I can attest, the joy of making something yourself is unmatched. However, I’m careful not to drive myself crazy living out that sentiment. I’m perfectly fine not making something if it is already available to me at a reasonable price. There’s another kind of joy in supporting the people that work to make things available to us. If something becomes unavailable, then I won’t hesitate to take it into my own hands, quite literally. In Brooklyn, through my membership at the Park Slope Food Co-op, I had easy access to affordable, low-gluten and gluten-free, preservative-free bread. Once, before I had access to those bread options, I made hamburger and hotdog buns for a barbeque. They weren’t very good. They were dense and crumbly, and thus did not function well as hamburger and hotdog holders. Still, I was satisfied biting into the fresh, biscuit-like buns, knowing that they didn’t contain any high fructose corn syrup. After joining the food co-op, I lost a lot of the impetus to continue improving my bread making skills.
I was happy with my weekly loaf of Vermont Bread Company spelt bread. Fresh bread is always better that packaged, but this was good enough for my nightly snack of peanut butter toast. There’s no Vermont Bread Company, or any comparable alternative to my knowledge, in Riyadh. My carb intake has reduced dramatically because I now have to make most doughy treats myself. Don’t get me wrong. This is, by most accounts, a good thing. I’m sure it can be healthier and I’ve loss a little weight as a result. But I really just want a slice of bread from time to time.
So now, out of necessity, I am determined to learn how to make a good loaf of bread. For an everyday loaf of sandwich bread, spelt is my preferred flour. It has some gluten, which makes it good for baking, but not enough gluten to give me digestive problems. Yesterday, I found this spelt bread recipe from The Frugal Farm Wife. I have to say; I definitely think it is worth recommending. For the first time ever, my bread came out tasty and not too dense. I realize now that, not having a mixer with a dough hook, I have not been kneading my dough enough. This recipe suggested kneading spelt dough for four minutes. Following that instruction, my dough came together with plenty of elasticity and proofed well. Unfortunately, the only loaf pan I have right now is an extra-long one from Ikea. My bread came out only half the height of a normal loaf. I would have doubled the recipe if I had enough spelt on hand.
The recipe calls for guar gum, which I don’t have. After some Googling, I discovered that psyllium husk fiber is sometimes used as a substitute for guar gum. Well, I’m a big fan of psyllium husk. I take it religiously in capsule form and I’m always trying to force it on my husband. That suggestion seemed to do the trick and I think I’ve stumbled upon a new way to get psyllium husk in Mike’s diet.