Chickpea Flour Bread

dsc_0162-psd2 I was in a baking mood today and opened the pantry to see what I could concoct with my supplies on-hand. I came across some chickpea flour (from a previously failed attempt at making Naan) and decided to redeem myself with this silky legume meal by baking bread. Now I have to admit, breads are not my strong suit. I’m not sure why, but I often have trouble hitting the bread trifecta – good rise, crusty exterior and soft, pillowy interior.  You know, the perfect loaf.  I dug around my cookbook shelf and found what looked to be a fairly straightforward recipe in an old baking book. I made a few adaptations (since I didn’t have all ingredients it called for) then crossed my fingers and away I went!

DSC_0191-6Chickpea flour (also known as Gram flour) is talcum powder-like in texture and has a mild, slightly nutty flavor. Traditionally used in Indian cooking and baking, it’s gluten-free making it a good alternative to traditional flours. Milled from the garbanzo bean or chickpea, this flour has a higher proportion of carbohydrates and proteins as well.

Well, I’m happy to say that today the bread-gods were with me! My loaf turned out really well. When baking with chickpea flour it will not rise as much as a bread flour will,  but it does offer a beautiful golden color on the crust and a nice moist, light texture on the inside.

While it was still warm, I sliced off a piece and enjoyed it with a decadent European butter and a wonderfully bitter orange marmalade. Delicious!

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Chickpea Flour Bread
This particular recipe calls for cinnamon and red pepper flakes. I was a bit suspicious of these two odd-fellows at first,  fearing they may overtake the bread. But to my surprise, they didn’t at all. Actually they were very subtle and added an interesting dimension of flavor.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast (1 package of quick, self-rising)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2/3 cup warm simmered milk *

In a bowl of a stand mixer, sift all-purpose flour. Make a well in the middle and pour in warm water and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let yeast sit in water until it bubbles.

With a dough hook, start mixing flour & yeast on low speed. Slowly add sugar, oil, chickpea flour, salt, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes. Mix on medium speed until it resembles fresh breadcrumbs.

Slowly add the milk- just enough to bring the dough together (you may not need all of the milk). Knead dough in mixer for 5 minutes until dough has pulled away from the side and forms a ball.

Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in volume.

When risen, gently push down dough and knead on a floured board for 1-2 minutes. Shape to fit a well-oiled loaf pan (I used a 12.5L x 4w pan) and allow to rise again in pan for 30-45 minutes. Note: dough will not rise as much as a traditional flour.

Preheat oven to 400F whilst dough is rising. Once risen, reduce heat to 375F and bake for 30-35 minutes or until you can smell the bread. Cool before slicing.

* start out with more milk than you need. In a large sauce pot, add 3/4 cups cold milk. Simmer on med-high heat just until it comes to the boil. Then lower heat and reduce liquid to 2/3 cups. Remove from heat allow to come to lukewarm temperature before adding to flour mixture.

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