Friday, August 21, 2009

I just made some gluten-free soda farls...

and thought I should do some jotting.

Mother put me up to this the other day, mentioning that she now exclusively eats her own home-made soda farls instead of buying loaves that she can't finish on her own. It dawned on me that I'd never made soda farls myself, ever. So I went on a quest for a gluten-free version, motivated in part by the imminent demise of my bread machine, which still bakes, but no longer heats during the proving stages. I found some good recipes, among them Living Wheat-lessly, but was hampered by the rundown of the store cupboards before we go off to Sweden on Sunday. Finally desperation drove me to knock something together yesterday lunchtime, when we ran out of bread of all varieties. Hence the following.

The first lot were white, the second "wholewheat" - not really wholewheat, obviously, otherwise I would be in a very bad way atm, but fake gluten-free whole-fibre-ish.

Anyhoo, the flour blend for the first batch was:

8oz Rice Flour
8oz Tapioca Flour
8oz Soy Flour

Sorry about the Imperial units, but this was left over from a blend in a US book, so it's either cups or ounces I'm afraid. And I have learned to my cost (my nummy, nummy cost) that a US cup has nothing whatsoever in common with my coffee mug.

Mix 10.5 oz from this flour blend with 3/4 tsp baking powder, pinch cream of Tartar, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Rub in 3 tbsp cold butter (I use Stork).
Add 1 tbsp sugar (but see next recipe), mix and put a well in the middle.

In another large bowl, beat 2 eggs, mix in 8 fl oz natural yogurt, and add 1/2 tsp baking soda, whisking like mad.

AT THIS POINT YOU NEED TO START MOVING LIKE BUGGERY. The yogurt and baking soda mixture will start fizzing, and you need to combine it with the flour as if the very hounds of Hell were baying at your heels for the lickings.

It will be more like a batter than a bread dough, so just pour it into a preheated griddle pan (I used a wok - a frying pan would do: as long as it's heavy-based and has a lid, it doesn't matter). No oil, no flouring. Keep an eye on it, it should be mostly cooked through in 20mins, but flip it over anyway to finish cooking through. Now, I don't know if this makes any difference, but it's what my tribe does: take it out and wrap it in a dishtowel until it's cool.

It was a bit rubbery - no doubt because I put 2 eggs in instead of one - and too sweet for my liking, although I would consider it as a basis for a fruit soda. There it is on the left - with my home-made blackberry jam in the background, made from berries picked by the Mighty Offspring himself, awww...

The second lot uses this flour blend:

8oz Rice Flour
8oz Tapioca Flour
8oz Quinoa Flour (because I was out of Soy, hah! and quinoa is also a high-protein flour)

The same method - 10.5 oz flour blend with 3/4 tsp baking powder, pinch cream of Tartar, and 1/2 tsp salt, rub in 3 tbsp butter. NO sugar, but instead add a goodly fistful of toasted soya bran, available from Holland & Barrett.

Prepare buttermilk by mixing 8 fl oz milk with 1 tbsp vinegar, then mix in 1 - not 2 - beaten egg, 1/2 tsp baking soda: this will also fizz, but a little slower. You still need to get a wriggle on.

This mix isn't as liquid, and could probably be formed. I didn't, though - straight into the preheated wok and away.

It was a little crumbly when I tried to cut it when still warm, but turned lofty and elastic when cold, just like it should be. The lack of sugar was perfect - it was just the right degree of tangy and savoury. The slight bitterness of the quinoa also works well for this faux wheaten: soy flour would be just a bit too soft and waxy. It's not overly wholewheaty, more like the soft, spongy Ormo wheaten loaves than the nutty bricks of my childhood, but I was going easy on the soya bran for this experiment. Next time, though...

You'll notice neither recipe uses xanthan gum, guar gum, or powdered milk, which would be quite usual in GF baking: they provide the rubbery, gluey sponginess of, well, gluten. It's not actually essential that soda bread has this sponginess, though; it doesn't have that character even when made with wheat. But I did wonder why the second farl wasn't as crumbly as I'd expect. The first obviously got its extreme sponginess from the accidental egg overdose, but that wasn't the case with the second. Then I remembered: milk + vinegar + heat = casein plastic!



  1. You are handling the challenge of gluten free very well!

  2. A US cup is 8 oz volume - you can fill a pyrex measuring jug up to the line w/o packing the flour while it's on the scale to get the metric equivalent. . . =)