Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It's the end

The end of the bread, that is.

Crusty bread is the holy grail, North Pole, the comfortable 4-inch heel, the low-calorie cheesecake (that doesn't taste like cottage cheese), the Design Within Reach that really is within reach of the gluten-free food world. I don't know if Shackleton or Hillary welcomed other explorers into their quests, but I certainly can't be . . . well . . . that picky. First, I don't have the patience. Second, I don't have million-dollar backers.

So I was glad to hear that a local company was taking a stab at the quandary of crusty gluten-free bread. The company's still nameless, but Lacy Gillham and Jan Taborsky gave JFG a loaf to try.

I'll be honest. That loaf, while a little less crumbly and stiff than most gluten-free bread and with slightly more taste, didn't really represent much of a break-through for the celiac world.

Then one Sunday afternoon, while we were napping, a second loaf came flying through Murray's doggy door and landed on the kitchen floor. An unconventional method of delivery, yes. But you know what? It was fairly crusty. It had a taste of its own, and it held together for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a little spongy, as bread should be and, while it still wasn't "tearable," I was able to feed JFG bread and Nutella for the first time in several years.

I would love to tell you what the bread is called and where to get it. I can't -- although from their promotional materials it looks like we can expect to see them at Salem Saturday Market sometime soon. I can post a couple of photos, left (as you can see, we've reached the end of the bread), and give you an email address: I'm not suggesting that evolution of gluten-free bread should stop -- this version is still pretty dense and, um, durable. But I can certainly respect and recommend a very worthy fellow traveler.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Utter failure

I admit it. After a fairly good run of focaccia and some decent raspberry brownies, I got a little ahead of myself and decided to try pita.

When JFG and I were first married, I learned how to make pita. I can't remember precisely why, but it seems like we made pita every week for months and months at a time. In fact, it's one of only two recipes I have completely memorized.

Last night, I tried to make Moosewood Cookbook (circa 1992) pita using Gluten-Free Creations Basic Flour Mix.

First of all, the dough didn't rise. Always a bad sign, especially when I'm using brand new yeast.

Second, it was as tough as old chewing gum -- the kind of dough that wears your arms out to roll. I actually abandoned rolling after a couple of goes and simply beat the dough to death with the palm of my hand.

Finally, it didn't puff up. Now, I can be flexible. I have often made un-puffy pitas by accident and simply announced that were having flatbread instead. Flatbread or pitas -- they're both really just sauce and meat vehicles anyway, hmmm?

But these were really flat. They had the consistency of dried-out, cracked old leather on the outside and were underbaked on the inside. JFG ate them anyway, bless him, but I think that's just because it was the only way to get the lamb and cucumber-dill sauce to his mouth.

Fear not! I have identified a new recipe and shall try again soon.