When I told Hubs I was going to attempt to make gluten-free, vegan bread, he said, “Oh no.” That’s kind of how I felt about it, too. A GF/V (and xanthan-free, bonus!) bread that actually tastes good is not easy to come by. Not to mention, bread can be tricky to make. When I came across this recipe from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, the selling factor was the very long thread of mostly raving-review comments. I had to see for myself. I was thinking… if this actually works and doesn’t taste like crap, well, I’ll believe it when I see it.
As you can see in the photo, it turned out quite well. And I’m happy to report that it tastes as good as it looks! It’s definitely a dense bread (much like whole wheat), but it’s not dry or chewy or weird in any way. You’ll just want to be sure to cut your slices very thin because it is very filling.
I will warn you – making bread requires precision and patience. You’ll want to follow this recipe to a tee. Through the entire process, I was worried that it wouldn’t turn out well. First of all, the ingredients are quite specific. I had ground psyllium husks on hand, but not whole. And apparently this is a critical ingredient, so I sucked it up and bought whole. I did have ground chia seeds, so I got to skip the grinding step. I couldn’t find sweet rice flour, so I used regular white rice flour. My yeast didn’t seem to activate that much – just a few tiny bubbles. But I waited a full ten minutes and decided that was enough. During the first kneading step, the recipe says to add more flour. I didn’t add more because I could barely get all the flour incorporated as it was. The dough felt dry to me, but I kept kneading until I could form a ball with it. I was so happy when the dough actually raised like it should.
I swear there were beams of light shooting out of the oven when the timer went off and I opened the oven door. I think I heard angels singing, too. It was a glorious moment, folks. If I sound dramatic, it’s only because I wanted this to work so badly. Plus I am very limited on time right now and I couldn’t bear the thought of wasting time on a failed recipe test.
I pulled this gorgeous golden loaf of bread out of the oven. The house smelled just like it did when I would come home from school and there would be homemade bread cooling on the counter. My mom is an AWESOME bread maker (when she doesn’t lose foreign objects like Band-Aids and gemstones in the dough – true story). Recipe says to allow it to cool for 30 to 60 minutes, which is hard enough, but I did. By then, it was too late in the day to photograph (no more sunlight). So I had to let this fresh loaf of bread, untouched, sit on my counter until the next day. Now that’s patience. I wanted to try it so badly. But then this picture-perfect loaf would be no more.
Since I’m still new to this whole food photography thing (and photography in general), it takes me considerable time to set up a shot and find the right props and then take a bazillion photos. When I make something like this, where I can’t taste it before I shoot it, I am just praying the whole time that it tastes good. Cuz if it doesn’t, I’m just wasting my time.
Finally, I have enough shots of the uncut loaf and I can slice into this baby…
YAY! The inside looks good, too! And it doesn’t crumble to pieces when I slice it, nor is it hard as a rock. And these photos might actually be turning out okay! Oh hallelujah.
Now for the true test – how does it taste? Again, I’m pretty sure the heavens parted and a choirs of angels were singing. A huge sigh of relief. It actually tastes like real bread! Now I don’t want you to think this is the best bread I’ve had in my life. It certainly is not. BUT, it is definitely the best gluten-free, vegan bread and it could put some “regular” breads to shame. It’s definitely got game.
But can it make a decent sandwich? Why yes it can. I threw a couple of Gardein Chick’n Filets in the toaster oven, whipped up a batch of this pesto (which is great, but way too salty so cut the salt in half or less if you make it), and sliced up some tomatoes and mozzarella-style Rice Cheeze* (which is actually really good!). Piled it all up and toasted both sides of the sandwich with some olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Then did a little happy dance as I devoured my lunch. (Next time I would definitely cut thinner slices of bread, though.)
*Update: I thought this cheese was vegan, but it is not. It contains casein (milk protein). Nor is it gluten-free. Thanks to those of you who have brought it to my attention.
It also makes excellent toast! Had a piece this morning with some Earth Balance spread and it was divine.
So, can we get a round of applause for Ali and Tom from Whole Life Nutrition?! You guys are amazing. Thanks so much for sharing this healthy bread recipe that definitely DOES NOT suck. Major kudos to you!