September 11, 2009

Gluten-Free Quick Bread Round 1

Quick Bread 1

I was out at Bob's Red Mill yesterday to visit their store and do a bit of browsing for more flours. Somehow I managed to leave without the spelt and kamut flours that intrigued me, but I did get some interesting flours. I'm not gluten intolerant like some people, but I like producing excellent foods for anyone, so I decided to experiment with gluten-free quick bread using the quick bread ratio from Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio.

Ratio_ImageThe basic ratio for quick bread is 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part egg, and 1 part butter. Leavening is also required, of course, and for a sweet bread, some sweetener.

Quick Bread Batter (Sweet)
8 ounces flour
8 ounces liquid
4 ounces egg (2 large eggs)
4 ounces butter, melted
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder

Let's start with the baking powder. Assuming there are no extraneous ingredients, it's gluten-free. Hopefully it's also aluminum-free. I chose to make sure by making my own. The ratio for baking powder is 2 parts cream of tartar, 1 part baking soda, and 1 part cornstarch. The cornstarch is an optional addition to keep it dry and non-reactive prior to use. I left it out. If you plan to use a large amount within a short time-period, add the cornstarch and store in an air-tight container.

For the flour, I used 2 ounces of coconut flour and 3 ounces each of brown and white rice flours. Coconut flour is high in fiber and an excellent source of protein, making the bread more healthful. It also adds a bit of sweetness, but doesn't taste coconut-y. I also added a pinch of allspice, some freshly ground nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon of ground Vietnamese cassia (cinnamon). I used ¼ cup of sugar rather than the usual ½ cup because I expected plenty of sweetness from the apple juice and coconut butter I planned to use.

For the liquid, I used 4 ounces of apple juice and 4 ounces of milk. It would have worked just as well to use all apple juice, or any other fruit juice. For that matter, coconut milk would make an excellent substitution if you want to avoid dairy. To the milk and juice I added two large eggs and one very ripe banana and mixed everything thoroughly.

When you're making a quick bread, the general procedure is to whisk the dry ingredients together, then whisk the wet ingredients together, then mix the dry into the wet, adding nuts at that point. If you're working with coconut flour, be very careful to do a thorough job of whisking the dry ingredients together or you'll end up with lumps of coconut flour in the batter.

I poured the dry ingredients into the wet, mixed until the batter formed, then added toasted pecan pieces. The batter went into a buttered loaf pan, then into a pre-heated 350°F/180°C oven to bake for about 40-50 minutes.

About thirty minutes into baking, I took a peek and everything looked fine. That's when I noticed the bowl of melted butter sitting on the counter. Oops! I was supposed to have added melted butter to the liquids, but I forgot. Since this was an experimental quick bread I decided to just let it finish baking.

Quick Bread 2The texture of the bread is pretty good, although it's a bit more fragile than a similar bread made with wheat flour, and the crumb is finer, probably because of the rice flours. It's also lighter than the last batch of banana bread I made, almost certainly because it's quite low in fat. The only fats in this bread are those found in the eggs and milk. So, here's the recipe for what I made.

Gluten-Free Banana Bread
2 ounces coconut flour
3 ounces white rice flour
3 ounces brown rice flour
¼ cup sugar
pinch allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
freshly ground nutmeg to taste
4 ounces apple juice
4 ounces whole milk
4 ounces egg (2 large eggs)

I'm not satisfied yet, which is why this is Round 1. I want to refine this until I have a satisfactory basic quick bread that a gluten-intolerant vegan can love, but that no one else realizes is gluten-free and vegan!


  1. interesting! So was it very dry at all? I have the Ratio book, but I've pretty much ignored the breads part since going gluten-free because when doing gluten-free baking, things that are "normal" in regular baking aren't normal when baking gluten-free. Most of my bread doughs I've made so far (which aren't many) are much runnier than the floury equivalent. Maybe I don't have to give up on the ratio'll have to keep me up-to-date on future rounds!

  2. Wow! Your break looks amazing! Thank you for sharing the quick bread ratio... now I'll have to experiment as well!

  3. Thanks for the kind comments. It wasn't dry, although it wasn't as moist as I had originally hoped it would be. I'm pretty sure the coconut flour kept the dough less runny, and had I used applesauce in place of the butter, or simply remembered to put the butter into the mix, I'm pretty sure it would have been quite moist and rich.

    I will definitely continue to experiment. As I said, I want to be confident feeding anyone, and many people have issues with glutens.

  4. Bread looks great. I have also in the past been experimenting with gluten free baking as my friend has a gluten intolerance, and of course it adds a challenge to baking. I think I will try and make a version of your recipe and Veganize it.

    Will let you know how it turns out.

  5. Intriguing! I'm also not gluten-intolerant, but am out to try new things. I look forward to Round 2 and so on of your experiments!

  6. I'd be very interested in what you use as an egg substitute, and your opinion of the result. Then I'll try a different egg substitute so we can compare. Please make sure you send me a link to your vegan version. Thanks!

  7. Once you determine the basic ingredients (flour, liquid, egg, butter, sugar and leavening in the case of your quick bread), how do you determine how much of the other ingredients to add (banana, spices etc.)?

  8. Spices by taste, but gently, because you can't remove them once they're in there. Fruits tend to add liquid, so other liquids need to be adjusted. It's just something you get a feel for after you've made a few dozen loaves by recipe. If I'm adding bananas, I'll want to compensate by using coconut flour to absorb some of the liquid. If you don't adjust for the fruit you'll end up with a bread that can be extra moist or even look and taste underdone. Experiment and take notes. That's what I do, and that's what others do as well.

  9. Oh, thank you very much for sharing this wonderful gluten-free bread recipe! lol Thanks a lot! My wife is looking for other recipes that might help us out.