Saturday, January 2, 2010

vital wheat gluten.

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Dude, I cannot believe I haven't brought this up yet. Not very long ago, I was at the store, skimming over the bulk bins in the hippie aisle (where I buy my flour, granola, polenta, lentils, etc.- because it's cheap AND I AM A HIPPIE) when the tag for vital wheat gluten caught my eye. "Add 1 tbsp. to heavy doughs for a lighter loaf."

Being a former vegetarian, it's not like I'm unfamiliar with the concept of wheat gluten. Good lord, wheat gluten (seitan, mock duck, gimme gimme) was my favorite faux-meat product, to be sure. But, the idea of adding a bit to my bread dough seemed kind of weird. So, I googled it a little bit, and then I started keeping an eye on the ingredients list of the sandwich breads I was buying, and I realized that almost all whole wheat breads have vital gluten added. Which is probably why, when I bake whole wheat bread, it's often gluey and dense, and why store-bought wheat bread is fluffier.

Let me say that I've almost completely given up on 100% whole wheat bread at home. I got some kind of bread bible from the library, I've tried tons of different loaves, and I've never had a huge amount of success. I satisfy myself by baking 2/3 whole wheat loaves, and now I add vital gluten in addition to that, and the results are totally different from what I was getting before.

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Tonight was yet another pizza night- and let me just come right out and say that this geeky picture of me holding a lump of dough is really an excuse to show off my new tattoos, because they look nice in this picture.

So, behold: my new semi-official pizza dough recipe, only very slightly modified from my old standby.

Pizza dough for hippies:

(actually, this is not pizza dough for hippies, THIS is pizza dough for hippies, but whatev)

1 cup of water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
2 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1 1/2 tbsp. honey (use a mild honey, for your sake, like clover. I only had orange blossom and it's kind of overpowering for pizza.)
1 tsp. salt
1 packet of instant yeast
2 tbsp. olive oil


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat gluten, and salt. In another bowl, combine one cup of warm (just barely warm) water, honey, yeast, and olive oil. Let it sit for a second and get foamy, then dump into the dry combination and stir starting from the middle to form batter-like dough, adding more and more from the sides until you can handle it. Knead for 5-10 minutes (although you'll notice immediately if you bake bread often enough that the vital gluten changes the texture of the dough almost immediately) and then let sit in an oiled bowl, covered, for about an hour. Punch down, (SATISFYING SENSATION) and knead back into a ball until no longer spongy. Let sit for 10 minutes or as long as you want while you prep all your pizza goodies, then roll out.


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"Roll out? Oh crap! I don't have a rolling pin!" Oh, you don't? Me neither, my kid stole mine and lost it. He was pretending it was a steam roller. WHERE DID IT GO? Anyway, just cover a wine bottle with plastic wrap (or don't, if you're not a germophobe) and use that instead.

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We're too lazy to get a pizza stone so I bake my pizzas on a cast-iron griddle in my oven at 475ºf.

I don't know if adding vital wheat gluten to your bread is any more or less healthy (I'm guessing LESS, but whatever, it's only a tablespoon per cup of flour) but it makes the bread a lot better if you're using whole wheat, so I say go ahead and experiment with it. I will certainly continue to do so.

38 comments:

Dani said...

I love your space. Everything from the pictures to the food to the writing is perfect.

So very lovely.

wghook said...

If you let some of the whole wheat flour soak in the liquid that you're using for your bread, it will make your loaves softer, lighter and less wheaty. I do the same with the rolled oats when I add them to the bread dough. Usually I start with 2-3 C water and add 1-2 C whole wheat flour and 1 C rolled oats with the yeast and let it rest for about 1/2 hour. I haven't tried it with 100% whole wheat loaves, but it made a big difference in the texture of the partial whole wheat loaves. My husband isn't a big fan of whole wheat bread, and this makes it much more acceptable.

Wendy said...

Thanks for this! I've been thinking about using gluten lately and whether it would work so I could make things like brown rice flour into noodles. I figure it would be way more healthy than the white flour I use and since none of us are gluten intolerant, it should be pretty healthy.

Tanya said...

