Sunday 6 March 2011

Rustic millet & malted buckwheat bread

Here's a riddle: what's crusty and chewy on the outside, with a soft, open crumb, full of whole grains, and gluten-free?

If you guessed "this bread"...ok, I know that wasn't really a riddle. Honestly, though - it is over 50% whole grain, yet has no eggs or gum. (Go ahead, check the recipe!) It's also really delicious, and keeps for days without getting dry. So go ahead - it's actually quite easy to make! I've been making it for a few months now, and have finally gotten the recipe just right. I gave up on trying to get a really impressive picture of it, and just decided to give you the recipe.

There's really only one problem with this bread: because of the high oat content, it doesn't really brown at all. It's so good that that doesn't matter, though - especially if you make it prettier (and even tastier) by rolling it in seeds before baking. I've just used sesame here, but I think a blend of sesame and poppy seeds would be even better.

I first hinted at this bread in my post about malting buckwheat. If you've never tried malting, I really encourage you to go for it! The seeds do most of the work themselves, you'll just need to tend to them every so often. Within a few days, you'll have nutty, sweet, roasted buckwheat bits that add a really special flavour to bread. (If you don't want to wait that long, you might try substituting whole teff grains or maybe some sort of seeds.)

This recipe uses a piece of equipment not normally used for baking: a blender. That's because the sponge starts with raw grains rather than flour - the resulting larger grain pieces keep the crumb from being too close, which makes bread gummy. It also gives a very nice, rustic texture.

So here's what to do:

The day before you want to bake the bread, combine in a blender:

- 1/4 c whole millet
- 3 T raw buckwheat
- 2 T malted buckwheat
- 1 c gluten-free rolled oats
- 60 mL thin yogurt, such as Trader Joe's European Style (yogurt should be just milk & cultures, no added thickeners)
- 250 mL water or whey

Blend until the mixture reaches a thin porridge consistency (no big chunks!), probably about a minute if you are using a standard kitchen blender. Pour the resulting slurry into a large bowl and stir in:

- 1/2 teaspoon yeast

Cover the bowl tightly and set it in a draft-free place for 12 - 24 hours.

Now make the dry mixture (sorry, only volume measurements for now - my scale seems to have lost its accuracy)

3/4 c tapioca starch
3/4 c Expandex modified tapioca starch
2 tsp potato flour (not starch)
2 tsp chickpea or other bean flour
3/8 tsp Pomona's pure citrus pectin (this is just pectin - as opposed to standard brands like Ball's etc which contain dextrose or other fillers)
2 T psyllium husks
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
(optional - 2 tsp sugar)

Blend the dry ingredients thoroughly, then mix into the sponge from yesterday. Knead dough by hand to ensure it is well-dispersed. If dough seems too stiff, sprinkle in a teaspoon or two of water. Re-cover bowl and set in a warmish place for up to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.

Now rub a piece of parchment with olive oil, and pre-heat oven (with baking stone) to 200º C/400º F.
Press dough into a flat rectangle on the parchment paper (as if you were going to make cinnamon rolls, but smaller). Roll the dough up into a narrow loaf shape, with the seam on the bottom, and roll it in plenty of sesame and/or poppy seeds. Cut slashes in the top crust and drape a piece of plastic-wrap over the loaf. Allow it to double in size (about 1 - 1 1/2 hours) and, using a baking peel or baking sheet to transfer, slide it onto the baking stone.

Bake for one hour. Cool for at least an hour before slicing.

P.S. - After this week, I'll be able to post (and create) recipes a lot more often. This is my final week of college! (Which means really ought to get back to work on my final project, rather than blogging.) Soon I will also post some tutorials, going over yeasted-bread-baking techniques in more detail.
Until then - Enjoy your bread!