29/09/2012

Almond Loaf

Bread! Richard Nikoley inspired me with his number of attempts to make a decent bread from gluten-free ingredients, but it is his first attempt that was the most successful for me and one which I wanted to perfect.

The first time I made this, I used almond butter. Getting a hold of almond butter that has not been messed with proved a difficult task and had me resorting to the internet. £4.95 plus £2.50 P&P and a few days later I had my almond butter ... all 236g of the stuff!

What now? Blend with three extra large eggs, four if yours are not gargantuan, a splash of cider vinegar, some sea salt and a heaped teaspoon of baking soda. Blend the lot together with a fork and pour out into a buttered dish and into the oven at 180C for 45 minutes.

It was good! Reassuringly expensive at something like £10 a loaf from which I gleaned about 8 slices. Impractically expensive and so something do reserve as a treat.

I got thinking ...

Almond butter can't be that hard to make, can it? Well, it turns out that it isn't.

What you do is get a couple of cups of almonds, pulse them in a food processor a couple of times and then set it on low for a few minutes. This processing breaks down the almonds into flour, then the magic happens ... the oils are released and you wind up with sloppy butter.

Easy! Except I don't have a food processor. I do have a stick blender.

Armed with a bag of almond flour (that's ground almonds), I set about trying to get this magic to happen. It wasn't happening ... the flour impacted into the blended and needed clearing out every few seconds of blending and the blender itself got so hot, I feared it would pack up altogether.

Change of tack ...

I added an egg and started blending again. Better. I added a second egg and then the third. This was about right. So, add your eggs to the ground almonds and blend. I blended this for a few minutes and think the oils were released, but just to make sure (since I didn't know what processing had gone on to make the ground almonds), poured in a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil.

Add a pinch of sea salt, a splash of cider vinegar and a heaped teaspoon of baking soda. Blend the lot together with a fork and pour out into a buttered dish and into the oven at 180C for 45 minutes.

The result was a perfectly usable loaf, which wasn't eaten with the meal it was intended for, but made a smashing breakfast of soft boiled eggs and soldiers - toasted fingers with obscene amounts on butter on.

18 comments :

  1. A pint of sea salt???

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    1. Haha! Good catch, Laura. I've corrected it to "a pinch of sea salt". I wonder how many people have read this and are now frothing at the mouth gasping for water ...

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  2. I can't remember the last time I had egg and soldiers. Bread looks very nice. What's the consistency like? Could you make a sandwich?

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    1. Hi Gary - Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall does something he calls a DIY Hollandaise, which is a soft boiled egg, top cut off, knob of butter in the top and a drop of lemon juice into which you dip asparagus spears. I tried it and it was a lot of fun, but soft boiled egg and soldiers is something I didn't know I missed. I have very fond memories of sitting with my Grandmother as a child eating this.

      Consistency is good - it's not stretchy like "plastic bread", but can take a good bend. It will snap, but it is real food. I reckon the addition of some manioc flour into the mix would give it the needed stretchiness and lightness to make a larger loaf. Notice here that the size of loaf is small. To make a traditional sandwich, you'd need to slice it longways on the horizontal and you'd probably get four slices out of it. That makes it an expensive sandwich, but if you want a sandwich, why the heck not?

      More experimentation to come ... I am perfectly happy eating manioc flour, or "sour starch" as it's called the way I buy it as Brazilian cheese bread flour.

      It's not something that will become a habit. It could easily, though - it's a damn sight easier than making wheat flour bread. I actually wonder why they go to all the trouble they do to turn wheat flour into bread, but guess the industrial process makes short work of it now.

      This basic recipe would happily accept seeds, other nuts (blended), herbs even, perhaps even some of the quantity as shredded aubergine, courgette or mashed banana. The trick is balancing up the slop versus potential fluff once the baking powder has done its thing.

      Do the recipe once, pure, then play.

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  3. This looks like a wonderful loaf :) When you say a "bag" of almond flour, how big was it ? I'd love to try this recipe...

    I've known about Paleo for at least two or three years now, but it wasn't until I read Wheat Belly in the last couple of weeks that I've gone "Ohhhhhhh ! Wheat REALLY IS that bad" bit of a "Duh" moment, I have to say.....

    The shame of it is that I make artisinal sourdough loaves at home :( So I'm now looking for recipes made with flax, almond and coconut flour, and your looks like one of the best !!

    Thankyou !
    Molly

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    1. Hi Molly - the almond flour was, I think, 200g. Nothing special, just ground almonds which got ground further once the wet stuff was added.

      Almond butter is just almonds which are blended and blended and blended ... once a paste, they start to release their oils, at which point it becomes "butter". Ground almonds are just almonds that are part way down that process. If you have a food processor, you can continue that process ... I on;y had a stick blender which would have broken, hence blending it once wet.

      It's not an exact recipe and yes, the method looks scatty, but this kind of bread really is quite simply a case of "some almond, a couple of eggs, baking powder and salt" ... given the dramatic difference in egg size, some experimentation is necessary, but the general rule of thumb is there.

      Good luck, have fun ...

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  4. Apparently best to soak and slow dry almonds before making or using to get rid of Phytic acid.

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    1. Indeed! Phytic acid is always a concern with potential foods that want to fight back but were not born with claws, teeth or good negotiating skills. Breaking that natural defence through soaking or fermenting is most definitely knowledge and skill we've developed.

      Don't think this is a staple. Dear Lord! Please don't ... I am so opposite to that sort of thinking.

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  5. The bread looks great, but where can I find your recipe?

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    1. It's right there ... third paragraph.

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  6. Almond flour is not just ground almond; it has had the oil removed, so it simply couldn't ever be made into almond butter. I love the way you've thought about and experimeted with this. Looking forward to trying it.

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    1. That would explain it, Susan. It's been a while so I had to read back through ....

      Like supermarket guacamole, oiled up with some el-crappo oil because the good avocado oil has already been expelled, I guess almond flour is such a by-product, one where the oils have already gone to be sold as simply almond oil.

      The first time I made such a bread, it was with almond butter. That worked as expected. This experiment worked out fine, but it did need that leap of imagination, mid-production. I'm sure I've made it since with almond, just almonds, ground down and down and down and down until the oils came out and did their magic.

      This is the fun and the joy of this kind of cooking. It's finding your way despite interruption, even disaster. I don't do recipes - I do ... erm, do adventure.

      Thanks for popping in. It's been a whole year since I last wrote anything on this website and I suppose I should put in an update. I've just been living the way I do and not really thinking too hard about it ...

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  7. Im so confused. Wheres the recipe???

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    1. If you came here looking for a recipe, I'm not surprised you're confused.

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  8. This sounds like a recipe that's right up my alley! I love kitchen experiments! I have all the ingredients, too.

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  9. I had a pound of almond flour so I doubled the recipe, processed the almond flour in two batches, and just had a warm slice slathered in ghee. It was wonderful and very easy. Wish I could post a pic.

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    1. Great! I'm glad you enjoyed it! It's been a good while since I made any of this up ... I might just make up a batch.

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