Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Christmas Day Experiment!

Usually on holidays, I try some new recipe.  This year, I decided to try a sweet egg bread.

I didn't even know what makes "egg bread" special until later - it just looked yummy at the time.  I don't usually try breads that look as if they are meant to be extra fluffy, because gluten-free breads don't get extra fluffy no matter what I do.  So I usually stick with moist breads and dense breads.  That's my preference, anyway . . . I am of Eastern European heritage - we like our breads chewy and dense! (or maybe that's just me!)

I used the Better Homes & Gardens recipe for braided raisin egg bread (from the red plaid cookbook everyone has in their kitchen!) with some tweaks. 

For flour, I used Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread and Baking Mix, which my Dad thoughtfully bought for me to try out.  I use Pamela's Pancake and Baking Mix for most of my cooking and baking, which is gritter and which makes lovely cookies and quick breads (like banana bread and cupcakes), but does NOT make good yeast breads.  THANKS, DAD!  I will definitely be buying more - I'm glad you bought some for me!

Result (in case you can't wait for the end of the post!): I am definitely going to make this over and over again, though I don't think I will braid it unless it's a special occasion.  The braided part is nice because little chunks of bread can be torn off - no knife necessary!  But the gluten-free version doesn't rise enough to make the braided loaf appropriate for sandwiches (the pieces of braid don't rise together and connect to each other), and I would like to make this and use it for sandwiches.  I don't remember exactly, because it's been 15 years since I (purposefully) ate gluten, but I think the texture of this bread is similar to a very soft bagel.  

When I looked up "egg bread," it was often compared to Challah, a dense Jewish bread.  Here's a link to a site about Challah that explains it in a hilarious way!  Challah uses oil instead of butter and milk.  Also, Challah has a hard crust because of the egg wash used, and this egg bread has a soft tender outside and a chewy inside.  The egg bread I made has more sugar, so it's sweeter, and I put in more raisins and sprinkled the top slightly with cinnamon.

Another thing I found while I was researching egg bread is that most yeast breads do NOT use eggs!  However, it's probably best for me, as a gluten-free baker, to use eggs, because "The protein-rich whites act in breads as both a binder and a leavener, because of their ability to hold air. The fat-rich egg yolks add color, flavor and richness to breads" (thanks to eHow!)

1.  Dough is mixed and rising

2.  Raisins are incorporated

3.  Three bunches of dough, first one rolled into a cylinder

4.  Second piece rolled

5.  Third piece rolled

6.  Three pieces braided, bread in the oven

7.  Done baking - golden and firm

8.  With icing!

It had just gotten pulled out of the oven when we had to leave to go see "The Hobbit," but I had a couple pieces when we got home, and it is VERY good.  I had some for breakfast, too.  And I expect there will be some in my lunch plans!  If you invite me over on any holidays, I would be willing to bring this delicious and festive bread.

In the future, I plan to make this bread braided with chocolate chips instead of raisins, rolled into cinnamon rolls instead of braided, with dried cranberries at Thanksgiving, and plain (regular loaf shape and size) for sandwiches.  I also plan to try adding xanthan gum, a rising agent that was created to replace the gluten that breads need to rise.  The flour has some in it already, but I'm going to experiment with adding more to see what happens (though this texture and taste would be hard to beat!)  

A small loaf of the best gluten-free bread out there (which is not as good as this, I'm happy and proud to say!) costs $7!  A large bag of gluten-free flour is about $16, and I could get at least two batches of this bread (which would have made two loaves) out of a bag, so that would be definitely less expensive than buying loaves of pre-made gluten-free bread, AND it would leave my house filled with delicious aromas AND I would be able to customize my bread each time I baked it!

It did take a while, but since I work at home, I can do the mixing, then work while it rises; the kneading, then work while it rises again.  So it's not that time-intensive.

Hooray for those times when experiments lead to wonderful discoveries!

Happy Boxing Day!


1 comment:

  1. I showed Caylie the braided bread and she says " OOOOOH cool" Didn't know they made a Pamala Bread flour so will let Jennifer know that, too