- Prep time 3 hours
- Cook time 35 minutes
- Serves 1 loaf (7" round by 4" high)
Perhaps obviously, one of the things diabetics try to do is replace bread. There are a ton of "low carb" options out there that use cheese, nut flours, and lots (and lots) of eggs. I've made a lot of them, tried a slice... toasted a slice... and threw them all away.
There has been an uptick in recipes that use a combination of stuff and just add pure vital wheat gluten as a main ingredient rather than an additive. Kind of brilliant in retrospect.
I came across the "Vegan Bread" recipe done by "Heavenly Fan" (who is a delight to watch, and just listen to).
She's really got it right in ways that are head and shoulders above the alternatives. She's stricter than necessary, in my view. She uses yeast to flavor but relies on the bit of carbs that are in the gluten (~ 15%) and the baking powder to get a rise.
If you believe in biochemistry, which I do, you can figure on feeding yeast a bit of sugar and more-of-less consuming it. I also learned about kneading the butter in by hand from the old Julia Child bread-making, so I used that instead of oil. I never tried it exactly "the fan's" way, but the result was.real.bread. Fresh or toasted. I consumed that first loaf in three days and simply wanted more... after a 6-year drought.
The high gluten bread is, well, glutenous. She used more gluten than almond flour. I've upped the ratio of almond flour to gluten, and I am still pushing it because it makes the bread breader!, and I added wheat bran along with the flax meal.
The loaf rises about 3-4x in 2 hours, so watch out for the size of the container; and the texture of the dough is firm and springy, and this translates (every time) into the bread. You get a really nice crust. I use a baking stone.
I have all sorts of plans for this dough.
Added notes: I'm tweaking this recipe and will update this recipe as I figure stuff out.
(1) I am now happy with the amounts of yeast, sugar, and water.
(2) I have not done the experiment, but I hypothesize that the sifting of the four dries (flour, gluten, powder, sugar) makes a huge difference because you get an intimate mixture that works well for the yeast.
(3) the almond flour to gluten ratio makes a big difference to the texture you get, the ratio in the recipe will always be the current best
(4) my first rise in the tweaked ratios is freaky fast and large, so (as described below) if the rise in the big bowl is fast and large, I punch and roll and do a second rise. If I don't get the big rise, I bake it right away. That's life in the kitchen.
Heavenly Fan used 175g vital wheat gluten plus 160g of almond flour plus 35g flax meal and a total of one cup of water. It's good, but definitely the gluten texture comes through.
My optimal ratio is 140g vital wheat gluten, 210g of almond flour, 35g flax meal and 35g of wheat bran. A half cup of water for the yeast sponge and another 3/4 cup of water when you make the bread. —Brian Coppola
vital wheat gluten
fine almond flour
wheat bran (fine)
room temp butter (4 T regular or I recommend a nice artisan 85% buttermilk butter
active dry yeast
warm (105 degree) water
- In a small bowl, make a yeast sponge. Add 1 T almond flour, 1 T wheat bran, 1 T sugar and 1 T yeast. Add 1/2 cup of warm water. Wish and cover with a plate or a cutting board. In about 20 minutes, you will have an excellent foaming mixture if your yeasts are healthy.
- Place a fine strainer over a large mixing bowl. Tare another bowl and weigh out the gluten (add it to the strainer), almond flour (add it to the strainer), and add the baking powder and 1.5 sugar to the strainer. Sift into the bowl. I think this step is absolutely needed to get a nice intimate mixing of the bit of carbs and sugar for the yeast to act on evenly;
- Weigh out the flax and bran and add them to the bowl of dry ingredients.
- Add the other 2 T of yeast. Mix with a wooden spoon.
- When the sponge is nice and foamy and fills the bowl, you are set to go. Add 3/4 c of warm water to the dry ingredients. Given them a quick mix, then add the sponge, all at once. Mix well.
- After combining roughly with a wooden spoon, switch to your hands. Blend well in the bowl, adding water to get a moist and coherent but not overly sticky dough. You got to go by feel on this one.
- Turn the dough out onto a clean surface. I use a large plastic cutting board (which will be important in a moment). Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. The high gluten content will be obvious; this is a springy dough.
- Set the dough aside for a moment and knead your butter, by hand, on your plastic work surface (I do not advise wood). When the butter is soften and you can move and scoop it, but it is not melted (this only takes a minute), then scoop it up in your hand, grab the dough, and knead the butter into it for another 3-4 minutes. Roll the dough into a tight ball, folding and pinching the under-seam.
- Lightly oil a large bowl (10-inch top diameter), roll the dough in the oil and place it seam-side down in the bowl.
- I half-cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and then a warm damp cloth and a thicker cloth wrap, then place it in a pre-warmed oven. Leave it. You get a real burst phase rise. In about 30 minutes, it has doubled. I punch it down, knead it for a few twists, then shape it into the final shape I want. I usually use a 2 quart bowl that is a little narrower and taller than the usual wide brim bowl. Here is the thing: if that first rise is going slow, then I might just leave it and not do the punch. Either way, you have finite fuel in there for the yeast. If you wait longer than the 30 minutes, you might not get much of a second rise. So there is a little decision to make each time.
- Pre-heat your oven with a baking stone for 1 hour at 350F. Heavenly Fan puts hers on a greased piece of parchment on a small baking tray. I've not done it that way.
- When the stone is pre-heated, sprinkle the surface with cornmeal. Unwrap the dough. Don't worry, it is not going to fall... just be gentle. Turn it over into your hand, the bottom side is now a lovely shape from being in the bowl and the surface is obviously airy. Place it round-side up on the stone.
- Bake for 35 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack. The loaf in my picture is 7" in diameter at the bottom and 4" high, shaped in the 2 QT mixing bowl.