Gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread

Today I tried out the basic yeast-free bread recipe from The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman, using the Four Flour Bean Mix described in my previous posting with the standard supermarket flours using in Indian cooking (Mustafa being the only supermarket I know that stocks them, though!).

The result was rather uneven: some parts did not rise much – the very smooth, close-textured parts – and other parts had huge air bubbles.

However, taste-wise and in terms of ‘mouth-feel’, I’m pleasantly surprised! The very green smell from the green bean flour disappeared after baking, and the bread was springy to the touch, much like real bread (despite the cake-like appearance). Actually, the texture reminds me very much of kueh lapis!

I tried it with a variety of savoury and sweet toppings as well as plain with butter, and it tasted fine every time. I couldn’t stop eating… how wonderful to be able to eat ‘bread’ and not be worrying about exceeding my wheat & gluten limit.

The recipe for a small loaf:

DRY INGREDIENTS

2 cups Four Flour Bean Mix : I used 1/3 part chickpea flour, 1/3 part green bean flour, 1/3 part sorghum flour, 1 part cornstarch, 1 part tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
3 Tbs brown sugar [which I reduced to 2 Tbs - still rather sweet]
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Egg Replacer [omitted; Hagman uses this to provided additional protein and leavening power]
1/2 tsp salt

WET INGREDIENTS

Eggs – 2 plus 1 white [I used 3 small whole eggs, also because I omitted the Egg Replacer]
2 Tbs melted butter [replaced with ghee as I was too lazy to melt butter!]
1 Tbs honey [replaced with light argave syrup]
3/4 cup buttermilk [used substitute]
approx 1/3 cup water [used much, much less]

[Hagman also uses optional dough enhancer, which I have omitted completely here.]

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease loaf pan(s) and dust lightly with rice flour.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg white(s). Add melted butter, honey and buttermilk. Blend with mixer on low speed.

Add dry ingredients and continue to blend on low speed.

Add ‘sufficient water to make the dough the consistency of cake batter.’ This was the hard part! What is the correct consistency? I’ve seen a whole range of consistencies of cake batters. Anyway, using my judgement, I only needed to add about a tablespoon of water. The batter was strange-looking because of all those sticky flours, the cornstarch and tapioca starch, not at all like cake batter.

Beat 1 minute on high.

Spoon into prepared pans and bake for 55 to 60 mins, covering with aluminum foil after 30 mins.

Problems

* The bread rose tremendously in the oven the collapsed afterwards, which suggests that I should reduce the amount of leavening agent next time.

* The texture was very uneven, it did not affect the taste, but certainly is less than ideal. Bette Hagman constantly gives strict instructions to follow recipes exactly as substituting ingredients may end up with a different result. As usual, I can never follow a recipe precisely so I guess I will have to keep experimenting.

* Hagman also suggests that overly dense texture might be due too much liquid, and from my experience with muffins (which is what this essentially is – a muffin method, dry + wet ingredients then mix) is that it could also be case of over-mixing. I might just make this by hand next time; the mixer is unecessary and might have contributed to the over-mixing.

Verdict

Whatever the problems, I was really pleased with the result. I fear the little test loaf in the freezer won’t last long at all. Am definitely making this again, and at double the quantity :).

Here are Hagman’s quantities for a large loaf:

DRY INGREDIENTS
Four Flour Bean Mix (see above) – 4 cups
Xantham gum – 3 tsp
Brown sugar – 1/3 cup
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Baking powder – 1 rounded tablespoon
Egg replacer – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

WET INGREDIENTS
Eggs – 3 plus 2 whites
Butter, melted – 6 Tbs
Honey – 2 Tbs
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
Water (more or less) – 1/2 cup

31/10/08 Update: experimented with this recipe a second time, making some tweaks and getting a much better result. Read more here: Improved recipe for gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread.

Beans: soaking and combating gas

I posted earlier on this subject, and today’s Sunday Times food question column written by Chris Tan provides some useful further information.

As I mentioned before, one way to get rid of gas caused by beans is to blanch the beans, followed by several hours of soaking with frequent changes of water. However, this may also cause a diminishing of flavour.

Chris Tan suggests that traditional methods of cooking beans may provide a solution to the gas problem:

Indian legume dishes almost always include a pinch of asafoetida, a garlicky-tasting powdered dried plant sap with a reputation for reducing flatulence. Mexican bean dishes call on epazote, a green herb, for the same reason. In Japan, cooks simmer beans with a piece of kombu or dried kelp, to help the beans soften and to nullify their gases. Of somewhat lesser fame are spices that combat gases, including cumin, fennel, caraway and ginger.

Only problem is, one might not want the taste of these herbs and spices in a sweet azuki bean dish!

But don’t worry, because gas from beans might not be a problem for everyone. Chris Tan goes on to say,

Anecdotal evidence says that people who eat beans frequently suffer less gas than occasional bean-eaters, perhaps because our intestinal microbe populations evolve to accommodate the situation.

Reverse imported food

Two interesting news articles in the last two days.

The first is about a well-known British-Indian chef, Manju Malhi, who intends to introduce to India, Indian’ dishes which are popular in Britain but unknown in India:

Malhi is shooting a television cooking show in New Delhi promoting British cuisine with an Indian twist, a combination she has dubbed Brit-Indi, and which has made her famous back in Britain.

