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.

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Chye tau kueh (fried savoury radish cake)

Recently, some friends gobbled down two plates of chye tau kueh from the hawker centre in front of me whilst I munched on my gluten-free carob muffin. They felt a bit guilty comparing their fried dish with my healthy snack but actually I really wished I could eat chye tau kueh too!

I came home and flipped through my mountain of cookbooks and finally found a somewhat poorly-written recipe for ‘Singapore-Styled Stir-Fried Turnip Pudding 星洲炒蘿蔔糕’ in a Hong Kong produced cookbook called Asian Snacks Cooking Course 亞洲小食製作教程.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a more authentic recipe in any of my Malaysian cookbooks (an excuse to buy even more :) ?!?). Anyway, it worked really well so am sharing here with you. You may want to compare this recipe with the one from Lily’s Wai Sek Hong.

This is a great snack option that’s wheat- and gluten-free, also no sugar. As long as you don’t find fried foods too unhealthy :).

INGREDIENTS FOR STEAMED RADISH CAKE

960g white radish/daikon
320g rice flour

Wash, peel and chop the daikon.

Use a blender to puree it, then using a sieve, squeeze out as much juice as possible. You need 3 cups of daikon juice.

Mix rice flour with daikon juice in a pot over low heat. The original recipe only uses the juice, but I put in all the daikon pulp as well so as not to waste it.

Stir until it the mixture thickens. This part requires careful attention as it can take quite a while to thicken on low heat but if the stove is too hot, it will clump together very quickly.

Pour the thickened batter into a greased mould, such as an aluminium cake tin. A 9-inch round tin is actually better than the one I used in the photo because it won’t be so full, and because the cake won’t be in such a thick layer, it will take a shorter time to be fully cook. Dark-coloured heavy cake tins are not good for steaming, they don’t seem to conduct heat very well.

Steam for 1 hour. Test for doneness with a chopstick, which should come out clean.


FRIED RADISH CAKE

Cut the steamed and cooled cake into cubes.

Fry ingredients of your choice until fragrant, such as garlic, shallots, minced meat, red or green chilli, spring onions. Add seasonings of your choice.  Traditionally, this is cooked with thick dark soya sauce and preserved turnip and preserved Chinese sausages are a must, with a special chilli sauce for those who like it spicy.

Add the steamed radish cake cubes and fry until browned.

Push ingredients to one side of the wok (or remove from pan), add a beaten egg and when semi-cooked, toss well with all the other ingredients.

My version shown below is cooked with salt (or organic tamari), garlic, stir-fried shallots, green and red capsicums, and topped with raw spring onions and deep fried shallots.

Verdict: close enough to the real thing to keep me happy! Loved the distinct daikon taste in the cake. Now if I can just figure out how to make preserved turnip or chye poh at home, the other members of the family might actually enjoy this as much as me :).

Nearly 1kg of daikon makes a lot of chye tau kueh and I had this in my lunch bento for days!! Next time I’ll only make half the quantity!

Steamed radish cake 蘿蔔糕

radish-lot-bak-gou-4501.jpg

Ever since I started experimenting with different foods in an attempt at food rotation, I’ve been thinking of cooking this dish. It’s made from Chinese white radish, also known as daikon (and most confusingly, can be called ‘carrot’ when translated into English, as I’ve noted here).

What held me up was trying to think of substitutes for the usual preserved meats and dried products that usually go into this dish: laap cheong Chinese sausages, laap yok waxed pork, dried shrimps, dried mushrooms. Without the seasoning of oyster sauce, soya sauce and sugar, and no flavourful ingredients I wasn’t sure how this dish would work at all.

In the end I just went ahead and made it absolutely plain and believe it or not, it was absolutely delicious! There are no fillings in this lor bak gou at all, and no seasoning apart from a tiny pinch of salt, but the familiar taste is unmistakably that of lor bak gou .

