i have been testing various gluten-free recipes over the past year, and each has received mixed reviews from the congregation. The Hawaiian style loaf was moist and sweet, but very crumbly, and crumbs on the carpet at my feet made some parishioners pretty uncomfortable. I’m not sure if they stepped gingerly around the crumbs to avoid making a mess for the custodian, or they were just being careful not to step on Jesus.
During Lent, we went with a soft cracker kind of bread that was very easy to make (half an hour from start to finish) and tasted good, but was a bit too chewy for some folks. At least it didn’t crumble onto the floor, since I scored the loaf before baking and then cut it into half inch squares. When I did an informal survey, asking for feedback on these two recipes, I got three different kinds of responses (not counting the “I don’t understand why we all have to get gluten free if there are only a few people who need it” answers). Great.
This month, I finally hit on a recipe that most people, even the gluten free critics, said was worth repeating. So I offer it to you here. It combines the moist sweetness of the Hawaiian-style loaf with the varied textures of the soft cracker, and – though the inside of the loaf was a bit sticky as I pulled off bits to offer – it didn’t leave a pile of crumbs at my feet.
Good Gluten Free Communion Loaf
Stir together in a large bowl:
2-1/2 c. Gluten-free baking blend (Bob’s works great – just make sure that what you buy already has some xantham gum added)
1/2 c. Buckwheat (despite the “wheat” in its name, it isn’t wheat)
In a separate bowl, combine:
1 c. Warm water
1/4 c. Flax seed
1 T. Dry yeast
3 T. Honey
Let this sit a few minutes, until the yeast starts to bubble.
4 T. Melted margarine
1/4 c. Brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
Add the liquid mixture to the flours and stir together, adding 3/4 – 1 cup warm water as needed to make a thick batter. Beat on high with electric mixer 3 minutes. Cover and let rise in bowl 30 minutes. Gently move batter to a greased 2-quart casserole (I scoop out some batter into 3 or 4 greased muffin cups or small ramekins, to make tiny loaves for homebound Communion distribution, and there is still plenty of batter for the large loaf) and cover to rise another 30-45 minutes.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes (the big loaf may take 5-7 minutes more after you remove the muffins). Bread will be brown on top and spring back slightly when touched gently in the center. Remove to wire rack and cool completely before removing from the pans.
The large loaf easily feeds 150 people and my congregation isn’t that big, so I sometimes use two 1-quart glass casseroles instead of the one large loaf, and freeze the spare loaf for next time. The older folks seem to prefer the less-crumbly and easier to grasp crust, and the children like the soft center bits that I pinch off for them.