That looks great! I should try your "hippie" pizza dough too someday. I also used a wine bottle for rolling this year...but I did finally buy a rolling pin a couple of weeks ago :)

http://tanyascooking.blogspot.com/2009/11/pizza-pizza.html

T.

kaci + tom said...

i've always thought about trying vital wheat gluten but never have because i rarely bake bread. but now it sounds like a fun experiment.

ps - your blog is awesome. the most entertaining food blog out there, for sure.

Cate said...

You crack me up! I found a recipe for 100% whole wheat bread that called for gluten so I bought some in bulk a few weeks ago and have been adding it to all sorts of stuff, but I lost the recipe that originally called for it!
It's pretty awesome stuff...hopefully it's not too unhealthy.

Genevieve said...

I live in PDX as well and wanted to put a shout out to Bob's Red Mill (in Milwaukee). All whole grains and their store location has a DIVINE bulk section - which includes vital wheat gluten. A wonderful place to visit if you're any sort of foodie. And while Milwaukee sounds far, it's a quick jaunt and easy to find. I can't wait to try the addition to our bread!

thekitchenette said...

Embrace your hippie-ness, Alicia. Let's shop the bulk food bins together while listening to indie folk music.

And your tattoos are really beautiful. Thanks for not getting any tribals - crappy tribals would have totally ruined the picture of the hippie dough... hehe.

Dani said...

And your new tats are nice as well.

Lisa-Marie said...

I must have this!!!

Also, I always use a wine bottle as a rolling pin - glass stays cold for longer, which means your stuff doesn't stick to it so much.

LindsayRuns said...

I discovered the same thing recently! I bought some a while ago, and started adding it to stuff...though my husband still won't let me stop buying bread for sandwiches. Apparently, my bread is still too "hippie-ish". Your pizza looks good, I'll have to try it!

juliamarisa said...

I AM GOING TO HAVE TO FIND SOME VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN! i have the same problem with my bread and i can't stand it.

Luna et Soleil said...

So it's all right to use (the gluten)? I've never made my own bread, but I'm really interested in doing so, I even got a bread-making machine, and I wanna try it out.

janeen said...

Is there a big difference in dough texture with the instant yeast versus dry active? My cookbook says not to use the instant kind, but doesn't offer an explaination.

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

Genevieve, Milwaukie is kind of a hike, but dig this- all the bulk flours and whatnot in the bulk bins are Fred Meyer are actually from Bob's Red Mill- it's on the nutrition info label. You don't have to go all the way to Milwaukie to get it in bulk! <3

Jon said...

Nice tatts.

I saw your husband in the Fubonn parking lot the other day. Not that I'm some crazy stalker or anything. I saw him getting in his car, and I was like, "Whoa, that dude looks familiar." It was like spotting a celebrity.

Sunday said...

This is exactly what I went through regarding diastatic malt. 1 tsp. to 3 C. of flour makes a noticeably better loaf of bread. I felt like I had a secret kept from me.

setinink said...

loooove tisdale wine

Beth said...

Where do you get your bulk food at?!

Ps- thanks for informing us about the potato champion poutine cart. i just got really obsessed with poutine in toronto over new years and was wondering how to get me some more of that....

Alicia Lynn Carrier said...

beth: FRED MEYER! woooo

Melissa said...

Hello Alicia,

We've selected you as our Foodista Food Blog of the Day for tomorrow, January 7th! Your blog for Vital Wheat Gluten will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours. This is a new feature that we recently launched and are thrilled to post your blog.

Since you are now a part of the Foodista Featured Blogger of The Day Community, we've created a special badge for you to display proudly on your blog sidebar. I couldn't find your email on your blog to send you the access code for the special badge, but I want to make sure you get it if you are interested. Please send me an email and I'll send it right away.
We are really enjoying your blog and look forward to seeing your recipes, tips and techniques on Foodista! If you would not like to be recognized on Foodista please let me know and I will remove your blog from our queue.

Cheers,

Melissa


--
Melissa Peterman
melissa@foodista.com
Editor and Community Developer
www.foodista.com
Foodista- The Cooking Encyclopedia everyone can edit!

Jessica said...

I read in the test kitchen magazine that adding more water to your pizza dough recipe also makes it more airy-They would recommend 1 2/3 cup water to 3 cups flour. Haven't tried it out but thought that might interest you.

Miss Kate said...

Alicia,

I need to go down to my nearest bulk food bins (where I buy almost everything!) and get some gluten. My breads always turn out pretty but dense as bricks. *sigh*

Some day, I'll turn out a good loaf of bread, I swear!