Everything is in the additional toppings which can be adjusted to suit individual taste, so those family members who want to load up on laap cheong and bottled chilli sauce can do so as well, leaving the rest of us to enjoy this in a more simple fashion.

The toppings shown in the photo are chopped spring onion, homemade fried shallots, sesame seed furikake and sesame oil — my favourite way to garnish this basic lor bak gou.

This dish is suitable for bento, and the toppings can be packed into dedicated bento condiments containers, or even just wrapped up in folded aluminium foil. Personally, I prefer to eat lor bak gou warm and I didn’t try it in any bento this time round.

When I compared different recipes, the interesting thing was that they all used a different combination of flours in very different quantities. For example, for approx. 600g of radish:
a) 450g rice flour + 50g tapioca flour
b) 1400g rice flour + 80g tapioca flour
c) 450g rice flour + 1.5 Tbs corn flour + 1.5 Tbs wheat starch
d) 280g rice flour + 40g cornflour
e) 200g rice flour + 40g wheat starch
f) 150g rice flour

[To find out more about these types of flours, have a look at my info page on flours for Chinese & Japanese snacks.]

I decided to go with the quantities in what appears to be the most reliable of my cookbooks, Dim Sum by Chan Chen Hei, a renown chef who’s worked at top restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong and Singapore. The method was adapted from combining instructions in various cookbooks.
Ingredients

500g-600g white radish
200g rice flour
40g wheat starch
1 litre water
salt to taste

1) Peel and shred the radish (using a ceramic peeler and ceramic julienne slicer, if you have them ^_^). You can also chop the radish into strips, it’s said that these larger chunks give a better texture to the final dish.

2) Mix the flours with just enough water to form a smooth, liquid paste.

3) Pour the remaining water into a pot, put in the radish, season with salt to taste, bring to the boil and cook until it has turned transparent and soft.

4) Reduce the heat to low or turn off the heat completely and stir in the flour mixture. Combine thoroughly until thick and sticky.

5) Grease a container to hold the radish batter for steaming. If you wish, you can line the container with cling film to make it easier to remove the cooked radish cake intact. You can use any dish suitable for steaming, or even a disposable aluminium cake tin (cling film not needed, because you can transport, store and serve the radish cake in it, no need to remove the cooked product from the container) . In my experience, try to avoid anything that’s too thick and heavy or which does not conduct heat well.

6) Pour in radish mixture and smoothen the top. Preheat the steamer and steam on high heat for at least 30 minutes. It could take as long as 1hr, depending in the quantity and shape of the radish cake. Test the middle with skewer or chopstick; if it doesn’t stick, the dish is done.

There will be a watery liquid on the surface. Just leave it as it will be absorbed as the radish cake cools and prevents the surface from becoming dried out and cracked.

7) As the cake cools, it will firm up. You can then slice, garnish and serve.

Optionally, you can pan fry the slices until brown and fragrant, then garnish and serve.

Personally, I think this tastes best when hot. I kept it in the fridge and heated it up before eating. However, I found that it did not microwave very well. The outer edges would be hot and the centre still hard and cold, so I ended up having to reheat by steaming. Which isn’t really a bad thing since we should try to avoid the additional EMF exposure from microwaves — not to mention the questionable effect eating microwaved food (read more here and here), if we weren’t already so addicted to their convenience.

We have an electric stove at home, and it’s slower to heat up and cool down than a gas stove. My personal method to speed up the steaming/boiling is as follows:
1) Boil sufficient water for steaming in the kettle.
2) Whilst the kettle is boiling, heat up the pot on the stove by putting just enough water to cover the base.
3) When kettle has boiled, pour contents into the pot, which should be at boiling point by now.
4) Invest in good quality pots as the heat conduction is noticeably superior and the contents will boil faster.

16/4/08 Update: Just found this video of a cooking show demonstrating how to make traditional Hong Kong-style steamed radish cake, which is characterised by Chinese sausages (in Taiwanese dialect with Chinese subtitles).