Read more here.

The second piece of news is that sources of tuna are running low, causing a national sushi crisis in Japan. The solution for some is this:

Yamagata, 59, has been experimenting with more creative tuna alternatives at Miyakozushi, a restaurant catering to the business lunch crowd that has been in his family for four generations. He said his most successful substitutes were ideas he “reverse imported” from the United States, like smoked duck with mayonnaise and crushed daikon with sea urchin. He said he now made annual visits to sushi restaurants in New York and Washington for inspiration.

“We can learn from American sushi chefs,” Yamagata said. “Sushi has to evolve to keep up with the times.”

Food purists all over the world must be having heart attacks! But personally I do like chicken tikka and California rolls :).

Chindian cuisine

Inspired by my last posting on ethnic-cosmopolitan food, I’m going to put up a few entries on recent (non-local) examples of cross-cultural culinary interpretations that can be found in Singapore. This is quite aside from our own well-established forms of hybrid cusines, for example Straits Chinese/ nonya cooking, as well as Eurasian food, which reveal diverse influences adapted over centuries of settlement in Malaya.

Although I know quite a few Singaporean and Malaysian individuals who are of mixed Indian and Chinese background (not to mention prominent personalities singer Jacintha Abishiganadan, comedian Gurmit Singh, and former national sprinter Mona Kunalan) or Chindian for short, Chinese-Indian cuisine is something quite different. It is Chinese food adapted by the Chinese community in India to suit Indian tastes. The Indian Wok restaurant serves this kind of food.

Interestingly, now we even get Chindian food (which originates in India) adapted for Singaporean tastebuds. I take it this means that Singaporeans, of whatever ethnic background (including Indian), have developed distinctive likes & dislikes. There’s a rich story of about the layering & meeting of diasporas – historical and contemporary – from different parts of world (with a strong dash of colonial influence) in there.

Here’s a Straits Times review article on Chindian food in Singapore, which lists various restaurants and has some photos. And below is a restaurant review from TODAY.

TODAY
17 Oct 06

CLASSY CHINESE WITH AN INDIAN TOUCH
———————————–
From Kolkata, a centuries-old cross-cultural marriage takes root at Indian Wok

Amy Van
food@newstoday.com.sg
Where: 699 East Coast Road
Telephone: 6448 2003
Opening Hours: 11am to 3pm; 6pm to 10.30pm Daily

When I first heard about the newly opened Indian Wok restaurant in East Coast, I was curious to find out what it has to offer. Despite its name,Indian Wok doesn’t actually serve Indian fare but Chinese food adapted to the Indian palate.

This elegant restaurant is owned by Kobian, the same folk behind Bombay
Cafe, a trendy vegetarian cafe in Katong. Restaurant director Prabhakar,
who was originally from Bangalore, was an executive chef at the Singapore
Expo for about six years before he joined hands with Kobian’s owners to
start Indian Wok.

For the menu, Prabhakar teamed up with chef Binod Rai, previously from
Kolkata’s The Oberoi, to recreate a host of Indian-Chinese dishes that are
extremely popular in India.

According to Prabhakar, Indian-Chinese cuisine originated from Kolkata
after a group of Hakka people left China and settled in eastern India,
where they set up small Chinese restaurants hundreds of years ago.

This group of ethnic Han Chinese grew to enjoy the local Indian spices and
eventually incorporated these ingredients into their traditional Chinese
dishes.

The menu features a good selection of seafood, chicken, noodles and rice
dishes. A fitting start to the meal is the fried crab claws ($15), which
are cooked in sweet chilli sauce and herbs, and served with a piquant lime
and chilli dip. The shell is removed, making it a lot easier to eat.

Another lip-smacking starter is the salt-and-pepper prawns ($20): Prawns
stir-fried in an aromatic combination of capsicum, garlic, freshly-ground
black pepper and spring onions.

A recommended speciality is the pomfret Havoli ($18), a simple dish of
fresh fish slices cooked with oyster sauce.

Other than seafood, the five-spiced chicken ($12) is also deliciously
addictive. Pieces of diced chicken are marinated with five spices,
battered and deep-fried till crispy.

I also loved the dry Gobi Manchurian ($10), or crispy cauliflower
fritters, tossed with chilli, garlic and spring onions.

The classic Chinese hot-and-sour soup ($8) is available, too. This version
is flavoured with chilli oil, vinegar and light soya sauce, and brimming
with chicken, mushrooms, bamboo shoot and spring onions.

If you need your regular dose of carbs, the Szechuan fried rice ($8) is
fragrant and nicely enlivened with Szechuan chilli sauce. For something
less spicy, aim for Hakka noodles ($8) tossed with capsicum, spring onions
and bean sprouts.

Round off your meal with the “sizzling brownie” ($12), a dessert that is
neither Chinese nor Indian. The chocolate treat with walnuts is served on
a hot plate with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream. Children will love
this, but I personally root for the velvety masala-tea ice-cream ($8).

Overall, the meal was highly commendable, although a couple of dishes were
slightly over-salted. If that’s the case, do let the chefs know so the lev
el of spiciness and saltiness can be adjusted according to your
preference.

Indian Wok also offers a fine selection of wines to complement your meal.
Don’t forget to try the famous Thumbs Up, a fizzy soft drink that is a
perennial favourite in India.

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