Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gluten-Free Country Batard

In the wake of the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! giveaway, I thought I'd post a few bread recipes to get you on your way to some great lunches.  As you know from all my previous baking posts, I am very familiar with gluten-filled baking.  And, while I have always been intrigued with gluten-free baking and what methods can produce tasty loaves, I have never explored it in any detail.  I was really looking forward to Peter Reinhart's new gluten-free cookbook and had it on pre-order for quite a while.  I figured if anyone could crack to code of wheat-free baking it would be him.  I love all of his previous books and find his recipes very easily veganizeable (usually eggs serve to enrich the dough and little else, and thus are easy to replace).  Not so this time.  All the recipes rely heavily on eggs and egg whites to give the bread structure and rise.  So, while it is easy to replace an egg or two in some enriched dough, it's not so easy to replicate the role 8 eggs whites are supposed to play in a wheat-free loaf.  Le sigh.

So, I was excited to discover Jennifer Katzinger's Gluten-Free and Vegan Bread.  I ordered it right away.  Katzinger's basic baking theory is gluten-free bread does not need to rise like its glutinous counterpart.  Instead, these loaves rely on oven-rise to give them some spring and a lighter crumb.  I decided to make a loaf for an NDP dinner party for which I was providing a variety of baked goods.  This country batard seemed like it would be a crowd pleaser.  Here is the recipe, taken from the preview on Amazon.

Now, if you are a baker you might be wondering how you can bake a loaf for almost 2 hours at 425+ degrees and not have it turn into a burnt brick.  Well, the answer is you can't.  The first thing that struck me as I read through the recipes were the incredibly long baking times (as long as four hours!).  I was dubious, but plunged ahead.  After an hour things were smelling burnt so I removed the almost black loaf from the oven.  So, while I like how these loaves come together (some may question the amounts of tapioca and/or arrowroot), I am perplexed with how way off the baking times are.  Thankfully, she does say that a loaf that reaches 205 to 210 degrees is baked.  So, armed with my thermometer, I tinkered around and found the following baking times produced a pretty impressive loaf:
  1. 15 mins at 400.
  2. 15 mins at 350.  Rotate loaf in the oven then
  3. 15 mins at 350.

An hour less baking time?  Can that be right? Making the recipe a third time I accidentally added 1.5 cups of water.  It meant that I had to shape the loaf with extra flour, but the oven rise was better.  That is the loaf you see pictured above.  I also made the following changes:
  1. Ground the chia seeds.
  2. Used warm water for the yeast--I could not get it to activate in room temp water.
  3. Added the oil after the yeast had activated.
I also made the Soft Millet Sandwich Bread and the Quinoa Sandwich Bread.  Again, the baking times are a bit mysterious.  The two loaves are essentially the same ingredients and the same wet to dry ratio.  And yet, the Millet Bread is supposed to bake for 1 hour 45 mins, and the Quinoa Bread for 2 hours and 30 mins at 350.  I found that an hour sufficed. 

So in the end I am not sure what to make of this book.  The basic ideas seem good, but the recipes are unreliable. But, if you have some baking sense, the end product can be tasty and not too dense.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone for entering the Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! giveaway.  I really enjoyed reading all of the comments.  Some of you are new vegans, some have been at this for a while, some busy and in need of a quick meal, some with kids, some with vegan partners, or with non-vegan partners who need convincing, some are young, some more . . . mature.  It really is amazing to see the great diversity of the vegan community.  You are all hippie weirdos, of course, but each in your own way.

270 people entered the giveaway.  The random number generator spit out the number 61, so the winner is Kelsey Marcus who wrote, "Looks like a great book! I would love to learn about making "topless" sandwiches! ;)."  Congratulations, Kelsey!  Please email me at vegandadDOTblogspotATgmailDOTcom and I will get the book headed your way.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day Giveaway!

Hey kids!  It's a giveaway!

That's right!  You can win your very own copy of Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes' fabulous new cook book Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day!  I was first got acquainted with this project when Tami contacted me seeking permission to use the "steam, then bake" method of my veggie lunch meat.   I said yes, of course, since sharing recipes and methods is what the vegan blog community is all about (after all, the veggie lunch meat itself was a version of Julie Hasson's sausages).  So, there I am on p. 183 with a "huge thanks" from the authors (the nod to Julie Hasson is on the previous page).  I reviewed Tami's previous cookbook back in 2010, and I emailed back and forth with Celine back when I first started my blog.  So, every though we have never met in person, I feel like I am sharing in the great success of some good friends.

The first thing that strikes you about this book is the art.  Celine took all the photos and they are perfection.  Combined with Debbie Berne's book and cover design, the book is a visual feast.

As you can see from the table of contents, Celine and Tami have redefined what "sandwich" means.  Turns out, you can eat sandwiches for every meal of the day!  You could start with Berry-Stuffed French Toast Pockets for breakfast, eat a Ratatouille Sandwich for lunch, move on to Chickpea Shawarma for dinner, and end the day with Oreo Wafflewiches.  Yes, please!

The book also has the basics covered, from bread (I would have liked to see more recipes, but I know baking scares many people off), to several veggie meats.  Scattered throughout the book are various dressings, spreads, pates, and toppings.  There really is something for everyone here.

Residents of Canada and the U.S. only, please.
To enter, leave a comment about the book in the comment section below by 6:00 pm EST November 12.  One entry per person.  Each entry will be assigned a number, and the winner chosen by a random number generator.  Good luck!