Gluten-Free Olive Herb Focaccia Flatbread Recipe

May 18th, 2008 yum Posted in Bette Hagman, Bread, Flatbread, Mediterranean, herbs 15 Comments »

olivefocaccia.jpgI don’t know about you, but every time I see a bakery stand at the Farmer’s Market, or the bakery section of a gourmet grocery store, and see some beautiful herb-encrusted flatbread, I can’t help but get a little jealous. Bread can seem a little boring when it’s just plain, unflavored bread- oh, still yummy, but it doesn’t necessarily have the flavor kick to stand on its own as a meal. (I do love me a good vegetarian sandwich, though… with hummus, fresh basil, tomatoes and sprouts, maybe some cheese if I’m doing dairy- oh so good.) So that’s why I was inspired to create this olive herb flatbread for a recent gluten-free support group get-together. We have members with multiple allergies, so I made the recipe as allergen-friendly as possible, with no soy, dairy, eggs, bean flour, or nuts involved. I was inspired jointly by a Bette Hagman recipe in her “Gluten Free Gourmet Cooks Fast and Healthy” and a recipe for olive herb flatbread in my The Best 50 Olive Recipes (Best 50) cookbook. Basically, the balance of flour to liquid is the only thing similar to the Bette Hagman recipe, but it was helpful and I’m sure the original recipe (with rice and tapioca starch and seasoned with fennel and onion) would be good as well. However, for my creation I wanted a more healthful flour blend with some help from one of my favorite whole-grain gluten-free flours, teff. According to one online source, teff “contains 11% protein, 80% complex carbohydrate and 3% fat. It is an excellent source of essential amino acids, especially lysine, the amino acid that is most often deficient in grain foods. Teff contains more lysine than barley, millet, and wheat and slightly less than rice or oats. Teff is also an excellent source of fiber and iron, and has many times the amount of calcium, potassium and other essential minerals found in an equal amount of other grains.” These researchers were not well versed on the gluten-free diet, but uncontaminated, gluten-free teff flour can be found through Bob’s Red Mill or The Teff Company. I like teff for the whole-grain nutty brown flour flavor it imparts to baked goods, as well as its high fiber and protein, but I think it works best combined with other flours as it is in this recipe. So, why not give this fancy flatbread recipe a try, and see how you like it. Or, better yet, come up with your own fancy flavor combination, test it out, and tell me all about it in the comments? :)

Want more whole grain bread recipes?
Try Adeena’s Gluten-Free Rosemary Teff Dinner Roll Recipe
or my South American Socca Recipe
or this Apple Onion Fetta Socca Recipe
Or my Allergen-free Buckwheat Crepe Recipe

BytheBay also has a lovely recipe for Gluten-Free Kalamata Olive Rosemary Artisan Bread that looks very promising.

Got any other favorites? Share in the comments!
*Note- I was making other pizzas in the oven at the same time and the oven door was something of a revolving door, so the bread sank a little. However, it tasted great and the texture was very good, so I think it should be fine as long as you don’t overproof it and don’t open the oven while it’s baking!*

Soy-Free Dairy-Free Egg-Free Nut-Free Vegan Gluten Free Olive Herbed Focaccia Recipe
2 tsp sugar
1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup teff flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 ener-g foods egg replacer egg or 1 real egg if desired
1 tbsp. high quality olive oil
scant 3/4 cup chopped kalamata olives (use 1/2 cup in the dough, the rest for garnishing to taste)
1 tbsp. fresh oregano
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt or black salt
Prepare a jelly roll pan by spraying it with non stick cooking spray or oiling it with olive oil and using parchment paper.

Combine sugar with water, add yeast. Combine dry ingredients (up to salt) in a medium bowl. In the bowl of your kitchenaid mixer, combine the “egg” with the olive oil. Add your proofed yeast water. Mix and then add your dry ingredients to your mixer, including 1/2 cup of your olives if you haven’t added them already. beating on high for two minutes. Pour into the prepared pan, spread it with a frosting knife, and add any additional fresh herb sprigs, chopped olives, and salt to the top. Baste with a little more olive oil.

Cover and let rise for 40 minutes or so, while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 20-25 minutes and tear off pieces to enjoy with high quality olive oil, or on their own.

This flatbread was very good. It did deflate a little after rising, perhaps due to the egg replacer egg. Still- Yummy! I’ve always wanted to make an olive flatbread like this.

The olive seasonings idea came from a little book called “The Best 50 Olive Recipes.”

