If you're attracted to the idea of natural, whole food to nourish your body yet you'd still like to enjoy a sandwich, or something to spread your jam on, then you may be interested in checking out some naturally gluten-free bread options.
I think of "natural" as being on a continuum. The US FDA and then Canadian CFIA have definitions for "natural" on food packaging which basically boil down to no artificial flavours, colours or processed ingredients. I think that's great from a legislative perspective. After all, we need to know what we're eating and that manufacturers are meeting standards when it comes to labelling.
However, for those of us who are just trying to eat healthy and keep a little balance and sanity in our lives, I prefer the continuum, and to try to keep most of what I eat to the left side of the line. As you move right some processing might creep in. When you think about it, grinding grain into flour is processing. Even cooking is processing.
To find naturally gluten-free bread it helps to take a trip around the world. It also helps to let go of our “western” or European sense of what bread is. Many countries around the world have flatbreads in their traditional cuisines and many of these are naturally gluten-free.
The grain of choice in Mexico is corn, and from that we get cornbread and corn tortillas. You can put almost anything on a taco shell that you can put between two slices of bread. Pick up a bag of masa harina in the grocery store and try making your own corn tortillas then go crazy with traditional tacos, huevos rancheros, fish tacos, pizza tacos.
We may not think of hard taco shells as bread but really, the same principle applies. Anything that can go on a sandwich or in a wrap can go in a taco shell. They can make a fun change, they're handy to travel and have a short, simple list of minimally processed ingredients. Why not consider taco shells to be a naturally gluten-free bread?
Ethiopia gives us injera. This is a flatbread made from teff flour that’s fermented and cooked on a large hot griddle. So it’s technically a type of sourdough bread. It looks kind of like a big crepe but with a spongy texture. You’ll find it in many African countries, where it’s used as an eating utensil to scoop up delicious stews and vegetables.
Wraps that we’re familiar with here in North America can be traced to many countries. Burritos are a Tex-Mex favorite and pita or pocket breads come to us from the middle east where they are used much the same as injera, to pick up other foods to be eaten. Most of these are traditionally made from wheat flour but there are now many gluten-free options available. Bhakri is a naturally gluten-free unleavened bread from India. It can be made from multiple grains but rice and millet are common.
You’ve heard of the Mediterranean diet right? Well have you heard of the Nordic diet? It’s a modern diet developed for the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland). The principles are similar to the Mediterranean diet: Whole fresh foods, cooking at home, healthy fats, but with a focus on foods that are local to northern climates. Hardier fruits like apples, pears and berries. Some red meat, but more focus on fish. This interests me personally since I live in a Canada some of those same cold climate foods are right at home here.
When it comes to bread, the traditional Rugbrød, is made from rye. Rye contains gluten. But the interesting thing is that this rugbrød is a fairly dense bread so it translates nicely to gluten free flours.
Ya, I scoffed a bit when I first read the title too, but the I made it. Maybe it’s not as much of a stretch as I thought. If you’re looking for a super easy naturally gluten-free bread recipe then this is your answer. It may look at first like it has quite a few ingredients, but you can switch out the nuts and seeds for whatever you have in the cupboard (I swapped some of the sunflower seeds for sesame seeds and some of the hazelnuts for pistachios) and, wait for it…you mix it right in the pan. Easy, easy clean up! Next time I’m going to try adding some dried cranberries. The bread is fairly dense, so slice it thin. You can toast it or eat it as is. Add butter, or marmalade or whatever you like on your bread. I’m a convert. Here's the recipe.
This is similar to the Life-changing bread but it’s a flatbread. If you spread it very thin you can make crackers. I got this one from my professor / chef Ema Costantini at George Brown College. I don’t know if she developed the recipe or got it from somewhere else but this is soooo good. I’ve made it many times and served it to guests.
I got sucked down a YouTube hole a little while ago looking at single ingredient recipes. Give it a try. It's interesting, and if you're looking to keep things simple in your food world, worthwhile. Baked potato is a single ingredient recipe, or steamed broccoli, or a boiled egg. Even Applesauce!
But can there really be a single ingredient bread recipe?
This naturally gluten-free bread is also grain-free which makes it keto and paleo friendly too. It's actually made from ground golden flax seed! Baking soda and baking powder are optional. I made this bread and it tastes great, toasts up nicely and definitely works for a sandwich. The texture is much softer and spongier than most gluten free bread. The flavour is quite unique and hardy and for that reason I don't use this all the time, but it is totally in my gluten-free bread rotation.
Here's the recipe on Nutrition Refined: https://nutritionrefined.com/flaxseed-bread/
In an attempt to reduce the amount of those highly processed gums and starches in my diet I've been experimenting with single flour breads.
I kind of think of these under the single ingredient banner even though they have natural leaveners and emulsifiers. Ingredients like flaxseed, psyllium husk, eggs, and yeast help to bind the dough together and give it some lift. The addition of baking powder and baking soda maybe scootch them a little to the right on the continuum but, balance right?
I've loved corn bread since I was a little kid. My grandmother used to call it johnny cake and she'd mix it up special for me when I visited because I loved it so much, and she'd let me eat it warm with a little too much maple syrup. Her version included wheat flour so that's off the table. My gluten-free corn bread recipe was a gift from a fellow George Brown student turned gluten-free baker - thanks Robb!
I recently found this naturally gluten-free bread on the Hungry Hobby blog while searching for single flour breads and it just may be replacing my old, much sweeter banana bread. The only flour is gluten=free oat flour. Is less sweet and cakey and more hearty a savory like a bread. Here's the recipe, give it a try!
I've yet to actually try this one, but it's one the list and I'll keep you updated. The chef in the video compares the method to corn bread but it looks fluffier and it's yeast leavened. If you decide to try, let me know how it goes. Here's the link to the video.