Sunday, 17 February 2008

Gluten Free Bread (egg free, dairy free, gluten free)

I won my weighing scales in a bet.

When we bought our house in France, we discovered that the lanes were perfect for running. One weekend my husband came back from his run.
‘I saw a dead swan in a pond. It’s head is completely submerged, all you can see is its body’. I looked at him in consternation,
Maybe we should report it? It could be Bird Flu’.
He nodded. We poured another glass of wine and did nothing.

The following weekend I went for a run and had a look for the dead swan. When I ran back onto our drive I was panting and laughing.
‘It’s not a dead swan!’ I giggled, ‘it’s a plastic swan!’

My husband is a mathematical man; he deals in caution, probability and the science of hedging his bets. Yet that day he was uncharacteristically vehement;
‘Absolutely not, no way. A plastic swan around here? With all these hard-bitten, gritty farmers? No. You’re wrong. You. Are. Wrong’.

There was silence. The breeze sent a tumbleweed past my feet, and close by came the haunting sound of the Ocarina;

ooeee ooeee ooo, ooo ooo ooo,
ooeee ooeee ooo, ooo ooo ooo

We faced each other, legs braced, arms cocked; he was Clint to my Van Cleef. I tipped back my Stetson with a finger and my hand hovered around my holster,
‘How much,’ I hissed, ‘do you wanna bet?’His eyes narrowed and the harsh sun glinted off his spurs. He chewed the end off his cheroot and spat in the dirt. He spoke slowly, menacingly;
'50 says the swan is real’I brushed some dust off the sleeve of my black jacket, and eyed his serape with disdain,
‘50. Quid - not Euros - and if you lose, you leave town for good’

I spat in the dust. It landed a centimetre from his pointed snakeskin boot. His eyes travelled slowly from the boot up to my face.
‘I think you might regret that’

ooeee ooeee ooo, ooo ooo ooo

We retreated to different ends of the house and shortly I heard the door slam and saw him set off for his run. Much later – nonchalantly - I grabbed one of my girls,
‘Come on L, let’s go and get some bread’.
My tyres squealed as I threw the car around the lanes, until at last we arrived at the pond.
‘Do you think it’s real?’ I asked my bemused daughter,
‘Dunno’ she said. We gathered stones to hurl at the headless swan. She was 5 and I am a rubbish shot; it took us ages. Eventually, however, there was the unmistakeable ‘dink’ of a stone bouncing off plastic.

When I found him he was lying on the garden bench. His Stetson hiding his face. His long legs crossed, the spurs on his boots burnished orange by the dying day. I approached him warily, fearing an ambush.
‘The swan’ I growled, ‘is plastic. I think you have something that belongs to me’.
Slowly he sat up, his eyes dark in the shadow of his hat. His face was inscrutable as he peeled off the notes.
How long have you known?’ I asked. He lit a cheroot and his eyes narrowed as the wisps of smoke curled around his greying temples,
‘Since my run. I went and threw stones at it. Do I really have to leave town?’
I fixed him with a steely glare and smoothed my moustache menacingly,
‘Not this time, no, I’ll take your horse instead’.
I vaulted neatly into the saddle and he ate my dust as I galloped off into the sunset.

Ooeee, ooeee ooo, ooo ooo ooo

A few weeks later, Mr Ebay delivered my lovely 50 quid scales. I’ve been using them a lot these past few weeks, trying to perfect this graceful loaf. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve tried it, but not to worry, it’s done now. And using my scales is no chore at all; especially as the victory was so sweet.

Some people are good. Some are just bad, and ugly.

Ooee ooee ooo, ooo ooo ooo
Swan Lake Gluten Free Loaf

So after the joy of the Archimedes' rolls, I thought the loaf would be a formality. Yet it has proved quite tricky. When I used a regular loaf tin, the mix would rise way too high and collapse over the sides during cooking, and it only produced a small loaf, not really good enough for sandwiches. So I hit upon using a Charlotte mould to support it as it grows; it does the trick and produces sandwich-sized slices. As with most gluten free bread, it is best on the day of baking, but it does toast well the next morning.
My Charlotte mould measures 14cm across the base, and 18cm across the top, if you use a smaller one, you would have to reduce the ingredients to suit.

