Gluten-free Monday: Oat Soda Bread

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.  😀

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Heartlander of the Week: It’s a Marathon

The Heartlander is back, and this week’s Heartlander is Caitlyn Jenner.

We first got to know Caitlyn when she was Bruce, gold medal Decathlete. I’m vaguely old enough to remember 1976 and 1975 and what a craptastic self-image the United States had of itself back then. A controversial War ends with a Legislative defunding and a botched evacuation, political scandals and exposes of “Military Intelligence” that is spying on virtually every American adult, and this was a Country that needed a birthday party, something to celebrate a couple of nice presents—Happy Birthday, you made it to 200! Here’s a gold medal in the most difficult Olympic sport.

A reminder that “America” was not about the instantaneous and the spectacular, that “America” to some of us, at least, is about the long, slow, pace grind, the step by step journey that at times is shrouded, mysterious, unknown, uncertain, obscure. That “America” is about a type of introspection, of self-driven goals, of “who cares, I just want to do this for myself as much as anyone else.”

I was a bit too young in 1976 to understand what a Decathlon was—I barely understood the Olympics—but there was a dark-haired man with a Breck Girl doo in his underwear on Daddy’s Wheaties box and everyone thought it was a big deal and he did something like Peggy Fleming and Dorothy Hamill and it was a big deal because America hadn’t done that one before. And Deca meant ten. (This would come in useful a few years later in elementary geometry class.) And people were cheering and happy.

Like most major athletes, Bruce aged out of his sport and retired to a behind the scenes life that probably included some coaching and popping up occasionally on a Christmas Special. Bruce next reappeared to most of us as the Hollywood Superdad on the “Kardashians” franchise. Lots of daughters, lots of grandkids, lot of patience. Then the heartbreak that another long-term marriage was coming to an end—“Doesn’t anybody stay together anymore?”

And then the big surprise moment that kind of reminds me of the moment in “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” where the Dad asks the widowed neighbor’s daughter to marry him instead of the widow next door and everyone is happy but everyone is screaming and clapping and passing out—“Bruce” will soon be “Caitlyn”. In the vintage vernacular, for some time, he has felt like a woman trapped in a man’s body. OK, now we all feel better about Mom and Dad’s divorce.

As the story is emerging, her Hollywood friends have known for some time that Bruce felt the need to be Caitlyn and had time to learn and adjust (or perhaps reject and depart). For the masses, it has been a bit of a shock, one that is becoming the long, slow, paced grind that we associated with Bruce. Caitlyn is progressing through another “Decathlon”, and much like ’76, we are all caught up in an enormous achievement in its own way. And she is leading the way, bring many of us to a place we never thought we would be.

Watching her acceptance speech at the ESPY’s last week, a plea for rational understanding, I really felt comforted. I think I’m fairly liberal on Gender and Sexual Rights, although I do admit I have concerns about body alteration, generally, although on my third hand I realize it is a process that is not undertaken lightly by the medical community, complex and not really my business. Transgender is a difficult topic, and one that now had a leader in America. She’s a leader we remember from another time and it’s a topic that has lacked leadership. I don’t know that I’m completely resolved to the topic of transgender, but it does somehow feel good to be lead. This, of course, is a difficult admission of my own for a Contrarian Gen Xer.

And, like other women, I also feel completely outclassed by America’s new “Woman Who Does Everything Better Than You” fantastic dress, 65 and still has Breck hair, fabulous home, amazing children, grandchildren, and totally resolved relationship with her X. OK. She’s been a woman for a few months and she’s already better at it than me.

Congratulations, Caitlyn, you’re stepping through the events, 100 meters, long jump, shot put . . . it will be a while until we watch you run the marathon, but you’ve got our attention and we’re on the edge of our seats, cheering for you the whole way.

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Heartlander of the Week: It’s a Grand Old Flag

This week’s Heartlander is the United States Congress for allowing “key” parts of the Patriot Act to expire. Score one for the Fourth Amendment; or make that two. Annddd . . . Lone Wolves are breathing safer and sleeping sounder.  (Woof.  Grrg-hrmf.) Long May She Wave . . . .

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Heartlander of the Week: American Music

This week’s Heartlander is BB King.  Partner of Lucille, the guitar; son of Mississippi; child of America.

The nice thing about artists is, even when they leave you, you always have their Work.

Another Angel for the Choir, er, the Band.  🙂

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Gluten-free Monday: Get Bookish

I was in the bookstore the other day perusing the bargain shelves, the ones near the front where a serendipitous collection of a nonfiction, do it yourself, how tos, and self help books are offer at highly affordable prices.  I was surprised to note a half dozen gluten-free cookbooks of one flavor or another–gluten-free cooking for kids, gluten-free cakes, gluten-free crockpot, etc.

Not to sell myself short, skip libraries or endorse any one book or author, but it seems like gluten-free is hitting the mainstream in more ways than one.   It’s nice to see that a diet restriction once thought imaginary or eccentric at best is making inroads into the mass market.  I’m enjoying the challenge of gluten-free cooking and baking and am glad that more resources are available.  I love my old cookbooks and still use them with my own adaptations, and am looking forward to more recipes.

🙂

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Heartlander of the Week: Wait It Out

To Blake Hyland, his family, and medical team.

Following a head injury early last year, this young man spent weeks in a coma–classic, he may never recover, never  be the same.  He is now slated to head back to school in the fall and finish high school.

Never give up.

🙂

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Heartlander of the Week: Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

To the Wisconsin State Legislature—admittedly, no one’s favorite organization most weeks—for limiting access to heavy weaponry by local police departments.

We’ve come a long way from the mannerly officer on the street corner saying hello to the passersby. Body armor, reinforced vehicles, side arms, M-16s, and then something called the SWAT team.

You could try a rallying cry like, “Remember Ferguson!” Or maybe, “Remember Detroit” when it was one of the greatest cities on the planet. Or how about, “Remember Democracy and Civil Society” before the Crack Wars.

Slip the Daisy down the Barrel. All I am saying, is give Peace a Chance.

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