As a person who has no food allergies, I think I take a lot for granted. Gluten, a composite of two proteins found in wheat flour, is the component that provides a lot of structure in many baked goods. It’s what traps the air that the yeast produces in bread dough to give you a lovely, light loaf.
So what happens if you can’t eat gluten?
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system reacts badly to gluten. The villi in the intestine – those little finger-like growths that help you absorb your nutrients – get stripped, leaving you potentially malnourished and inclined to future bowel disease, and in extreme cases, can lead to death. The only known cure for Coeliac disease is to eat a gluten free diet.
Many have called a good gluten free bread loaf the holy grail of Coeliacs. Many Coeliacs go undiagnosed till later in life, which means they have enjoyed all the gloriousness that gluten can provide, and now have to give it all up. Some have success to limited amounts, but that doesn’t stop them from trying!
Brasserie Bread – producer of artisan bread loaves and delicious pastries – has a gluten free baking class, providing you with methods and recipes for their version of the gluten free classics that we all know and love.
Chef Matt Brock was our trainer for the evening, and was really patient in explaining the ratios, reasons, and inspirations for his recipe. He has done countless experiments to get to this point, and from the sounds of it, he’s not done experimenting.
His recipes are a mix of traditional methods with new ingredients. He uses biga (pictured above) – a fermented dough, usually from a previous batch of bread – in his gluten free loaves as well. This traditional Italian method is used to add complexity and flavour in the final product, and here it’s no different. Matt simply takes out a portion of his dough before he bakes the rest of the loaf, and leaves it overnight in the fridge before adding it to a new dough batch the next day. And so on.
The bread dough for gluten free bread is often quite wet – quite like a batter. There is no kneading – there is no gluten to develop – but the mixture does utilise a mixture of starch and thickeners in order to trap as much air as possible, for a lighter end product.
End product aside, gluten free bread baking also has other limitations. Hand shaping, for example, which often relies on gluten to provide structure for shape retention, can’t really be used on gluten free bread dough, and a tin is almost always required. We did make a small corn focaccia in class that worked out quite well though – because of its flat shape, it held up quite well in the baking process.
I guess it’s important to remember that you can’t replicate the same textures and flavours from gluten in every product. Some products work better than others – shortcrust, for example, uses butter to prevent gluten formation for a better crumble, and so lends itself very well to gluten free recipes. Other products, like bread, often turn out dry, dense and crumbly.
Brasserie bread has definitely got a good direction in gluten free baking – the bread that night was moist and relatively light, even though it hasn’t quite reached that holy grail level of textures. They’ve very kindly provided this recipe for gluten free bread, as well as their gluten free flour mix!
- 170 g Organic Gluten Free Flour*
- 25 g Organic buckwheat flour
- 30g Organic besan flour
- 4g salt
- 4g Organic raw sugar
- 5g Fresh yeast **
- 40 ml Extra virgin olive oil
- 175ml Milk ***
- 80ml Water
- 3g Xanthan Gum
- 200g Biga ****
- Pre heat oven to 210*C
- Grease a 450gr loaf tin with oil then lightly dust with sesame seeds
- Sift gluten free flour buckwheat and besan flour together with Xanthum gum into large bowl and stir until well combined
- Dissolve yeast and sugar with a little warm milk
- Add this to the water, oil, remaining milk and mix until liquid is combined
- Add liquids to flour mix + biga and beat well until smooth using a wooden spoon
- Allow this mixture to ‘bulk ferment’ for at least 1hour, covered, in a warm place
- ‘Knock back’, remove 250 grams and place in a clean bowl, cover with cling wrap and refrigerate for later use (this will give you 250 grams of Biga)
- Spoon remaining mixture into the prepared loaf tin and level the surface of the dough
- Cover and allow to rest in a warm place until the dough reaches the top of the tin
- Bake for approx 25 minutes with injected steam for the first 3-4 seconds
- Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire cooling rack
- * Our Gluten Free flour is a mixture of Organic Rice (75%), Buckwheat (12.5%) and Millet (12.5%) flours
- ** Fresh yeast may be substituted with half the amount of dried yeast
- *** Milk may be substituted with Dairy Free Milk
- **** Biga is a natural fermenting piece of dough that is used to create flavour characteristics. This biga is taken out of the previous batch of dough, and kept in the fridge overnight.
If gluten free baking is not quite your thing, then there are plenty of other classes available at Brasserie Bread too! Their Free Kids’ Baking Classes on Saturdays are especially popular – these are often booked out 4 months in advance! They also have classes for just about every aspect of baking with doughs – from pastries to bread – and also hold school excursion tours where a whopping 800 kids walk through every month! If you’re interested in furthering your bread-ucation, you can view their class calendar here.
1737 Botany Rd Banksmeadow, NSW
Phone: 1300 966 845
I Ate My Way Through attended this class as guests of Brasserie Bread