300g cornflour / corn starch
200g brown rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
0.75tsp salt
1.5 tbsp sugar
2 tsp gluten free yeast
70g dairy free spread
500ml tepid water
  • Put the flours, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and yeast into a large mixing bowl and use a small whisk to mix it all together
  • Add the dairy free spread
  • Add the tepid water and use a wooden spoon to gently combine the water and flour. When combined, start to beat the mixture. Round and round, scraping through the middle, give it a real good going over until all the lumps are gone and the dairy free spread has blended in. It may take anything from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Scrape any mixture down from the sides of the bowl, and place the bowl in a warm place for 20 minutes
  • Heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, line the base of your Charlotte mould with baking parchment and grease the sides
  • After 20 minutes, very gently scrape the bread mix into the Charlotte mould, and smooth off the surface with the back of a wooden spoon. Cover with greased cling film and leave in a warm place, until the mix has risen to the top of the mould and is rising in a slight dome over the top. This could take 45 minutes to an hour
  • When the mix is as described above, remove the cling film and put the mould into the oven
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes uncovered, until the surface of the bread is golden brown. The bread should be firm to the touch
  • Remove it from the oven and carefully tip it out of the mould into your oven-gloved hand. Then place it onto a pizza tray. Cover the surface of the bread with silver foil, and twist it at each end to prevent it blowing off in the oven; it will look like a giant silver sweet from above
  • Return the loaf to the oven and cook for another 15-20 minutes, the sides will brown slightly, as will the base
  • The loaf is cooked when it sounds very hollow when you tap the base
  • Place the loaf on a cooling rack to cool
  • Enjoy a sandwich...I like mine topless, like the one below

© Pig in the Kitchen 2007
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Miriam said...

that loaf looks absolutely delicious, partic the topless sandwich. When are you going to get book? I love the story/recipe combination, and you do it brilliantly, mimi

Sweet Irene said...

As always, a more than amusing story to lead into the recipe. You really do need to get published. I loved the spit in the sand by his snake leathered boot.

The bread sounds fabulous, and if I had not just eaten a bunch of cookies, I would salivating right now, because there is nothing better than home made bread. You are a true dedicated Kitchen Queen. None of the other TV Queens can hold a match to your fire.

I am sure that if you lived in the Netherlands, you would be famous by now.

Sally Parrott Ashbrook said...

You are truly a magician. What you can manage to make amazes me.

Potty Mummy said...

Topless sandwiches, Pig? Is there no end to your hedonism?

Brom said...

That'll tech him not to stick his neck out!

Mopsa said...

Now, that's all very lovely, Pig, but when I click onto your blog I was relying on seeing that gorgeous choccy pud so I could lick the screen in contentment.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello Mimi (may I call you Mimi?!) I'm so glad you like my topless sandwich. Oh the book, the book, it would be a lovely book wouldn't it? Maybe I need to go topless to the publishers? They're not listening at the moment...[pig heaves a large porcine sigh]

SweetI, thank-you for your kind comments, i enjoyed the spit on the boot, he had it coming to him. Maybe i should move to the Netherlands? Your comments are very encouraging...

Sally PA, awwww, thanks! I don't know what to say!

PottyM, the only sandwich to have is a topless one ;-)

Brom, too true...but I may not win the next one!

Sweet Mopsa, your wish is my command...look and lust at the top right hand corner of my blog! Please wipe the screen when you're done.

Jess P. said...

Ah, got to love the Clint Eastwood westerns. I've got a father who should have been a cowboy, so I was raised on those. It's a classic, and so are you. Thanks Pig!

Maggie May said...

Hi Pig in the kitchen. Don't think I've ever been to your blog before. Are you coeliac? All the gluten free things? Only my daughter has this condition.I will have to come again & take notes!

Mopsa said...

Mmmm! Thank you for another opportunity to slurp. I promise to clean the screen when I'm done.

elizabethm said...

Love your tale. You are spot on. I could see the tumbleweed roll.

the mother of this lot said...

Oh good, something that isn't chocolate. And thank you for ensuring that I will be singing 'ooeeooeeoo' all day tomorrow.

GoneBackSouth said...

I love how you see drama in things - such an imagination you have. Glad you won the swan bet.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

JessP, Clint is the master cowboy, those narrowed eyes do it for me!

Hello Maggie May, I'm not a coeliac. My daughter has a milk, egg and nut allergy, and another family member has a gluten intolerance, hence my blog. Thanks for visiting, bring your daughter along next time!

Mopsa, you are very welcome, I shall leave the pic there for your delectation.

elizabethm, merci! Could you hear the Ocarina as well? ooo eee oooeee oooo, oh you've got me started again.

TMOTL, no chocolate with this recipe, you might want to look away when the next one comes tho...

Gonebacksouth, I wonder if sleep deprivation increases the imaginative powers?!

thenewstead6 said...

bother, I don't have a charlotte mould! Help! How can I bake this?! I wonder if a casserole, or hob to oven saucepan of a similar size would work? Or a cake tin? Is it just the height? I got all ready to bake this, lining up the ingredients, before I had a "duh" moment and read the comment properly about using the mould....

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Newstead6 oh no! I feel bad now for having used a pernickety Charlotte mould...
It is about getting the right height so that the bread slices are a decent size. If you don't mind them being a bit small, you could try it in a large loaf tin, but mine did collapse over the sides a little (not tons, it wasn't ruined, it just wasn't the effect I was after)...I'm racking my brains, I don't really know what a hob to oven thingy is, if it's metal and deep it may work (but i guess it would have to be metal to adequately conduct the heat)...
I'm very sorry that the recipe has caused you inconvenience...let me know how it turns out.

