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Wheat free (but not GF) baking

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Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

Wheat free (but not GF) baking

About a month ago I stopped eating wheat. I do feel better, and the time or two that I've forgotten and slipped up - not so better. I am not avoiding other grains that have small amounts of gluten or anything.

I'm starting to miss bread. I used to bake bread that was about 50% wheat plus other grains, and it was fine by my standards, although it only had a moderate rise and not much of a crumb. I'd love a simple recipe for either loaf bread or a hamburger bun/sandwich roll. I don't expect it to be just like bread with wheat! Emphasis on simple, as I don't have a lot of spare cash to devote to experiments and only get to a town with real supermarkets and a whole food store maybe once a month. I'm going there in a couple of days, so it would be great to have a recipe or two in mind.

I'm also looking for a way to make some nice, elastic "flour" tortillas! (you may say I'm a dreamer...)

 

Thanks in advance!

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Kris,

I assume you are looking for wheat free recipes here?

The difficulty for you is that wheat is a unique grain.   Only wheat contains insoluble proteins which are able to form into chains and thus manifest elasticity.   Whilst other grains such as rye and barley do contain gluten, they do not have the same characteristics as wheat.

So if you want simplicity, you may have to seek out additives such as gums to help you along the way...also an expensive route!   Or you could investigate the joys and complexities of baking with rye sourdough.   Elastic non wheat tortillas, without additives.....     that's not going to happen, sorry.

Best wishes

Andy

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

Yeah, I'm aware of how special wheat is. sigh!

Have you anything good or bad to say about these gums?

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

Well, you could use some wheat free/ gluten free flour, and add the gluten back in with Vital Wheat Gluten. Technically, you'd be getting a tiny amount of wheat. But you'd be getting a large amount of gluten highly concentrated, so it wouldn't take much added to the recipe to do the trick. The VWG I have is 8g protein in every 12g of the powder. If you mixed 25g of that VWG for every 100g GF flour, you'd have about as much gluten as a decent white bread flour. A good loaf could possibly be made of maybe 400g GF flour, 300g water, 100g VWG, and half a packet of yeast. You could do the same with any flour you want to try to use, I guess. It stands to reason you may have to knead a little more to make sure all the gluten is well distributed and well developed throughout the loaf, since it isn't an integral part of the flour. Bake at maybe 350F to 375F for about 35 to 40 minutes for a soft pan loaf. Higher temp and steam for a crusty boule. If you really want a crusty boule, batard, or baguette, you should also use more water to make up for the higher heat.

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

Thanks, David. I think I'd rather avoid VWG, since it's a wheat product. I perhaps wasn't clear enough in my original post. I don't mind the small amounts of gluten which occur with other grains, but I think I'll stick with avoiding wheat products of all types for now, tempting though it is!

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

What sort of grains have you been able to eat? And how picky does your body seem to be about types of wheat? Does it seem to be solely triticum astivum that gives you trouble? Or do you also feel effects from spelt, emmer, kamut, etc.? I've known some people with wheat sensitivity (but not gluten intolerance) being able to handle non-common wheat varieties, and I wonder if that might be the case with you. It would certainly open up the possibilities if such is the case.

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

I really don't know the answer to this. I've been fine eating oats, barley, rye, maize and rice so far. I have never experimented with spelt, etc. but I'm willing to give it a shot.

I wasn't at death's door when I was eating wheat, and I don't feel thirty years younger now that I've stopped - just noticeably better. Since I'm dealing in gray areas, it will be difficult to measure! Maybe I'd feel even better if I cut out grain altogether, but I'd like to avoid that. Maybe eating primitive wheats like spelt will make me feel worse, but so subtly that I don't pick up on it. Ha!

What is the trade-off going to be? Do the types of grains you mentioned really improve my baking prospects? Even some kind of quick-bread would be a treat. Can you direct me to a couple of good recipes? Or alternatively, if i were to buy one or two ingredients this month to try, what might be most useful?

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Spelt is very closely related to common wheat; it's a little more delicate, but I'm sure you could make a nice quickbread from it with little or no adaptation, and I know I've seen 100% spelt loaves before.

I mention this one because in my experience, spelt is one of the easiest alternatives to find, and, I think, one of the most adaptable. I've not experimented with it a lot myself. I've mostly added it into other things containing wheat. You might try searching this site for 100% spelt breads and seeing if you can find a recipe that you feel comfortable trying

Most pasta, especially the dried kind in the supermarket, is made from durum wheat, which is also slightly different. Maybe you should try eating some pasta and seeing how you feel. If so, you can eat semolina, which you can also use to make bread.

Kamut, emmer, and einkorn are harder to find, especially in flour form. I'd recommend trying an online source if you want to try it.

Most of these things will have a performance more similar to common wheat, and therefore won't require the kind of adjustment that going gluten-free would. You might find that you need slightly more leavener, or need to handle things a little more gently, but it wouldn't be as much of a shift as depending on xantham gum and eggs all the time.

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

Thanks! I'm not sure that pasta does have the same effect on me as the things I make from "normal" wheat flour, and wholewheat seems to be the worst. I might try some pasta one evening and see.

