I’m really excited to participate in the Gluten Free Ratio Rally! I had considered waiting until the new site is up, but I was urged to participate. So, here I am!
This month’s Ratio Rally topic is quick breads. It is stated on Wisegeek.com that quick breads are
breads which are prepared with leavening such as baking soda or powder, rather than yeast.
These include some classics like what I have for you today, banana bread. One really fantastic thing about quick breads, other than being extremely simple and having no rise time, is that you can put just about anything in them. I even saw a savory quick bread containing caramalized onions, and another with brown butter. You can also hide vegetables from your picky kids. I’m sure you’ve heard of zucchini bread.
If you’re not sure what flavors go together you can do like I did and check out the book “The Flavor Bible.” With this book is that you can look up an ingredient and see what goes well with it. There are actually 2 pages focusing on bananas alone.
The one tool you’ll have to have to bake via a ratio is a scale. I bought mine for twenty dollars, but you might be able to find one for even less (you can certainly find one for more). You’ll want a scale that lets you tare it (meaning put something on it and then set the scale back to zero). This makes it so you can measure everything in one bowl. This is especially useful if you don’t have a dishwasher.
Last year Michael Ruhlman released his book “Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking.” Here’s how Alton Brown described why Ruhlman’s book is a wonderful concept:
…having a ratio in hand is like having a secret decoder ring that frees you from the tyranny of recipes.
He’s absolutely right. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a recipe in front of me saying to use a cup of xyz flour, but I had run out. I had abc flour on hand, but I didn’t know if I could substitute it one to one because they were so different when poured into a measuring cup. Take brown rice flour versus garbanzo bean flour. They fill a measuring cup completely differently. They definitely do not substitute one to one for volumetric baking. However, if you know the weight of one in the recipe you can substitute in the weight of the other in a one to one ratio.
I heard a well respected baker on The Splendid Table a few years ago say that you know a good cookbook by whether or not they tell you how they measure their flour. I now say, you know a good cookbook if they bake by weight. I definitely have some awesome cookbooks on my shelf using volumetric measurements, but I have had some extreme variations in the outcomes based on the amount of flour that ended up in the measuring cup.
Thank goodness Michael Ruhlman has put so much work and time into figuring out these ratios, these relationships between ingredients, for us so we can go into our kitchens and cook without fear.
Now, I must say that I didn’t have access to the charts for the ratios until today! However, with a bit of GoogleFu I was able to find the ratio for quick breads. I did have to experiment quite a lot, and I’m still working on figuring out the exact amount of baking powder to get some more loft from my bread, but I wanted to share my result with you. Besides, good things come in short packages too.
The ratio is 2 parts flour, 2 parts liquid, 1 part eggs, 1 part butter/fat. I treated the sugar as a 1 as well, all on its own. Then it’s about 1 tsp baking powder per five ounces of flour according to Ruhlman. The best way to start is to take the weight of your egg as it is really the least adjustable ingredient. I have made this bread before with bananas as the egg substitute, so I know it works. You’ll just want to measure out about 97g (as that’s how much my eggs weighed) of banana and mash it.
Be aware that, although we are working in ratios and weights some flours are more hydroscopic (they love moisture) than others. My blend has a small amount of coconut flour in it, but if yours has a lot you may need to increase your liquid and break the ratio. But that’s okay. Just have fun. If it at least tastes good and bakes up like a pudding you’ve still got something yummy to eat. You can even turn hockey puck hard bread into delicious sweet croutons (use in salads or on ice cream) or bread crumbs for a pie crust.
The texture of this could fool anyone into thinking it’s wheat flour, and it doesn’t contain any xanthan gum or flax. I made some cupcakes the other night with XG and realized how weird it makes batters. They’re spongey and sticky with XG. I also used whole cane sugar that has never had the molasses stripped from it. This results in a product which has the molasses flavor without fooling around with the liquids in the ratio. Fresh grated nutmeg may seem like an expensive thing, but in reality it’s cheaper than buying ground nutmeg. Ground nutmeg will lose its potency within a year, but whole nutmeg stays fresh almost indefinitely. You just need a little microplane grater to run it across. My step-mom gave me mine, and I bet you can find them cheaply at garage sales if price is a concern.
While the bread is still short, it is delicious. You’re welcome to try doubling the baking powder to increase the height. I’ll try it again soon, but feel free to experiment! The bread is actually quite good toasted to a hard crisp and treated like biscotti with a cup of bitter sipping chocolate. Yum!
Gluten Free Classic Banana, Oat and Pecan Quick Bread
Preheat your oven to 350F.
- 97g salted butter, melted
- 97g whole eggs
- 194g milk
- 194g gluten free blend of your choice
- Approximately 1 1/4 tsp, or 3g of baking powder
- Approximately 1 1/2g sea salt
- 97g of whole cane sugar, formerly known as Rapadura
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg, or pre-ground
- 3 very ripe Maui apple bananas, or 1 1/2 large bananas, mashed
- 15g of gluten free rolled oats
- 30g chopped pecans
Whisk your eggs and milk together, add in the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices. Fold in the bananas until evenly distributed. Mix it all together with a spoon, and then stir in the oats and nuts. Pour into a generously greased loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick punctured into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan, then remove and enjoy!
Here’s the lovely thing, if you keep taring your scale as you work you can really dirty only one bowl if you’re a very careful measurer and don’t spill too much in with the liquids. If you’re fearful of this, just use two bowls. No measuring cups required (unless you use them to scoop the flour out with).