Sunday, August 30, 2015

Daring Bakers August 2015 Challenge: Gluten-Free Seed and Nut Loaf

For the August challenge, Susan from The Kiwi Cook dared us to make Seed & Nut Loaf – a super-healthy and gluten-free alternative to standard wheat-based bread. Apart from the previous Daring Cooks challenge, I have next to no experience with gluten-free cooking, so it was a new and educational experience for me. The ingredient list meant a trip to the city, although I suspect that one or two of the local bulk and health food stores might have carried them too.
There's a lot of waiting time with this recipe, and the reviews I read mentioned that the waiting time is what 'sets' the loaf so it isn't so very crumbly, so I decided to stick to the recipe.

First, I lined a loaf pan with parchment paper and sprayed it with canola oil.

I assembled the wet and dry ingredients separately. In the first bowl:
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1-1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 4 tbsp psyllium seed husks
  • 1 tsp fine grain sea salt
And then the wet ingredients. May I just say, coconut oil makes a slodge of soggy look beautiful!
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1-1/2 cups water
I went easy on the water, thinking I could add more later if the mixture were too dry.
I was glad of that when it came time to mix the wet and dry ingredients together, as the mixture was very wet. I patted it into the loaf pan, covered it with plastic wrap, and let it sit on the counter for 2 hours. I've been into Masterchef Australia lately, so that gave me time to a watch a couple episodes.
Towards the end of the 2 hours, I preheated the oven to 350F, took the plastic wrap off, and popped it into the oven. This is a twice-baked loaf, so after 20 minutes I took it out, inverted the bread onto a wire rack, and baked it for another 30-40 minutes.
I was worried that the whole thing would disintegrate on the rack, but - thankfully - it held! I had to go digging for this wire rack, since my most-accessible ones are coated and I wasn't sure they would enjoy the oven's heat.
It's a small but nice thing: there's no need to turn it out again. You just yoink the loaf from the oven and wait. And wait.
And wait.
That second bake toasted the loaf and that wonderful nutty aroma wisped out of the oven, making me want to dig in immediately! But according to the recipe, waiting until it cools completely helps prevent disintigration, so that's what I did.
I might try to spread this mixture on a cookie sheet next time, since the ingredients remind me a bit of granola bars. The crust had good crunch to it, and the centre was soft, almost too soft for me. I think my original mixture could've used a quarter cup less water. I'm also not entirely sold on the flavour. A few spices might've changed it up for the better. However, I think it's really meant to be used like bread, in which case, adding flavour via toppings makes the non-distinctive flavour a plus. 

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