Thursday, November 29, 2007
New England Comfort Food….with Gluten-Free Brown Bread
Comfort food in my family is country food: biscuits, pepper-flecked milk gravy, thin-slices of salty country ham. If a snowstorm closed school, I could count on a biscuits-and-gravy breakfast before heading out to stomp out a sled track down the hill behind my house. Comfort food is warm; comfort food is soft; and as much as I love vegetables, comfort food rarely entails anything green.
Not being a native New Englander, I have to take the authors’ word for it when my cookbook mentions classic New England comfort food. But when it’s written about baked beans and bread, I’m inclined to believe them. Baked beans were church-supper staples growing up; they are definitely warm and soft, not to mention cheap and easy to prepare (with a few sliced-up hot dogs, anyone?). I didn’t grow up eating brown bread with my beans, but I read about it. For those of you who read Caddie Woodlawn as kids, remember that her Bostonian mom cooks pans of beans and steamed brown bread for Sunday dinners.
Though I’ve been making a dinner of simmered beans, sweet brown bread, and applesauce since before I stopped eating gluten, I’ve only attempted converting the bread to gluten-free twice. The first time, the result was acceptable but a little dry, so I decided to give it another whirl.
Two-thirds of the dinner was easy. I stewed a pot of navy beans (canned for a quickie dinner) in mustard, maple syrup, and gluten-free barbeque sauce (I use Annie’s). I was also inspired to make apple-quince sauce after reading Gluten-Free Bay’s quince-apple pie recipe and then actually finding quinces in my local co-op. If you haven’t tried them and you’re lucky enough to come across them in the grocery store, definitely give them a try. You do have to peel quinces and they are fairly sour, but they add new flavors to regular apple dishes and are great stewed or in jam.
The brown bread is basically a quick bread, rather than the classic brown bread that is steamed for several hours. The original recipe calls for equals parts cornmeal, rye flour, and white flour. I kept the cornmeal, replaced one part with sorghum flour (my baking flour of choice), and combined teff flour and some Pamela’s mix for the remaining part. Teff and molasses add a nice, dark color. For more moisture, I replaced some of the buttermilk in the original recipe with canned pumpkin.
The Science Teacher gave the bread three thumbs up for taste, moisture, and non-crumbliness! Give it a try on the next rainy or snowy night with your favorite baked beans recipe. It really tastes great! It’s a last-minute dinner bread—just start it baking before making the beans or the applesauce.
Gluten-Free Brown Bread (adapted from “Brown Bread” in the Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites)
This recipe makes one 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan.
½ cup cornmeal
½ cup sorghum flour
¼ cup teff flour
¼ cup GF flour mix
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup raisins
1 tsp. xanthum gum
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ cup molasses
½ cup canned pumpkin
about ½ cup milk (any kind)
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease one 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan.
Combine all of the dry ingredients, including the raisins, in a large bowl. Add the molasses, pumpkin, and milk and stir until a batter forms. You may need to add a little more milk to obtain a batter-like consistency.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 40-45 min., until the loaf is firm and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Cool the bread in the pan for 15 min. before removing from the pan and serving.