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My Adopted Gluten Free Blogger- Naomi the Accidental Vegetarian

April 10th, 2008 yum Posted in Adopt a Gluten Free Blogger, Bette Hagman, Better Batter, Gluten Free Blogs 6 Comments »

naomi3.jpgnaomi5.jpgFor the March-April Adopt a Gluten-Free Blogger Event, I was pleased to announce that my adopted blogger was none other than the superwoman Naomi over at the Accidental Vegetarian. Now, I am somewhat embarrassed, because the month before Naomi had actually adopted me… but the thing is, I really wanted to adopt her because she has had some absolutely fabulous and crazy-creative recipes on her site. Furthermore, our Miz Naomi doesn’t just contribute a vegetarian blog to the gluten-free community, she is an entrepreneur and has started her own company with a very favorably received Better Batter flour blend. Naomi even sent me a complimentary bag of better batter. Unfortunately, my dragon-flour-hoarding tendencies came out with this precious commodity and I kept it all wrapped up in my pantry for the longest time until FINALLY the adoption of this gluten-free blogger made it seem like a special enough occasion to use it! I decided to not just make a baked good, but also try one of her special savory recipes, which often include raw or vegan recipes. I was tempted by her Vegan Caesar Salad with macademia nut, probiotic vegan cheese, but I had a little trouble locating the ingredients, so I had to keep looking. I ended up choosing a recipe for Almond Crusted Zucchini because I had the ingredients and I trusted Naomi to steer me in the right direction. Zucchini can be either really bad (steamed, mushy, plain and slimy) or really good, and I had a feeling this was going to be the latter.event1b.jpg It also didn’t hurt that Naomi was riffing on the nutritional yeast coating theme that I love so much. Well… I cut up my zucchini, mixed up my almonds and nutritional yeast coating, and then dipped my zucchini in egg and then the coating flakes. I did deviate SLIGHTLY because although I tried it in my cast iron pan with the coconut oil/olive oil combination, I had trouble with things getting too hot. I haven’t experimented with pan-frying in coconut oil before, mind you. Anyway, halfway through I switched to a nonstick pan and pure olive oil, a combination that worked better for my stove. I also stirred up some impromptu pasta sauce, with grated carrots, onion and tomato, to accompany DH’s favorite corn pasta. As I piled up the zucchini on a plate I knew this recipe was a winner. The nutritional yeast and nutty almond coating had turned golden brown and crispy, but beneath those layers the roasted zucchini had its own springy, freshly grilled aroma. DH is as persnickety about his zucchini as I am…. and it turned out… this recipe was such a HUGE HIT in our house that besides the few pieces I ate, DH would have eaten the whole recipe if I hadn’t rescued a few pieces for a “photo shoot” the next morning. :) As expected, Naomi turned out another fabulous recipe, and you know, I’ve been going in this direction for a while now, but I have to say, zucchini is becoming one of my favorite vegetables… WHEN PREPARED PROPERLY. And this recipe isn’t just prepared properly- it’s prepared in such a way as to rate VERY highly on the yum scale. And we will be making it again. Oh yes, we will be making it again…


Other recipes I have earmarked from Naomi’s savory offerings at the Accidental Vegetarian include
Vegetarian Potstickers
Vegan Stuffed Shells with nut filling
Spaghetti Squash with Vegetarian “Meaty” Marinara

But how about the GLUTEN-FREE BREAD?

naomibread.jpgAs I mentioned, I was very, very excited when Naomi sent me a bag of her better-batter to try. Her recipe for the perfect gluten-free croissants is legendary in certain gluten-free circles. I wanted to try it, but I’ve been taking a break from dairy lately, so I had to keep looking. Finally I decided on a recipe, not from her blog, but from her company’s web page. And yes, the beautiful loaves on the left (and above) were made with Naomi’s french bread recipe.

Many of you may have heard me mention my favorite recipe for gluten-free french bread by gluten-free cookbook pioneer Bette Hagman in her book, More from the Gluten-free Gourmet: Delicious Dining Without WheatThis is one of my favorite go-to gluten-free bread recipes that I always serve at dinner parties to gluten-eating guests. It’s a simple recipe, with egg whites, white rice flour, and tapioca starch and a few other things thrown in for fun, but it turns out EVERY time, even if you substitute egg replacer eggs for the eggs. It always gets rave reviews, but I thought, you know, it would be fun to try a GLUTEN-FREE Bake-off with Naomi’s flour blend.

