Friday, January 26, 2007

Gluten-Free Baguettes, Breadsticks, Bread Recipe




This is a picture of Laura's newest recipe, one that yields lightly-herbed Gluten-Free Baguettes, Mini-Baguettes, Breadsticks, and/or French-Bread with a fantastic texture and taste. The recipe is highly adaptable, and can form any of a few varieties of bread just by altering the size and shape of each loaf or stick (even down to tiny little crispy breadsticks the size of straws; we also plan to try making both soft and crispy pretzels with a variation of this GF recipe).

I promised to get this new gluten-free baguette recipe published this week, and I definitely dragged my feet a bit, waiting until today - Friday! If anyone was waiting anxiously for it, I apologize for being distracted. I actually had the recipe online yesterday over at the book site, but only today wrote a corresponding blog entry.

I was caught up in the launch event for Microsoft Office 2007 here in Cleveland on Wednesday, and have been busy working with the latest MS Excel features and such ever since. If anyone reading is interested, I published my Microsoft Office 2007 Review here on my investing/technology blog. It seems like nearly everyone uses Microsoft office these days, so who knows, perhaps even the gluten-free readers will enjoy the review :)

If that wasn't enough, I also became consumed with finishing reading the January 2007 special issue of American Psychologist dealing with Leadership. I found it rather interesting, and also pulled this following quote from page 37 inside a segment called "A Systems Model of Leadership" by Robert J. Sternberg of Tufts University - discussing the concept of "Practical Intelligence":

Practical intelligence is the set of skills and dispositions used to solve
everyday problems by applying knowledge gained from experience to purposefully adapt to, shape, and select environments. It thus involves changing oneself to suit the environment (adaptation), changing the environment to suite oneself (shaping), or finding a new environment within which to work (selection).

This got me thinking about how the average gluten-free person is so directly implicated in this paragraph. We all go through at least one of these changes - adaptation - when we first learn that we can no longer consume gluten after being diagnosed as Celiac or discovering we are otherwise wheat or gluten intolerant. We have no choice (aside from causing our bodies harm) - we must adapt to our new glutenfree environment.

Next, quite a few of us have moved through the subsequent phase - shaping - as we shape our environment to better accommodate our condition. My personal approach to shaping was to tackle one of the first perceived obstacles to remaining gluten-free; that was, the lack of great tasting gluten-free foods from which to choose, and on which I could rely, to satisfy me and help me remain gluten-free for life. In particular, I needed some great desserts to lean on through my period of adaptation, and with the help of my wife and daughter, I achieved that goal and ultimately published a gluten-free cookbook to help others facing the same situation. I have shaped the gluten-free environment for the better, as have many others within the gluten-free community.

Finally, this leads to enabling selection and finding new environments within which to work. By definition, the only environments all of us gluten-free and coeliac types can live within are ones without gluten. But, this does not imply we must select environments that are lacking in fulfillment, flavor, and overall enjoyment. Sure, we have complications to consider, but who doesn't sooner or later in life? Many of our issues can be addressed through dietary concerns and related lifestyle changes. There are ups and downs along the way, but we generally have the ability to choose to lead rather normal lives.

We have all been forced to work on our practical intelligence skills in order to solve the everyday problems of Celiac Disease and gluten-intolerance. We apply apply our knowledge and experience to purposefully adapt to, shape, and select our environment. Given that "practical intelligence" is one of the criteria posited as essential for leadership, perhaps our gluten-free experience has given us all a dose of valuable leadership skills exercise.

I'm not sure if that argument will hold any weight if used to argue for a promotion at work, but one way or the other, you have faced, and worked through, the steps required to develop this quality of practical intelligence that is considered a valuable trait when it comes to leadership assessment.

Well, that's enough for the gluten-free blog today, and it should give you something to think about while you're baking our newest gluten-free bread recipe this blog posting started out with. Enjoy!

10 comments:

Lynn Barry said...

