There hasn't been much going on around here, food-wise, for the past few days. Entirely my fault, in a roundabout, not-really-my-fault-at-all sort of way. You see, I've been suffering what apparently has been a lovely bout of food poisoning. (Are we supposed to call it "food-borne illness" now? A little less accusatory?) Whatever you call it, it has felt horrid.
A yummy (but evidently toxic) dinner of take-out Monday was followed by an evening of feeling not quite right. (I blamed it on the too-big mug of hot chocolate I consumed before bed.) Tuesday had me feeling increasingly sick, and by the time Josh got home from the restaurant after midnight, I was curled up on the floor in the bathroom, trying to stay lucid enough to listen to the baby monitor. My body turned against me quite violently, as bodies are wont to do in these sorts of situations, and I assumed that was that and I'd be better in the morning. Not so. Now, by Thursday evening, I have finally felt well enough to eat a real meal (albeit a small, fairly bland one) and am actually awake past 7:30pm. A big change, let me tell you. Is it too much now to hope that I'll be back to normal again by tomorrow?
The thing about being sick when you're also a parent is that you don't get to take sick days. Laying in bed with a cup of tea and napping? Those are luxuries not seen around these parts in ages. Children still need to be fed, messes need cleaning up, and there are the general attempts at keeping everyone happily occupied all day when the last thing you want to do is get out of your chair. All of this requires energy, something in short supply when you have no appetite and are plagued with a constant stomachache. If I was a gluten-eater, I probably would have solved this problem by munching my way through the box of saltines that Josh and Kalen keep insisting they need in the house.
As we know, I am not a gluten-eater. However, during Monday's pre-illness hours, I did bake off the last loaf of gf boule from my most recent batch of dough. This loaf of bread is what has gotten me through these past few days. I've been living on toast, with just a bit of butter and some salt sprinkled over it. It's been the only thing that remotely appealed to me, in the mornings when I could barely get out of bed, and in the afternoons when the thought of preparing dinner filled me with dread.
Oh, gluten-free crusty boule, I loved you before, in an extravagant, "isn't it fun to be eating 'real' bread again?" sort of way, but now I appreciate you so, so much more. That's how it always is, right? When things get tough, that which we turn to - that which literally or figuratively sustains us - becomes something to be truly grateful for. And I really am grateful. Grateful for the timing of that fresh-baked loaf when I needed it most. Grateful that my alterations of the recipe resulted in something that I love more than the original. Grateful that I even stumbled across the original recipe in the first place. And grateful that, as I'm nearing the end of this illness, I still have some bread left, to enjoy in more inspired ways very soon.
The changes that I made to the original recipe are minimal, but really affected the final outcome, to my taste at least. I was a bit put-off by the strong flavor of the sorghum flour in the original, which made it seem closer to a sourdough rather than an all-purpose bread to me. Also, the texture was just a bit too tacky (even when completely cooled), and reminded me of so many other gluten-free breads I've tried and rejected. Happily, it didn't take much to fix these issues. By replacing some of the tapioca starch with potato starch, and some of the sorghum with gf oat flour, this bread really, really works for me. I can cut a slice off a day-old loaf and eat it plain, untoasted, and truly enjoy the texture and flavor, which I think is the ultimate test for gluten-free bread. (As any gluten-free eater will tell you, most gf breads need to be toasted to be really palatable. Which is not a great selling point, in my opinion.)
The only other real change from the original is that I measured all the dry ingredients out by weight, to make baking easier and more accurate. But the method (mixing, storing, and baking) remain the same. So I'm only posting the updated ingredient list here, as you can still go off the instructions in my earlier post. And, as a side-note, I also used this dough several times for pizza, and it came out fantastic. I didn't weigh it out, just glopped some onto an oiled and cornmeal-dusted sheet tray, and used an off-set spatula to spread it out. Let it sit, covered, for about an hour, then baked in a hot oven (400 degrees? I can't remember that part) for about 20 minutes, pulled it out, topped it, and back into the oven until the cheese was nicely browned. We loved it.
Updated Gluten-Free Crusty Boule Ingredients
300 grams brown rice flour
86 grams sorghum flour
65 grams gf oat flour (I grind my own in a coffee grinder)
256 grams tapioca starch
158 grams potato starch
24 grams active dry yeast
10 grams kosher salt
19 grams xanthan gum
2 2/3 fluid cups lukewarm water
4 large eggs, whisked together
1/3 fluid cup canola or olive oil
2 Tbsp honey
super-fine sweet rice flour, for dusting