Bread baking is an ancient activity.
But as more and more people go gluten-free in their diets, the ingredient that gives bread its unique texture--gluten--is being dropped from bread recipes.
Not to be discouraged, bakers have been toiling away to give the gluten-intolerant masses a loaf worthy of lust and baked treats just as satisfying as their gluten-filled counterparts. Sharon Loseke of Parma's Silver Sage Bakery is among those who have taken up the task.
Loseke is no slacker--she helps run a rodeo bull-breeding operation and works 40 hours a week as a financial analyst. In between jobs, she recently showed Boise Weekly how to whip up a batch of her dense Ezekiel bread.
"The recipe for Ezekiel bread goes back to the Old Testament and is traditionally a sprouted-grain bread," Loseke explained. "The original has wheat, spelt and barley," all of which are all difficult for someone with a gluten intolerance to digest.
"I [still] call it Ezekiel bread because I put in four kinds of grains and four kinds of beans, which is also the same as the traditional recipe," Loseke added. "Of course, after that, I took total artistic license with the recipe to make it gluten-free."
Loseke said she uses a whole grain, all-purpose flour from Sun Flour Mills, a local producer of baking flours and mixes. She then creates her own mixture of ground dried beans (lentil, kidney, white northern and pinto, along with some millet). When she's baking at home, Loseke uses "a little, tiny KitchenAid mixture attachment" to grind the beans.
"I've about burned up this mixer because I've gotten it a little hot," she said, laughing.
The flour-and-bean mix is combined with salt and some xanthan gum, which is what Loseke uses to replace eggs as a binder.
"Xanthan gum is a very innocent-looking, cream-colored powder. It is actually derived from corn, and when you get it wet, it becomes a binder," Loseke said.
The wet ingredients include a healthy dose of honey, olive oil and warm water. Yeast is added and left to bubble before wet and dry ingredients are incorporated, spooned into a bread pan and left to rise.
"It's a very thick dough, like the sweet breads," Loseke said.
After it bakes for 25-30 minutes, Loseke dumps the bread out of the pan to cool. It's dense, similar in texture and weight to cornbread, and takes a while to reach room temperature. If not eaten right away, the bread--and any other gluten-free bakery item--should be stored in the refrigerator.
Ezekiel's crumbly texture means it's not ideal for traditional deli-style sandwiches. But it makes "a killer grilled cheese or french toast," Loseke noted. The bread is also on the sweet side, with half a cup of honey per loaf.
"I just put it in a nonstick pan with some butter, and grill it that way and it gets an extra crust on it," Loseke said.
Loseke's breads, rolls and sweets can be found at the Silver Sage Bakery booth at Capital City Public Market, Boise Co-op, Mrs. Beesley's Healthy Foods and Karcher Ranch Market in Nampa, and her cornbread is used by Archie's Place food truck.