Good point. In order to survive the best we can we have had to scientifically recreate our lifestyle. That's brilliant.
Take the positives and make them your reality instead of dwelling on the negatives. In the end the negatives become positive.
YOU ARE A WONDERFUL PERSON, MIKE!

Mike Eberhart said...

Thanks Lynn. I hope I can live up to your view of me :) You are also a wonderful person! Keep up the blogging and baking.

Rochelle said...

The bread looks great -- do you think that one can substitute sorghum for the teff? Also, I'm interested to see that this dough seems amenable to shaping -- maybe it can be the basis of a Challah bread (without the herbs)? Thanks for the great recipes.

Mike Eberhart said...

Rochelle,

We have not tried Sorghum instead of Teff, but I presume it could work.

A couple things to consider regarding substitutions here: The teff is what gives the bread some of its wonderful flavor, and, Teff is a very heavy grain. So, where 1/4 Cup Teff is used, I'm not sure if a one-to-one sub using Sorghum would produce the same texture. If anything, chances are the bread would bea bit lighter, which should be fine, but I'm only guessing. If your substitition desires are for lack of having the grain on hand, perhaps Buckwheat would be fine too, or just increase the Millet to make up for the Teff. Chances are, since it is only 1/4 cup of a flour (out of around 4 cups of flours total) that is being changed, the flavor, texture, and rising will remain somewhat similar.

Bottome line: practice makes perfect and playing with the formula is what makes baking fun :)

So, best wishes, and if you do bake it with a variation that works out well, let me know and I can post the variation instructions. Thanks.

Michelle aka Meesh said...

Reshaping and modification is what GF living is all about. Actually - right at the heart of the matter it is what LIVING is all about! Right from the time of my diagnosis I thought "how lucky that I do not have to be on medication for the rest of my life". Positive thinking.

You have such a great way of putting it down on paper. Who knew your two passions would merge like they are?

Mike Eberhart said...

Meesh, I'm with you on this one. When I was first trying to figure out what was wrong with me, doctors were giving me all sorts of tests and suggesting possibilities that were not exactly something anyone wants to consider. I was genuinely concerned that something major may be wrong. And, oh how much better to discover I can return to normal just by avoiding gluten! How much more positive can anything get?! I'll take it :)

As for my two passions... not sure which two those are, since I have many. Life is short. Do everything you can and lead life to the fullest! I have so many interests and pursuits, I find it tough to give each the attention I'd like. Writing is one, and I'm glad you and others enjoy my ramblings. Thanks for reading!

Neshama said...

I would like to make the French Bread/Baguettes
but I would also like to stay away from
cornstarch
teff flour
flaxseed

Can you recommend substitutes and/or can I just omit any/all of them?

Mike Eberhart said...

Neshama,
Sorry, but we do not have time to try recipe variations that accommodate all sorts of substitution possibilities. Since there are so many potential ingredients, and so many that individual people may wish to add/subtract, the permutations are endless. We can only present the recipe as it is now, knowing that it works as is now, and leave all the custom-tuning (for allergies or whatever reasons) up to those that wish to tune per their needs. If you do change the recipe, and come up with a great alternative formula that fits you desired ingredient-list, feel free to post it here with the results. m

Christy said...

Hey there... this may be really late... but here's a question... can you substitute potato flour or another flour (besides the rice flour) and it taste as good, or the consistency be the same? I am intolerant to rice.

Mike Eberhart said...

Christy,
I'd only be guessing. Sorry to say, but you will probably have to do what we do when creating all our recipes from scratch: experiment, try things out, see what happens, adjust, repeat. Having not used potato starch as an alternate, I just do not know. It may work, it may not. I like trying such variations with 1/4-batches or 1/2-batches where possible to save money (on lost ingredients if things don't quite work out as I hoped). We have gone through a LOT of wasted ingredients perfecting recipes; sadly, it is a consequence of creating new versions of things. At least the results are usually "acceptable" to the local squirrels, raccoons, etc. even if we have to try, try again :)