Bette's Sourdough Almond and Honey Loaf from The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Bread
I've said it before. I love bread. It's one of my top three food loves. It may be number 1. Right before 2. potatoes, and 3. avocados. It's often called the "Staff of Life". It is a staff that I've leaned on heavily over the years. It was the mainstay of school lunches for my family when they were growing up. And it's the partner for a lot of other good foods. What's soup without the bread to dip into it? What's an LT sandwich without the bread to embrace the juicy tomatoes? What's breakfast without toast? I love toast for breakfast so much that it was a chore for awhile to find something else I wanted to eat in the morning. Crispy toast, on it's own or with smoky black coffee, and a little seasonal fruit or jam. Mmmmm.
Bette's Sourdough Almond and Honey Bread, toasted and spread with sesame butter
But most breads are based on wheat. And this year I discovered that I'm allergic to wheat. Not a little allergy but one that gives me eczema that is so severe that I can't use my hands. They become itchy, cracked and sore. They get stiff so I can't bend the fingers and do a lot of things that are pretty simple for most. They hurt a lot, so that I'd become used to almost daily pain. And I'd suffered with that for most of my life, hoping for any cure. I found the problem after about half a century. Wheat. I cut it out. My hands healed and life was much better.
Except that I couldn't have bread. I couldn't buy a wheat-free bread in Japan. When I was back in Canada I tried a few breads that were okay, but nothing had that comfort that you get from a warm home-made loaf.
Then I found Gluten-free Girl, a website that talked about some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance. I started to recognize some of them and thought I would make a trial to see if it would help some other symptoms I had. Surprisingly, my chronic eczema cleared up. Migraine headaches all but disappeared. Because I felt better, I tried to eliminate gluten from my life. And because I still loved and missed bread I looked on the web for recipes. I found a lot of references to The Gluten-Free Gourmet, Bette Hagman. I tracked her book down at Amazon Japan and ordered a copy.
It was the first gluten-free bread I ever truly enjoyed. Recently I have been able to get a gluten-free flour mix from Kinnikinnik foods that works wonderfully in the recipes. This past month I have baked three batches of different breads from Bette's recipes. I enjoy this bread so much and I'm very thankful to Bette for her work in developing good breads with a bite and texture that is enjoyable. And they are great toasted.
I was sad to hear of her passing. I am very thankful to her for making bread possible for me again and for millions of others who are using her recipes or adapting her methods to improve life for the gluten-free community. For we who love bread and are nourished by it, Bette is The Staff of Life. A good legacy, I think.