A mentor I had at work once told me that I was like a terrier: once I got my teeth into something, I wouldn’t let it go until I was done with it. Some might say I’m stubborn; I prefer tenacious.
I’ve often said here on the blog that I can’t bake. And it was true, I hadn’t had much success with baking. Plus, I don’t find baking fun. I like chopping vegetables and sauteeing, not measuring and mixing. I am very much NOT a measurer! And I’m a messy cook so the flour gets EVERYWHERE especially on me.
The problem is that gluten-free vegan bread is hard to come by and what is out there just doesn’t measure up to gluten breads. Sure, I have my loaf of brown rice bread in the freezer and once in a while, Tom toasts it up for my breakfast. I get these 2 teeny-tiny squares of plank bread that can have you volunteering to go on a no-carb diet.
And restaurants are no better. We go to our favorite vegan restaurant and the only gluten-free bread option is the same bread I have in my freezer!! Another place we go makes delicious vegan sandwiches but their gluten-free bread isn’t even vegan – it has eggs!
Since going gluten-free, I realized that I had given up sandwiches. I’ll have toast now and then but I miss having veggie burgers on a toasted ciabatta buns, philly cheesesteaks or french dips on hero bread and I really, really miss challah and rye bread.
So I began studying the science of gluten-free baking and it really is a science. Unlike regular flour, you can’t just choose one gluten-free flour and start baking. There are formulas for how to mix different flours to get the right taste and texture and then you have to know how to add other ingredients to replace the qualities of gluten.
Well, all my hard studying paid off because I made the most delicious ciabatta bread. You wouldn’t even know it was gluten-free. It’s crunchy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. It toasts up beautifully and it tastes scrumptious. I added garlic and rosemary to simulate my favorite gluten ciabatta bread at Trader Joe’s.
After my shock at having successfully baked bread waned down enough for me to function again, I made 2 spreads so we could make bruschetta: a tangy tomato and kalamata olive relish and a spicy chimichurri. They were both so delicious, Tom and I almost ate the whole loaf!
So my mentor was right – I’m a terrier (my favorite kind of dog) who never gives up. I can no longer say that I can’t bake because I’m learning how. Now I just have to learn to keep some of that flour in the bowl instead of on my clothes. Enjoy!
Gluten-Free Garlic and Rosemary Ciabatta Bread
1 cup warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 Tbs. agave nectar
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup garbano/fava bean flour
½ cup amaranth flour
½ cup tapioca flour
2 tsp. xanthan gum
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir the yeast into a cup of warm water. Add the agave nectar and allow the yeast to sit for about 10 mintues until it gets frothy.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl add the flours, xanthan gum, salt, and spices. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Make a well by stirring the flour mix to the edges of the bowl. Add the olive oil and the yeast mixture into the center of the well. Slowly use the spoon to mix the wet ingredients with the dry until a dough forms. Then use your hands to completely combine the ingredients but don’t work it too much.
Once everything is well combined and you have a ball of dough, put the dough into a well-oiled bowl. Turn the dough to make sure it gets coated with oil on all sides. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and set it in a warm place to rise. Allow the dough to rise for about 30 minutes or until it is doubled in size.
Move the dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Shape it into a round or oval shape, depending on what you like. With a knife, make a few slashes in the sides of the dough, not very deep. Bake for 45 minutes or until the bread is golden brown and you can hear a hollow sound when you tap the sides. Be sure to check the bread after 40 minutes as different ovens run differently.
Let the bread cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before slicing it.
½ cup plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
¼ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
1 Tbs. fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
10-12 slices of ciabatta bread
Olive oil spray
Preheat the broiler to high. Combine the tomatoes, olives, and parsley in a bowl. Season with vinegar, salt and pepper.
Arrange the bread on a baking sheet, spray with olive oil and broil until toasted on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn over and brown the other side. Top with tomato-olive mixture before serving.
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. dried thyme or 1 tsp. fresh thyme
A pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbs. vegan grated parmesan
2 Tbs. vegan butter, softened
Kosher salt to taste
10-12 slices of ciabatta
Preheat the oven to broil. Stir together the parsley, butter, Parmesan, oregano, thyme, pepper flakes, garlic and salt in a bowl.
Spread the chimichurri over the bread and broil for 1-2 minutes until the bread is toasted. Alternatively, you can toast the bread and then add the fresh chimichurri to the bread.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.