I also like your wine bottle method for dough. I have a rolling pin, but I like that the glass bottle stays cold longer and doesn't melt the butter in dough. Pizza tonight!

Miss Kate said...

All the bulk flours at Fred Meyer are from Bob's? SCORE!

chefany said...

First of all you are way too young to be a "hippie"
BUT I love your flair with food and your passion for healthy cooking and baking! You are too damned cute!! I am keeping my eye on this one!
Check out mine if you have the time...

Tea said...

You know, I read somewhere that adding gluten to flour made it into the mixture they sell as "bread flour" at the store (though probably cheaper and no need to keep two different flours on hand). I have a bag, but have only used it when the recipe calls for. Very cool if you can use it to lighten wheat breads.

Do you ever use a sourdough starter? Pim has a great no knead sourdough bread I got hooked on last year. Uses spelt and rye flours and it is amazingly good.

Love the shot of the wine bottle. I remember rolling out fresh pasta like that when I lived in Japan and, partway through the pasta making, realized I had no rolling pin!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi..just found you! great blog! i just recently started adding wheat gluten to my bread and i am sold on it. what a difference it makes!

Viva and Chloe said...

Love your blog too much! You crack me up and now we know you are beautiful too. Been making your hippie chow because I'm a hippie too. Love it. Thanks for all of it. I'll check out the wheat gluten. Been wondering about that too.

xo

kiss my spatula said...

my mom recently introduced me to wheat gluten...and i was skeptical, to say the least. now, i know, i must give it a try based your results.

Amanda said...

Sweet...I just happen to be making pizza tonight so this will come in handy...

Nice tattoos :)

Chris said...

Alicia, I use white whole wheat flour for baking bread and find that I don't need extra gluten. It has baking characteristics similar to white bread flour and doesn't have that heavy wheat flavor that whole wheat flour from red wheat (that is, plain ol' "whole wheat"). BRM sells it, though I don't know if FM does.

k.krapp said...

please tell me that is a chicken & cabbage in your tattoo. because youre my new hero.

LoveFeast Table said...

Just wanted to say I love that first pictures....something about the stainless steel...I'm just into that lately. Luv your blog awesome pics and great writing!

Peppermint Alley said...

Will have to try this out. We usually replace about 1/3 of our water with white wine. Then drink the rest of the bottle through the making and eating of pizza. Mmmmmm

ps: I doubt that the extra gluten is unhealthy. It is processed but it is high in protein while also low in fat. Gluten in general gets a bad rap since some people can't tolerate any tiny amount of gluten from any source, but if you can eat wheat, the extra gluten should be fine.

Colleen said...

I found your blog by google searching "adding vital wheat gluten to no knead whole wheat bread" (it was the second page that came up). I'm not a big blog reader to date, and I'm kind of overwhelmed by all of the food blogs out there these days, but after reading yours for hours I realized how awesome it is! I am also originally from Portland (not too many of us around anymore) but now I'm living out my dream by starting an organic farm with my significant other in the Ozarks of Arkansas. We too will have chickens in spring of 2011! And, while I do eat fish these days, I was vegetarian for over 10 years and vegan for 3 ... how life changes, but I feel much healthier. Anyways, just wanted to give you a native Portland shoutout and tell you that I love your blog and will keep reading. Good luck on your kitchen remodel!

KUB said...

While googling for vital wheat gluten, found your blog. Love it! Will be following closely to see how things go on.........

Clintonville Leather said...

Weird, I just made this exact recipe off the top of my head. I typed vital wheat gluten in pizza crust in to google to see what to expect while I wait for the dough to proof. I have the same problems with my wheat bread. I think a lot of cook books address this by telling you to buy a high gluten flour but no store sells it! I just started making seitan and I don't think this will make it less healthy. Getting excited about this pizza! I don't know why I never use a rolling pin I have been making pizza a long time and I always just liked doing it by hand. It also is a mess to flour the counter. I just shape it into a oil and corn meal coated sheet pan by hand and it works pretty good.

Clintonville Leather said...

Oh also, I don't know if anyone could use the tip but if you bake a lot and have a GFS in your area you can get 2 pounds of yeast for like $6. That's gotta be about 30 of those packets it also keeps well in the freezer.