13/6/08 Update: see also my steamed Chinese yam cake.

Buckwheat pancakes with red bean paste

Buckwheat red bean pancakes

As I wrote earlier, using buckwheat is one way to rotate foods and keep food intolerance reactions at bay. With a 1kg bag of buckwheat flour to use up, I made some more pancakes today. I was inspired to make these red bean rolls from photos of various wagashi in the recipe books I have.

I found the all-buckwheat pancakes the last time a bit too brittle in texture and deduced that this was because of the low gluten content of buckwheat. So instead of simply mixing it with plain all-purpose flour, I chose bread flour which has a higher percentage of gluten, and thus I figured would produce a more pliable pancake.

Pancakes

3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/4 cup plain bread flour/high-gluten flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
approx. 320ml soya milk [or any other kind of milk]
2 tsp melted butter

Mix flours & baking powder together.

Mix beaten egg into flour, then add milk a bit at a time until consistency of pouring cream is reached.

Beat in the melted butter.

I cooked the pancakes in a 10cm blini pan on medium-high heat. Low heat means that they are in the pan longer and a hard surface develops, whereas I wanted soft pancakes that could be rolled.

Red Bean Filling

There are clear instructions from Just Hungry – but leave out the salt and sugar and if you are short of time, there’s no need for overnight (or any) soaking, although soaking will shorten the cooking time and save electricity/gas. Like 日式和菓子, one of my wagashi recipe books from Hong Kong, Just Hungry tells us to boil the beans quickly once, throw away the water then boil again.

As I already had cooked red beans in the fridge from the day before, I simply put some in a skillet and gently stirred it around over low heat with sugar added to taste (which can be omitted if so desired). This dries out the cooked beans to make it into a paste and you can mash the beans up at the same time. Don’t overcook or it will get too dry and have crispy bits forming – at the crispy stage, it will have become the equivalent of Mexican refried beans (inspiration for a whole new dish ^_^?)!

If the red bean paste is too crumbly and not sticking together, mix in oil till you get a nice paste consistency. I used cold-pressed organic safflower oil but it imparted a distinct taste when I compared it with the oil-free red beans; although I didn’t notice the safflower oil taste when I ate the dish later in the day. So remember to use a flavourless oil, or choose one that will enhance the dish. Coconut oil might be worth a try, but can be overpowering so best to mix with another oil. Butter would probably be good. I’ve heard that the reason red bean paste in Chinese restaurants and food stalls tastes so good is because lard is used :).

Finally, spoon some red bean paste in the middle of a pancake and roll it up!

Leftover pancakes can be frozen (with paper or cling film in between the pancakes) and I usually leave my cooked red bean in the fridge, where it soon disappears into many different dishes.

I put a couple in today’s snack bento, but they fell apart and also weren’t that nice cold. I popped them into the microwave and yumminess was soon restored (^_^)!

9/2/08 update: In my second attempt to put these into a bento, I deconstructed the pancakes & filling as illustrated below. It worked much better this way.

bento buckwheat pancakes redbean 400

Chewy pumpkin cake 南瓜餅

Project no. 2 in learning how to use alternative flours and different carbohydrates as part of food rotation to deal with food intolerances.

After the unsuccessful shredded yam cake, I tried out this Chewy Pumpkin Cake (Lam Gua Paeng 南瓜餅) which used mainly glutinous rice flour, which I’d already got plenty of practice with making glutinous rice balls, and wheat starch, which I was keen to try out for the first time.

Chewy Pumpkin Cake

The recipe is from Dim Sum by Chan Chen Hei, the same recipe book I got the shredded yam cake recipe from. Again I did some major adaptation of the recipe. The original has a filling of desiccated coconut, sugared melon strips, ground peanuts, white sesame seeds and sugar, but I decided to make mine without any filling.

