Saturday, February 22, 2014

Life-Changing Loaf of Bread

Okay so the title of this post is quite intense, I realize.  How can a loaf of bread change your life?  Just know that I did not name this bread myself: this was actually the recipe's title!  I stumbled across it on Pinterest and clicked on it because it looked like a lovely multi-grain bread.  It ended up being not your average multi-grain bread, but a gluten-free loaf made of mostly nuts, seeds and oats, sweetened with maple syrup.  The "secret ingredient," however, is psyllium husk powder.  Yes, the same ingredient in Metamucil and other laxatives.  I know that doesn't sound very tasty to add to a bread, but it's just that psyllium husks are full of fiber.  They also happen to be one of the most absorbent fibers in nature (they can suck up to 10 times their weight in water!), so they make a really good addition to gluten-free breads because they bind everything together.

I sent the pin to Maggie, who is newly gluten-free and missing good bread.  I figured this was worth a try!  I started up the BYOI rule - Bring Your Own Ingredients - and soon Maggie was sitting in the kitchen with a bag full of life-changing bread ingredients!  I got to work on the bread, and she got to work opening each pysllium husk powder capsule; apparently you can buy the husks, the husk powder, or capsules of them, and the capsules were all she could find.  It took her quite a while to cut open the pills and pour out the powder, but she was diligent!

As for me, the job was much easier.  Here is something cool about the bread: you mix it all up right there in the bread pan.  That's just unheard of!  To be honest it was slightly hard to mix it all well in the pan, but just the fact that you can do it is cool.  Then you let it sit for at least 2 hours while it all melds together (and the psyllium, oats, and chia suck up all the water and get everything all stuck together).  Then you just bake it.  That's it.  As far as breads go, this thing was easy.

Mixing it all up in the bread pan!
Now, a word to the wise for anyone feeling brave enough to try this recipe: the original post recommends using a silicone bread pan.  I wasn't sure why, and I didn't have one, so I used a glass pan and a metal pan (I made 2 loaves).  And: now I understand it.  This thing sticks... badly.  After it has baked for 20 minutes, you have to take the bread out of the pan and put it right on the rack to finish baking.  This was not a pretty experience.  I had to hack at them with a bread knife to get them out, and they were in pieces.  Luckily I could mold them back together, but they didn't end up being the pretty little loaves from the pictures.  I read all the comments when I was finished, and noticed other people saying the same thing: these breads stick!  They recommend lining the pans with parchment paper, or oiling the pans really well with coconut oil (one of the ingredients in the bread).  If I make this again, that is a lesson that I learned the hard way.  One other weird thing about using metal: it made the bottom of the bread turn grayish.  Other commenters noted the same thing.  Weird.

See the slight gray from the metal pan? It didn't change the flavor, though.
But, the finally result!  It is bizarrely bread-like even without any flour whatsoever.  It is also (obviously) very nutty and seedy and someone who tried it here that night (we had a house full) said it was more like a granola bar than a bread.  We tried it with butter, cream cheese, jelly, and honey (not all together!)  Maggie preferred it with cream cheese, I liked it with honey, and Mark liked it with butter.  We all agreed that it was not the life-changing loaf of bread that the recipe suggested, but it was a very good sign that psyllium husks can be used successfully to make breads for my GF friends.   We think that next time, we want to try one that is more bread-like, with less nuts and seeds.  After a little Googling, I have found several recipes that I think need exploring!  But maybe Mags should buy the psyllium husks themselves rather than those capsules ;)


life-changing loaf of bread
from My New Roots

1 cup sunflower seeds
½ cup  flax seeds
½ cup hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups  rolled oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
4 tablespoons psyllium seed husks (3 tablespoons if using psyllium husk powder)
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
1 tablespoon maple syrup 
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil 
1 ½ cups water


1) In a flexible, silicon loaf pan (or an oiled or parchment-lined regular pan), combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it it.

2) Preheat oven to 350°F.

3) Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).

4) Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

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