Mya said...

Salivating here, again. I'm sure just reading your blog puts weight on my hips.

Now...what was the plastic swan doing there? Decoy? Decoration? And I'm so glad you made the hubster pay for his know-all-ness. We mustn't let them get away with that kind of behaviour!
I'm off to scoff.

Mya x

Elsie Button said...

glad you're enjoying your scales - well deserved too - after all the excitement you went through to get them! oh my god, that picture at end of the recipe is making my mouth water. can i come and live with you and be cooked for forever more...

Akelamalu said...

You totally crack me up Pig!

Loved the oooeee oooeee ooo video too. LOL

mutterings and meanderings said...

Good for you Pig!

When I did the wheat free thing a few eyars ago I could've done with this recipe. Do you know (well yes, you probably do) how much they charge for ready made wheat-free bread?? It makes you scales look cheap!

Elsie Button said...

by the way, i just went to see if Drunk Mummy might have come back. She hasn't. Gutted.

Marianne said...

Everything should have a story attached to it. I love the story of your scales. A great victory and well told.

Back from the land of chocolate. My only regret is that I didn't buy enough!

Not a Granny said...

Please tell me that you have taken the plastic swan and put it in your yard?

That sandwich looks fantastic!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

sweet Mya, the swan was there to dissuade herons from diving down and eating the fish in the pond! It was indeed headless, the lady who owns it told me her grandchild broke the neck off. And who says they're not peculiar in the country? ;-)

elsie B, i would like to have you as a houseguest, I find you very entertaining! And your scary Betty would soon whip my children into shape!

Akelamalu...i restrained from adding the 'doo doo doo doo'!

M&M, tsk, why wasn't I making this when you needed it? They do charge a lot don't they, and it doesn't taste good!

ElsieB, I know, I keep going to snivel at her dead blog and lay flowers...

Hello Marianne, well welcome back! I shall head over to read of your trip to Bruges...

Not A Granny, welcome! Alas, I think I'd get reported for stealing the swan. It's recently been joined by some plastic ducks...I'd quite like one of those!

Naomi Devlin said...

ooee ooee ooo, ooo ooo ooo....


x x x

Jeff P said...

I was wondering if this recipe could work in a bread maker. Has anyone tried it in one yet?

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello JeffP,
I haven't tried it, but think the bread machine might be overkill. GF bread without eggs is very fragile, it doesn't like too much kneading!
but if you give it a go, please report back!

Robyn in Sunny South Africa said...

I have a bread machine with a 'rapid bake' that they recommend be used for gluten free bread. I've played a little with your recipe, and now add 2 eggs to the liquid measurement and leave out the dairy free spread. This morning's loaf was the best yet, and I think it's cos I mixed up the flours, salt & xanthum (tho I think I used guar gum :)) before putting them into the machine - I also forgot to put any sugar in, but it's turned out the best loaf yet! Yay!!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Robyn in S. SA, hurrah! Those pesky eggs, they make gluten free cooking so much easier, so I'm very glad you can use them. It's been -8 degrees C here in Paris this week, just a touch warmer for you I guess?!

Steve said...

Looks wonderful, and maybe easy enough for me to handle. A couple of questions, though:
- I have both corn flour and corn starch, and they are very different. You mean corn starch here, right?
- What on earth is a 'Charlotte mould'? Google only shows round cake pans. How is this different from a bread pan? If it is just a tall bread pan, then that would be a great find! I'm tired of short slices of bread... they do limit the amount of sandwich fillings I can use.

Pig in the Kitchen said...

hello Steve,
I DO mean corn be uber clear, the stuff that goes into a really weird paste when you add water, semi-liquid, semi-solid, usually used for thickening sauces.

I did put a link to the charlotte mould, just a short little link:

but it doesn't really show it very well i suppose. A charlotte mould is like a cake pan, but it is tapered, so the base is slightly smaller than the top...this gives the dough space to rise upwards and outwards, and results in a shape as shown in the loaf picture on the blog. Thinking about it...if you have a bread maker you could probably use the pan that comes with it, they are usually tall and thin aren't they? , you could probably leave off the kneading paddle in the breadmaker pan then you wouldn't have that troublesome hole in the base of the loaf that breadmachine bread always has.

good luck, i hope at least some of this makes sense. (just found another link:,Pots-and-pans,Charlotte-mould


disa said...


Emily said...

you are wonderful thank you so much!!!

my 15 month old daughter has allergies / intollerances to egg, all dairy, soya, wheat and gluten and finding a recipe that actually worked so I could continue making her sandwiches was proving to be near impossible!

I'll be off tomorrow shopping for ingredients and a charlotte tin :)

Emily said...

Said loaf has now been made...I had to force myself to stop eating it or there would be nothing left for my little chicken!!! It truly is the most delicious bread :)