Monday, October 4, 2010

A G-free Flop

I've been sampling a lot of gluten free breads and cakes in my neighbourhood. To date, it's been a unpalatable waste of money. Last summer, I picked up a loaf of quinoa bread. From the moment I opened the package, I knew it would be a tough sell in my kitchen. It smelled like a swamp. Not that there's anything wrong with swamp smell. I just don't want to eat swamp. The texture of the bread was like sand. The taste was just plain yucky. My daughter took one bite and immediately wiped off her tongue.

I'm always reluctant to throw out good food, so I thought, why not turn a dry loaf into a decadent  bread pudding. I made a chocolate-coconut custard with my best cocoa and coconut cream.
It was devine. Until I added the bread. As the bread pudding was baking, an unpleasant odour filled  the kitchen. It was an awful rotting stench. The end product tasted as bad as it smelled. Lesson learn: stay away from quinoa bread.

A few weeks passed until I was adventurous enough to buy another loaf of G-free bread. It was an organic cheese loaf. It smelled right and it look right. I handed out slices to my children who were like Pavlov's dogs, eager for an after-school snack. They popped the bread into their little mouths. All three of them had the same reaction. A unanimous YUCK! I tried a slice and just couldn't swallow it. It wasn't much better than the quinoa experiment. Does anyone know where in Ottawa I can buy a decent loaf of gluten free bread?

These days, after several frustrating failures buying G-free breads, I tend to stick to my own concoctions. The recipe below is a tried and true beauty for banana loaf.  An old colleague, Dean, would bring me freshly baked slices with a pat of melting butter. His mother, grandmother and great grandmother proudly baked the recipe. I feel honoured that he shared it with me.

I toyed with the original recipe and have come up with a variation that is suitable for a dairy-free and G-free diet. I have used store-bought gluten free flour plus a quarter teaspoon of xanthum gum. I'm not crazy about using xanthum gum. I'm not keen on the smell nor the fact that it's 100% synthetic.
That said, the end product is good in terms of texture and taste. You can't even tell it's gluten free.
Still, if you're like me and prefer to use natural ingredients, try this flour substitution for the recipe below:
1 cup of wheat flour = 1/4 cup buckwheat flour + 3/4 cup rice flour.

The buckwheat will make it a denser and more filling loaf. This makes a hearty breakfast or lunchbox snack.  

Quick and Dirty Banana Loaf
1 cup sugar  or 1/2 c agave
3 Tbsp shortening or 3 Tbsp vegetable or grape seed oil
2 eggs
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
4 large bananas - the browner the better because you can reduce the sugar
2 cups flour or 1/2 cup buckwheat flour + 1/2 cup rice flour
optional: chocolate chips/ sunflower seeds/ shredded coconut.

Pre-heat over to 350 degrees. Grease two loaf pans. Mix everything together. Add the mashed bananas and flour last. Let the gluten-free batter sit for 10 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for at least 30 minutes.
This freezes perfectly.

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