Bread is the stuff of life, but for some of us it’s a challenge. Here’s how you can have your bread and eat it too.
Some of us are challenged by certain breads. It’s not just about gluten-free which we have covered in previous articles, but the affects of carbohydrates. It’s about ingredients that are inconsistent with a vegan diet such as eggs, milk, and butter; the need for added fiber with ingredients like oatmeal or whole grains, and alternative rising methods like sourdough. Bread in and of itself is a nutritious addition to any diet, but for those times or tastes where a standard recipe won’t do, here are some alternative approaches to satisfy most needs.
Low Carb Bread
It’s a fact, most breads are very high in carbohydrates and often those carbohydrates are simple carbohydrates like bleached all-purpose flour and bread flour, refined sugar and other ingredients that add to the carbo-load. If your diet restricts your intake of carbohydrates there are some alternatives you should consider.
One obvious step is the elimination of sugars to the recipe. There is also an emphasis on whole grains like wheat, rye or barley which by their nature are lower in carbohydrates. It’s functionally impossible to make a carbohydrate-free bread. There are some recipes on the Internet that claim to be carb-free but they depend heavily on egg whites and cream of tartar to make small loaves that represent curious cookies more so than bread. Inevitably, any flour including gluten-free flours like rice flour have carbohydrates to varying degrees. However, you can reduce the carbs and incorporate more of the complex carbohydrates if you are selective about your ingredients.
Low-Carb Wheat Bread Recipe:
Makes a 1 pound loaf
- 1⁄2cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons sugar substitute like Splenda
- 1⁄3 cup ground flax seeds
- 1⁄4 cup soy flour
- 3⁄4 cup wheat flour
- 1teaspoon dried yeast
Select Wheat cycle; 1 pound loaf and combine ingredients according to order indicated in recipe. Select light brown crust.
Vegans pursue a strict and highly disciplined diet. At its foundation, it’s vegetarian but unlike a traditional vegetarian diet it does not allow dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and eggs. Bread is a dominant part of many vegan diets although there is also an emphasis on raw fruits and vegetables in addition to whole grains. It’s easy to make this bread in your machine and the result is very good while satisfying the discipline of a vegan diet.
Vegan Bread Recipe:
Makes a 2 pound loaf
- 1 3⁄4 cups hot water (about 110° F.)
- 1 1⁄2teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups unbleached flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
Select basic white course for a 2 pound loaf and medium crust.
The Fiber Challenge
Most breads contribute a good amount of fiber to our diet but you can take it up a notch with the addition of certain ingredients. Oatmeal has been proven to add significantly to overall fiber in any diet and is a great ingredient in certain bread recipes. This particular recipe adds a cup of oatmeal and it’s important to know that the addition of any high-fiber ingredient is a portion complemented by a flour. You might not like a loaf made from pure fiber ingredients, but the addition of high-fiber components can make a difference if that is something you want to add to your diet. This recipe, like many others, also satisfies the vegan-diet discipline.
Oatmeal Bread Machine Recipe:
Makes a 1.5 pound loaf
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 2 cups flour (either all white, 1/2 white 1/2 wheat, or other combo)
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
Add ingredients to bread pan in the order indicated and select basic white course; 1.5 pound loaf and light crust setting.
Sourdough bread is an ancient recipe that uses a yeast that is both unique and adds a piquancy to the flavor of a bread. This bread typically features a crispy crust and a dense texture that is both flavorful and mildly tart. It requires the use of a sourdough starter and I’ve offered a link to one of them, although you might find it in some stores. Some people actually keep their sourdough starters in a small crock pot and occasionally add flour and warm water to keep it active. That’s up to you. I already have plenty to do between walking the dog and feeding my goldfish so I’ve taken a pass on keeping a chunk of sourdough yeast alive and thriving in a crock.
This is a bit of a fussy recipe because the sourdough starter and initial prep requires some extra steps. Once you get the hang of it, it’ll be easier so be patient and give the sourdough a chance to do its job.
Sourdough Bread Recipe:
Makes a 1.5 pound loaf
- 2 cups proofed sourdough starter
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1⁄2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cups bread flour
- Before measuring out your 2 cups of starter culture, it must be proofed: To proof, start with 1 cup of starter and stir into it equal parts of flour and warm water (for this recipe, 1 1/2 cups of each would be more than enough).
- Let mixture sit, covered loosely, for 8 to 12 hours– the longer it sits, the sourer the flavor will be.
- At this point, measure out the 2 cups required for recipe, and return leftover starter to refrigerator for next time. Pour starter into the bread pan. Melt butter. Add milk to butter and warm briefly (85 degrees F). Add the salt and sugar, stir until dissolved. Add this mixture to the culture and mix well. Add the remaining flour to the bread pan and select basic white course; 1.5 pound loaf and dark crust.
I think you get the idea. Alternative bread recipes are easy to master if you understand the fundamental ingredients that define the ingredients you need to add or delete to accomplish your goal. You may have to experiment a bit and with recipes like sourdough, be patient until you understand the dynamics of how the starter works with your ingredients. Hopefully you’ll find that in a relatively short period of time your find consistent success and can explore other approaches and ingredients to customize your bread recipes to your lifestyle and needs.