Bread is one of those really simple things in life that we can take for granted – until of course you either give up (or start reducing) your gluten intake! After giving up gluten, bread is probably one of the first things that you’ll miss. I mean you can sort of get used to it, but for most of us, life isn’t quite the same unless you can treat yourself a good loaf. Shop bought gluten-free breads, tend to rely on a whole host of ingredients that aren’t the healthiest either, often containing eggs to help the binding process and a whole host of suspicious additives.
Last year I set myself a mission to create some healthy, gluten-free vegan bread alternatives. I must admit, gluten-free baking has been my biggest challenge in the kitchen so far and I’ve spent A LOT of time experimenting with different ingredients to find something that really hits the spot. I’ve been making loaves, bread buns and wraps with different combinations of ingredients. I wanted to to begin to understand the process of bread alchemy and figure out if it is even possible to make a good gluten-free vegan loaf. I’ve even explored using yeast in some experiments, to see if I can get that desirable ‘rise’. I am still exploring – although I’ve developed a few favourites that I am delighted to have as alternatives.
Gluten-free Vegan Bread – Thinking out of the box
So, here’s the thing… Gluten-free bread is NEVER going to be the same as regular wheat & yeast bread. It’s just not! You need to use completely different ingredients that dance and entwine in a totally different way together. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an absolutely delectable experience. The first trick that helped me was to stop expecting it to be exactly like the stuff I grew up with. We have to think out of the box a little and come to appreciate a new kind of experience. This is a redesign from the ground up.The good news is that it’s both healthy and de-e-elicious!
Today I am going to show you my favourite soda bread loaf formula. I thought I’d share this one because it’s easy. It holds together really well (especially once cooled down). My soda bread works particularly well with soup or for use as open sandwiches. The texture has a perfect moistness, a soft bite and a delicious flavour. Once it cools down properly you can also slice it reasonably thin too – and I have even used it to make regular salad sandwiches. Once cooled you can slice it with a bread knife, a serrated knife or even a regular, sharp chefs knife.
Video tutorial to show you how…
I’ve created a helpful video tutorial to talk you through and demonstrate the whole process. Please check it out first…
A note about gluten-free oats
One of the helpful ingredients in this recipe is oats. One day it surprised me to find that oats are actually naturally gluten-free! Hurrah! However, when I investigated further, I found that farmers normally rotate their crops (i.e. grow different crops in each field every year). This means that oats will typically share fields where gluten grains such as wheat and barley have grown. Anyone who knows anything about growing plants, will be aware that is that it is almost impossible not to have ‘unwanted’ seeds from previous years crops popping back up randomly. So, this years oat crop, will inevitable have some of last years wheat popping back up through the soil (for example). They often also grow these different grains in fields next to each other too, leading to wind-blown contamination. Unfortunately for gluten sensitives, this means a small (but significant) amount of contamination. It has been shown that whilst oats themselves are gluten-free, they are more often than not contaminated with gluten. They have also been shown be contaminated in the factories (which also process wheat, rye & barley) or in transportation containers etc.
The good news is that some companies now offer certified gluten-free oats. These are oats grown separately from gluten grains and produced in facilities where there is no sign of anything containing gluten. So if you don’t want gluten at all, then be sure to buy gluten-free oats.
A note on international measurements
Please note: I created this gluten-free soda bread using weighing scales for accurate measurement. However, since I know that some of my friends in North America are only using cups, I’ve approximated the cup measurements to help. Although I can’t guarantee the cup conversions are exact because I haven’t tried this recipe that style myself.
OK let’s do this!
- 4 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 175ml water ( ¾ cup)
- 200g ground gluten-free oats (1¾ cup approx)
- 100g millet flour (just over ½ cup)
- 75g coconut flour (just under ½ cup)
- 50g tapioca starch (just under ½ cup)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 250ml water (1 cup)
- Mix the ground flax seed with 175ml water and put to the side to thicken whilst you prepare the rest of the the recipe.
- Weigh and mix all the dried ingredients together.
- Go back to the flax/water mix and whisk with a fork quickly to achieve and 'egg-like' consistency. And add to the dry ingredients.
- Add the melted coconut oil, 250ml of extra water, apple cider vinegar and mix everything together thoroughly until everything is evenly combined. Start with a spoon and then once it starts coming together use your hands. The dough should be slightly sticky (but not too sticky) and come together nicely into a firm ball.
- Compress down evenly into a parchment lined loaf tin. Loaf tin should be a 2lb (1kg) size - otherwise different depth will happen and adjusted baking time required.
- Pop into the oven on a medium to high shelf at gas mark 5 (190C/375F) for 45 minutes.
- Once baked take out and allow it to cool on a cooling rack. NOTE: It may crumble if you slice too quickly. It's quite important to allow it some cooling time first. If you want really thin slices, then definitely let it cool down thoroughly though (or even refrigerate first).