Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gluten-Free Herbed Cheese Bread

The snow is piled up to the window sill after the storm last week (and the Science Teacher still didn't have a snow day!) and the forecast calls for the temperature to sink to 10 or 20 below night. We're hunkered down with cups of coffee, Car Talk, and the blessed quiet of the Little Pottamus's nap time. What better time to bake a loaf of bread?

Yeasted bread has become less and less a part of my life since I gave up gluten. I don't eat sandwiches anymore, and when I want something on which to spread my nut butter for breakfast, I'm happy with a rice cake or corn thin or slice of gluten-free frozen bread. In the beginning, I spent quite a bit of time trying out various gluten-free mixes and invariably ended up eating something that tasted like cornstarch. Dislike really doesn't describe my feelings toward the taste of cornstarch.

Quick breads, on the other hand, I make far more than I used to. Pre-celiac, I wouldn't really have considered quick bread "bread." Corn bread, ok, and maybe the beer bread from Joy of Cooking, but otherwise I thought of quick bread as dessert. Now a warm quick bread with a bowl of soup takes me back to the days when I took for granted the luxury of cleaning that bowl with a crust of bread. Bread is less a set of ingredients than a state of mind.

I've been wanting to try a gluten-free version of Herbed Cheese Quick Bread from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special for some time. One reason that I prefer quick breads to yeasted breads is that they need no refined starches or flours to make them taste good. I have yet to discover any good yeasted bread recipe that isn't at least one-quarter starch. I would also say that I haven't decided for myself how much starch is too much, an attitude that gets in the way of my yeasted bread enjoyment. What is your attitude towards starch? I'd love to hear what other people think. In any case, here's a yummy starch-free recipe, perfect for the upcoming football "holiday." If you like this one, you might want to try my Brown Bread recipe.

Gluten-Free Herbed Cheese Bread (adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special)

2 c. of gluten-free flour (I used 1/2 c. brown rice, 1/2 c. sorghum, 1/2 c. teff, and 1/2 c. GF oat flours)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. xanthum gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1/3 c. fresh, chopped scallions or chives
1/2 tsp. fresh, chopped thyme (1/4 tsp. dried)
1 1/2 c. crumbled (not shredded) sharp cheddar cheese (low-fat cheese works fine)
1 lightly beaten egg
1 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 375 and oil a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Combine the flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt, and stir well. Add the herbs and cheese, and mix. Combine the egg and milk in a bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir to mix. Pour batter into the loaf pan. Bake for 45 min to an hour or more. Don't underbake quick breads! Just keep checking it until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

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