Ingredients for the chewy pumpkin dough:

pumpkin flesh – 150g, steamed & mashed
glutinous rice flour – 150g
wheat starch flour – 55g
sugar – 20g (reduced from original 75g given in recipe book)
water

sesame seeds for coating

Started by combining the dry ingredients thoroughly, then adding enough water to form a pliable dough. The texture was different from the glutinous rice balls, not so powdery. The wheat starch gives the dough a glossy sheen when cooked (it is also what helps to produce the translucent skin for har gow prawn dumplings).

I then cut the dough into 25 portions, using the same method as with the glutinous rice balls: rolling the dough into a cylinder which I divided into five sections, then rolled out each of those sections and cut into five pieces again (with the help of my cutting sheet with measurements). After shaping the pieces into round balls, I flattened each of them.

The next step was to steam the cakes for 3 minutes (I didn’t time, just checked the colour through the glass lid of my wok). I forgot to oil the steaming plate first, and it was hard to peel the chewy pumpkin cakes off the plate when they were done!

According to this information, when it comes to glutinous rice flour, steaming creates a chewy texture and boiling a softer texture. The glutinous rice balls I have been making are all cooked by boiling.

The instructions say to let the pumpkin cakes cool before coating in sesame seeds. I found that they were more sticky when hot, allowing more seeds to stay stuck on.

I then ended up making with two versions:
1) Pumpkin cakes coated in unroasted sesame seeds then pan-fried, as directed in the original recipe (photo below). Stored unfried pieces in the fridge, to be fried only at the time of eating. Frying gives the cakes a crispy exterior. Bearing in mind the horrible results from using too little oil to fry my shredded yam cakes, I shallow fried the pumpkin cakes in about 0.5cm depth of virgin coconut oil. This was my first time using coconut oil, and it added a very fragrant overtone. (Read the current thinking on health and coconut oil here.)

2) Pumpkin cakes coated in pre-roasted sesame seeds (photo above). Fragrant and chewy — delicious. Stored leftovers in fridge and reheated in microwave when I wanted to eat. This version is less oily of course and just as delicious.

Chewy Pumpkin Cake Fried

Verdict: super-easy to make & tastes excellent! (^_^)

Chinese shredded yam cake 芋絲餅

This was the first of my attempts at learning how to make Asian snacks as a way of rotating foods and reducing consumption of wheat flour, as Canton Pixie suggested in the comments here.

Shredded yam cake

This recipe from a Dim Sum cookbook was attractive because I already had the ingredients at home and the instructions seemed very straightforward. In the book it’s called Fried Shredded Yam, or Wu Xi Paeng 芋絲餅 in Cantonese. The original recipe calls for

shredded yam – 800g
minced pork – 150g
cornflour – 75g
salt – 55g
sugar – 55g [can omit]
five spice powder – a pinch
sesame oil – a dash
water
cooking oil

I decided to leave out the pork to make it less of a heavy, savoury dish. And that was the start of my cooking disaster!! I forgot that I would need to reduce the amount of cornflour to accommodate the omission of 150g of minced pork. The result was a rather hard and unpalatable cake.

I also halved the amount of sugar (which I plan to completely omit next time, I didn’t feel it contributed to the taste) and put in about a fifth of the amount of salt, which was just nice.

The preparation method involves mixing the main ingredients together, and adding just enough water to bind the mixture together. Spread thinly in a baking tin and steam over boiling water for 25 minutes.

My steaming also didn’t go so well and took ages. I think it was because I used a pot into which the round cake tin I used fit just exactly, so there wasn’t much room for the steam to circulate around and above the yam cake.

In the final step, the recipe says to let the steamed cake cool down, cut into pieces, then pan-fry until ‘crisp and fragrant’. You can see the result in the photo above – it tasted dry and hard on the outside, rather than crisp, possibly because I didn’t use enough oil. For subsequent pieces, I decided not to fry the yam cake at all (which also means less oil).

Verdict: try again!! *sigh*