05 August, 2007

Sourdough Gluten-free Foccacia (Not Vegan)

I love bread. I am allergic to wheat. I have tried quite a few gluten-free recipes but was unable to get the flours I needed in Japan. The breads I made were all a disappointment. Though they tasted sort of okay, the texture was just plain weird, more like crumbly cake than chewy bread. I have been eating toasted mochi and rice and trying not to think about tomato sandwiches and bread dipped into soup, and pizza. When I get desperate for the taste of bread I make pancakes, which are quite nice gluten-free. But now, at last, from Foreign Buyers Club, I have got a hold of Kinnikinnick Company's Kinni-Kwik Bread and Bun Mix. I can have bread.

So on the weekend I set out to make pizza , but there on my kitchen table was a pot of sourdough I had mixed up a few days earlier. One smell and I suddenly wanted it in my bread. So I switched to making a foccacia bread, halfway through mixing up the pizza recipe in Betty Hagman's The Gluten-free Gourmet Bakes Bread book. I ended up with a too-high-to-be-foccacia but foccacia-tasting bread. It is the first gluten-free bread that I have ever enjoyed. Sometimes accidents are happy.

This bread has texture similar to a sourdough rye bread I used to make for years for my family. It is dense and has a just slightly mellow taste. It has a good crust. It has bite and chew, though a little less than bread made with wheat. After not eating bread for about 4 months (gluten-free is unavailable in Japan) I feel blessed by the grain goddess. I am happy. My diet may be in trouble.

To make this foccacia-style bread I followed the recipe for pizza dough in Bette Hagman's book but I added 2 Tb olive oil. I added about a Tb. of kantan and instead of yeast used 2 cups of a young sourdough starter, made with 1/2 cup brown rice flour and 1 & 3/4 cups Kinni-Kwik mix flour, 2 cups of water and a pinch of powdered yeast, mixed up and allowed to sit for a day or two on my warm counter. I used almond meal as the "protein" element. When I added the Kinni-Kwik mix (substituting for Betty's Mix) 1/2 cup of the flour was brown rice flour. It made the loaf much more whole-grainy and light brown in colour. I might try to increase the proportion of brown rice flour next time as I love whole grain bread. I didn't beat this bread with the mixer as it called for in the recipe. I gave it about 1 minute of mixing with a fork just until it was smooth and a bit springy. It was a thick creamy batter rather than a kneadable dough. I poured and spooned it onto a pan prepared with cornmeal, to keep it from sticking, smoothed the top with a wet spoon and sprinkled on the topping. I broke up the Rosemary, freshly picked in my own garden, into small sprigs and stuck them all over the top.

I made the recipe for two crusts but it came up very high. Next time I would make a single batch, especially since I have such a tiny oven. The bread cooks at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. If you make it in one of the small Japanese ovens (not microwave) keep a watch and start checking at about 25 minutes. Everything cooks much more quickly in these ovens. I think the bread stales quickly so a small batch is definitely better unless you're making it for a crowd. I might try freezing it and see how that works.

I made a simple topping of chopped almonds, a bit of salt, nutritional yeast and garlic powder to mimic parmesan and I sprinkled a small amount of the oil and fresh rosemary sprigs on top. If you eat cheese I'm sure real parmesan would be lovely.

I've been enjoying it for two days now, in small pieces for almost every meal. I've had it for breakfast with black coffee. I have spilt it in half and made grilled tomato and tofu sandwiches. Now to see if I can find a good recipe for stale bread. It's a "problem" I never thought I'd have again. Maybe a nice Italian bread soup. Anyone have a recipe?


unde.e.erin said...

this looks like a gread recipe, and the thought of tasting focaccia is just tantalizing after being gluten-free for 4 years! I just discovered a great recipe for stale bread which has made me want to overproduce bread a little more so that I can always keep some around...it's for Kvass, a Russian drink made from fermented bread. there are lots of recipes on the internet, but the one I made used dried mint, molasses, and lots of lemon. I got it from the book Wild Fermentation, and you could probably find the recipe at www.wildfermentation.com . good luck! the result is surprisingly light, refreshing, and similar to champagne!

vegetablej said...


Yeah, I agree. I haven't made it since, but now that I'm back in North America the flours should be easier to get and I can play around with them for better flavour.

Your suggestion about the kvass is really interesting. I have that book, so I'll look it up and give it a try. Champagne, eh? Fabulous!

And thanks for the http.