I will buy a little spelt flour and play around with it, too.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

I'm not surprised about the whole wheat; it can be harder for the body to process, especially in the forms we usually encounter it in. Do you make/eat sourdough? Some people with wheat sensitivities have an easier time with naturally leavened breads since the yeasts and bacteria have basically done a bunch of the digestion for them, much how many lactose intolerant people are still able to eat yogurt.

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

Make sure the pasta you're eating is 100% semolina/durum wheat when you try it. Most dried pasta is, but if you're getting fresh stuff or eating at a restaurant that makes their own, they may be using part or all common wheat.

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

As a further thought which might spark some ideas - I have a few pounds each or barley, rye and buckwheat flour on hand. What could I make with any of it - other than bread I can't eat, because I combined it with wheat flours?

cerevisiae's picture
cerevisiae

100% rye breads exist, but they are different creatures from wheat breads. Maybe look at Mini Oven and dmsynder's blogs for thoughts on this.

I've done loaves with a lot of barley, but not 100%. Buckwheat can be nice for cakes, and is traditional in the crepes of Brittany.

So those are at least some places to start.

Sourdoughty's picture
Sourdoughty

The main breads I see in the wheat-free, but not gluten-free, category are spelt and 100% rye.

White spelt should do your rolls and tortillas. Just have to try it and see how you react. It's a lively flour with a quicker ruse than wheat, but it doesn't take so much structure in the shaping. Many wheat-free folk seem to prefer wholemeal spelt, but I wonder if this is because it looks and tastes more different from wheat than white spelt?

100% rye can be a big aggressively bland. There is the pumpernickel approach, soaked seeds and grains.,or rye Russian rye approach, using caraway seeds (nicest way of using caraway ever, imho).

Sorghum is gluten free. It makes spectacularly nice pizza bases used as the only flour, and I suspect might make great tortillas..

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

I eagerly picked up some spelt flour, and a loaf of wheat-free spelt bread back in May. The spelt bread didn't agree with me, so I haven't bothered to try the spelt flour. (It can go into hubby's bread.) Oddly durum wheat (pasta) seems to be just fine. Obviously, my problem is not with gluten, but with something else in some wheat. A couple of thoughtless slips over the past months seem to confirm this. At the moment I'm living on corn tortillas, rye crackers and Scottish style oatcakes. It's not a bad life but I could do with a burrito, and a sandwich!

Thanks for the sorghum idea - it's worth a try. Can you point me to your recipe for pizza dough?

 

Sourdoughty's picture
Sourdoughty

Barley makes great biscuits and pastry

Kris Hughes's picture
Kris Hughes

Not sure whether you mean biscuits in the US sense or the British sense? I've used it for a few things, as I love the taste. Pizza was a disaster...

Have you got any favourite recipes?

Sourdoughty's picture
Sourdoughty

Sorry I don't know what the US sense of biscuits is, so Britsh yes. What we have tended to do is mix 10-30% barley into other mixes. It gives biscuits and pastries a lovely cumbliness.

Kris - actually been using packets of pizza based mix from the supermarket. It only had 4 ingredients though, so going to try with the raw materials. Will check what they are and get back to you.

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I have a number of thoughts for you.

If you feel better avoiding wheat, then avoid wheat relatives (spelt,khorasan,semolina,durum,VWG,etc,etc).If you react to wheat, you will eventually react to these, if you don't immediately. Then you have just developed another reactionary state. Always best to avoid because that road leads to more bad things.

Your best source for wheat-free recipes are GF recipes/sites. It is easier to modify a recipe towards wheat/gluten than away. One of the best GF sandwich bread recipes I ever made was from Red Star Yeast website. I believe it was  Buttermilk Sandwich Bread.

As for flours: Try a premixed AP GF flour-Namaste, Hodgsen Mills, Bob's Red Mill (these are US based-I don't know where you are but there must be similar in the GF aisle. ) It is easier to start with. You can take the time to make your AP flour as you go-not hard at all but you sound like you need the products now.

As for gums: they are expensive to buy but you use such a little bit in each recipe. At some grocery stores they now sell xanthan gum in little packets like yeast comes in so you can buy just enough for your recipe and not break the bank.

Alternative to gums: psyllium-anywhere from whole to finely ground. It is also found (unflavored) in the medicine aisle as Metamucil. A small amount added is a substitute for xanthan gum and works very well.

Another alternative to gums: chia seed: Absorbs a huge amount of water (like xanthan gum and psyllium) and adds gumminess to dough. Even ground flax seed offers some of this property to a dough.

Remember what bread is: a matrix of starchy gel to trap bubbles so it is lightened (and not a brick), protein for chew and with wheat bread-gluten for trapping even more bubbles and allowing the dough to expand for additional lightness (or stretch as in tortilla wraps). GF/Wheat free bread is more sensitive to the balance between starchy gel and protein since it doesn't have gluten strands to hold it together but it can be done.Some starches offer a bit more stretch-tapioca starch comes to mind.

Last suggestion-search box here and google out there. There have been several Fresh Loaf bakers that have gone really far in developing GF (Wheat Free) bread and tortillas, if I'm not mistaken. I believe I have previously listed several websites with excellent info. Glutenfree on a shoestring, gluten free girl are 2 that I remember.

Good luck. GF can be delicious-as long as you are not expecting it to be just like wheat based. Judge the product on its own merits.

Different ingredients-different deliciousness!