So, let the GLUTEN-FREE BAKE-OFF begin!
glutenfreefrenchbread1.jpg1) Ease and Simplicity of Recipe
Bette Hagman’s recipe is pretty simple, especially for her. Only two flours is practically unheard of in her recipes- and for good reason. Usually two flours just aren’t able to replicate gluten. However, somehow this recipe succeeds, and like I said, it’s pretty reliable, even with egg and dairy substitutions. (on left)

Naomi’s recipe is really like a gluten based bread recipe in that it only has FOUR, yes, i said FOUR ingredients. I was a little surprised by the amount of flour called for, though- the recipe asked for seven whole cups of my precious better batter. Hmm. I couldn’t really tell how many loaves the recipe made, but I was guessing it was either two or four (in a double french bread pan). Turned out it made four… a lot of bread for a two person household! It went together nicely and easily and the dough had a faint potato aroma when raw. I did forget to dampen the loaves as recommended so I ended up with my typical “homestyle” french bread surface. Something really great for those dairy or egg intolerant (or vegans)- No egg or dairy needed in this recipe, with no substitutions needed. Woo hoo!

2) Texture and Flavor

Bette Hagman’s french bread is best straight out of the oven and for the first day. It has a soft texture with a somewhat crunchy exterior. Don’t expect any flaky hard exterior, though- the crunchiest part can be the bottom that bakes against the cornmeal strewn french bread pan. It’s great on its own or with basil dipping oil. After the first day, it’s good microwaved briefly or toasted.

frenchbread2.jpgNaomi’s french bread had a very crunchy exterior due to the ice technique. We enjoyed it the most the first day as well, and after that the exterior got a little tough. But, it was great toasted again or microwaved the second and third day. It’s impressively light considering there are no eggs, but a little heavier than the Bette Hagman bread. It’s also slightly less sweet than the Bette Hagman french bread, but with the added flours, may have higher protein and nutrition than the Bette Hagman bread would have if you made it without eggs.

3) The Verdict
This wasn’t really a fair challenge, because I already have an established favorite french bread recipe and it’s something of a family favorite. I think it would be almost impossible for any new recipe to steal our heart in this particular case. But while it turned out DH and I both decided that Bette Hagman’s french bread was our favorite, we also think that Naomi’s flour blend is amazing. If you’d told me years ago I could add water, yeast and salt to a flour mix (and not one designed only for bread) and come out with palatable gluten-free bread- I’m not sure I would have believed you. But somehow Naomi has done it, and I think that is SO DARNED COOL! As far as this recipe goes- I think I should have cut it in half, because I ended up with four beautiful loaves, two of which went to waste. (If being allowed to dry for future bread crumbs counts as waste). Many of the recipes on the Better Batter site seem fairly large- I’d love to have directions for a small loaf, because our household just doesn’t go through that much bread at a time. Also, for this recipe, I’m thinking maybe one ice treatment might have interesting results. Now I want to try the ice cube trick with Bette’s bread, just like I did with my Rosemary Teff Rolls. I do have some better batter left, so next I think I’ll try it in a “regular” gluten-type recipe and see how it turns out… Or, maybe I’ll scrape together enough for her croissants and brave the dairy for a day. Mmmm….

I hope this post has encouraged you not only to check out Naomi’s blog at Accidental Vegetarian but also check out her company and flour blend. I have read so many raves of her flour and I’d love to hear about your experiences with her different recipes, so please post in the comments and help me decide what to make next with MY better batter flour! This will also help others who are in my boat of having to pick just one… or two… of her recipes to try. I can’t wait to see what Naomi does in the future, and I’m sure she’ll find great success with her product, not only because she has a great product, and really understands gluten-free baking, but also because she’s great with her customers and always willing to offer baking tips to anyone in need! Now if I could just drop by her house one of these nights for dinner…. ;)

Read about how this blog event started
See an Example of an entry for this event.
And check out Our Roundup for last month
PS Just in case you were wondering, I have no connection with the Better Batter company except being “e-friendly” with Naomi, and I don’t do that whole icky “write about a product because someone pays you to” thing. I do sometimes chose to review products that people send me (in fact, I will be talking about Triumph dining cards and restaurant guide in the near future)- or just products that I come across on my own- but either way, I present my honest, subjective opinion of that product and welcome other subjective counter-points, preferably from unaffiliated sources. (BTW, I liked the triumph cards, so nobody need get nervous. lol)

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