Gluten-Free Sourdough Flat Bread

In my last blog post, I describe steps to successfully making and keeping a gluten-free IMG_3706sourdough starter. In this post, I’m offering a recipe that transforms  (or repurposes?) a failed sourdough bread dough into a triumph: a bread with such pleasing texture and amazing flavor that people will beg you to make it again and again, never suspecting that your pièce de résistance began as a culinary error. Although I hope that everyone who attempts to make a delicious boule of gluten-free sourdough bread does so successfully the very first time, the truth is that often that first loaf decides not to rise as it should. Hour after hour, you lift the cloth that covers the dough you so carefully nursed from its inception as just a mixture of gluten-free flour and water; hour after hour the dough seems to be the same size as when you last checked. Finally, after six hours or so, you realize that the dough is as tall as it’s going to grow, which is not tall at all. Continue reading

David Lebovitz, Deglutenized: Gluten-Free Chocolate Yeast Bread

Bread Series, #1:

Today’s scripture reading is apropos to my intent to write my first post, in a series, on IMG_3436baking gluten-free bread. These Biblical scriptures don’t resonate with everyone, for sure, but the significance of bread in relation to sustaining life, both physical and spiritual, is something to which most people can relate. Michael Pollan points out, in the Air episode of his documentary Cooked, that a person who has nothing else but flour and water can live for quite a while by combining them to make bread. In many cultures, people still make their bread from scratch every day, and bread is featured in every one of their meals. In these cultures, the art of bread-making is passed down through the generations: children part-take in the daily task of making bread for the family. These families enjoy delicious breads made with wholesome ingredients, as a major dietary stable

In the Western world, even though fewer people make their bread from scratch every day, and despite an increasing unpopularity of simple carbohydrates, bread is a major component of meals. Restaurants serve bread before meals. Biscuits, cornbread, and tortillas are major components of  every day meals, and yeast rolls are a regular feature of holiday and other special event meals. People literally break bread together at meals, reinforcing Michael Pollan’s point that bread is communal. As Pollan points out in his documentary, bread requires  a community effort, for it is a division of labor, from the planting and harvesting of wheat to the mixing of the dough and the baking of the bread. No doubt, from its central role in religious ceremonies to its presence on the dinner table, the production, baking, and eating of bread helps to form a community of people. A striking intangible beauty of multi-faceted human relationships arises from the formation of this bread-sharing community: a beauty that mostly goes unnoticed by people who are immersed in its culture. The existence of the community formed by the sharing of bread, however, becomes starkly visible to those people who suddenly find that the very strength of the bread, gluten, seriously threatens their health. Not only can they no longer enjoy the simple pleasure of bread, they find themselves marginalized from certain elements of society. Continue reading

Eating Gluten-Free: Tips for Avoiding the Danger of Cross-Contamination In Your Own Kitchen

“If the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.” (Dr. Samuel Gee, 1839-1911, among the first doctors to notegluten-free sign the importance of diet in managing Celiac Disease)

“Consuming small amounts of gluten — more than 50 milligrams, or about 1/70th of that slice of bread — on a daily basis also can add up to increased symptoms and intestinal damage.” (Jane Anderson, “How Much Gluten Can Make Me Sick?,” January 28, 2013)

The folks over at the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness have much to tell us about Celiac disease the month of May, which has been declared Celiac Awareness Month. People are increasingly aware of the disease, as well as the condition with similar symptoms known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS). This greater awareness has resulted in a greater number of gluten-free food products on grocery store shelves, as well as a greater number of gluten-free menus at restaurants. Though more people are aware of the danger that gluten presents to people who suffer from Celiac or NCGS, a large number of gluten-intolerant people continue to suffer without knowing the root of their distressing and serious physical discomfort. Additionally, a large number of people remain ignorant of what gluten is, and what foods contain gluten. Some of these people work in restaurants; others are friends, family members, and co-workers. Without the proper education concerning gluten, the foods that contain it, and its serious effect on people who suffer some form of gluten-intolerance, these well-meaning but undereducated people will remain a threat to those of us who have Celiac or NCGS. We will continue to be endangered by cross-contamination, or outright contamination until even more people understand gluten and gluten-intolerance. Continue reading

Super Sandwiches On Udi’s Gluten-Free Bagels

IMG_0541

”America is a confirmed sandwich nation. Everywhere you go you find sandwich stands, sandwich shops, and nine out of ten people seem to stick to the sandwich-and-glass-of-milk or cup-of-coffee luncheon.”
(James Beard, The Essential James Beard Cookbook)

“I don’t need music, lobster, or wine
Whenever your eyes look into mine;
The things I long for are simple and few
A cup of coffee, a sandwich, and you!”
(Billy Rose and Al Durbin, “A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich, and You”)

One’s diagnosis of Celiac brings about many changes in her life. I admit that when I first found out that I must live without gluten the rest of my life, I thought I had received somewhat of a death sentence: no more Krispe Kreme donuts and no more malted milk balls.I always viewed these two gastronomic delicacies (ok, an exaggerated description, perhaps) as a kind of fringe benefit to life.These treats are certainly not necessary for survival, but they do enhance life’s flavor, just as salt, pepper, butter, and cream enhance mashed potatoes.For people who live in a gluten-dependent culture such as ours (for many cultures have traditional diets that are naturally more gluten-free), one’s inability to tolerate gluten does bring about a finality akin to death. Continue reading