind of spongy texture and the bread held together for thin-slicing.
I think this basic recipe would work with other flours or other flour mixes, but I haven’t actually tried it yet, so I don’t actually know. I am also wondering if I can make tiny little dinner roll-sized breads, either in small pans of on a cookie sheet. Hmmm . . . .
I do have a few pics, but my return to the Information Superhighway has encountered “Slow Speed for Summer Construction.” More later. 😀