Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dairy Free, Sugar Free and AWESOME French Bread

Here are a few tips on eating dairy and sugar free, and a recipe to go with them!

Dairy Free: “Moo”-re Choices than Ever!

If you are cooking foods needing milk, usually you can substitute plain (unflavoured) soy, almond or rice beverages in the same amounts as the milk required to give you similar results. In addition, there are many rice and soy “creamers” available to give your dishes (and coffee!) the similar taste and texture of dairy cream. There are also soy and rice “yogurts” available, as well as soy and rice "cheeses" - just be careful and read the ingredients to ensure they don't contain hidden dairy in the form of casein. Try experimenting with these to see which you prefer.
When baking, use dairy-free margarine, vegetable shortening or even light olive oil instead of butter to give you the taste and texture you are looking for. Again, experiment to see what you like best. A note: if using olive oil instead of hard fats (shortening or margarine), you may need to reduce the amount of dry ingredients slightly to ensure everything sticks together. You will also need to monitor the baking time to ensure nothing is over cooked. The taste of goods baked with quality olive oil, however, is worth the extra effort - just be sure you always use the best quality extra virgin or light olive oil that you can afford.

Sugar-Free: Still as Sweet as Ever

Those with diabetes or sugar sensitivities need not fear – you can still have sweet treats, you simply need to use different sweeteners. Consult your doctor or registered dietitian to get the recommended daily amounts of sugar for your diet, and use items like Xylitol, Stevia, rice syrup, agave nectar, or other sweeteners in your cooking, baking and drinks. A warning: too much use of artificial sweeteners (aspartame, etc.) has been shown to have negative side effects, so always try to stick with natural sweeteners. Again, ask your doctor or registered dietitian for current recommendations tailored to your individual needs.

Gluten Free French Bread
(Modified from Bette Hagman)
No milk and low sugar are no problem in this delicious bread. I have served it without telling people it’s gluten and dairy free, and they all asked for the recipe! Makes 2 medium loaves.

This is delicious and gluten free, dairy free, egg free, corn free, soy free, vegetarian and vegan!

2 cups plus 2 Tbsp Bread Flour Mix

2 tsp Instant Yeast
3 tsp Xanthan Gum

1 tsp Vinegar
1 ½ tsp Sugar

1 tsp Salt
1 ½ Cups Warm Water

2 tbsp Ground Flax seed whisked in 6 tbsp HOT water

Preheat oven to 400°.
Spray 2 French bread pans (NOT the perforated ones, you want your pans to be solid or your dough may leak through!) with olive oil spray, or fold aluminum foil in half, and curve to make 2 long, thin bread molds the length of a cookie sheet. Spray foil with olive oil spray and then place both lengthwise on a cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer (use the whisk attachment, not the dough attachment), combine flour, Xanthan gum, sugar, salt and yeast. Whisk to blend.
Add the flax seed/water mix, vinegar, yeast and water and beat at medium speed with a hand mixer or your stand mixer for 3 minutes, or whisk by hand for three minutes for a good workout!
Spoon dough into the molds, cover them, and let sit to rise in a warm environment for 15 minutes.
Bake for 1 hour. Turn oven down to 350°, and bake for an additional 15 minutes.
Eat it hot, you’ll have to tear it. It is great cool the next day, but the crust will get softer over time.
This is great sliced and used for garlic bread, or bruschetta, or diced and toasted for homemade croutons. It also makes great panini if you scoop out most of the inside.

Happy cooking!

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