Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Life Altering Epiphany

Not everyone is wheat-free by choice.  Over the past fifteen years wheat has been an-on-again-off-again thing in my life.  In the past it’s been easy to give up all things wheat.  This time some figurative kicking and screaming was involved in climbing back onto this particular wagon.  Everyone in my family would agree that nine months of wheat deprivation has made me a bit cranky.

My gluten-free friends raved about the “flour” they were using to bake cookies, cakes, and other goodies.  Down came the gluten-free cookbook and out I went to purchase the necessary ingredients.  Experimenting is my favorite thing to do in the kitchen.  And, experiment I did.  But, alas, it soon became apparent that for me (and everyone else in my family) wheat was wheat and that was that.

DH and I were in Montreal a few weeks ago and stopped at one of our favorite eateries for buckwheat crepes.  I thought to myself, “What a wicked, wicked indulgence.”  The next thought was, “Wait a minute buckwheat isn’t wheat.  It’s a seed.  I can eat this!”  It was a life altering epiphany.

A few days ago I was finally able to carve out some time to disappear into the kitchen and cook for us.  Within an hour Buckwheat Corn Bread came steaming hot from the oven.  It tasted great with the Chili Con Carne I’d made for dinner.  DH mumbled something I assumed was complimentary as he cut himself another hefty piece and lifted it to his mouth.  The next morning I was in heaven eating it grilled crispy golden brown for brekki.  That afternoon Bella and Steb stopped in…hungry, of course.  A basket of Buckwheat Cornbread was plopped on the table.  They slathered it with butter and gobbled down a couple pieces each.  The cockles of my heart warmed by their obvious surprise when DH said, “It’s gluten-free.”  “No shit!” Bella and Steb replied in unison.

Finally, something wheat-free that wasn’t soggy, pithy, or tasteless.  Sometimes you just have to bite into a piece of bread.   And, Buckwheat Corn Bread will do nicely!

Notes for this recipe:  The buckwheat gives the bread a delicious nutty flavor.  It is a sturdy moist bread with a nice open crumb.  Unlike most gluten-free baked goods, this bread stays fresh for several days.  During that time the flavor continues to develop.   The bread can be left on the counter covered tightly or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  Buckwheat can be purchased at most supermarkets in either the baking or gluten-free sections or at your local health food store.  If you don't have a cast iron skillet, get one!  Otherwise, select an 8x8 pan (glass, metal, stoneware) and lightly coat with olive oil.  Skip preheating the pan, scrape batter directly into it, and cook as directed. 

Buckwheat Corn Bread

1-1/2 c. coarse stone ground corn meal  
½ c. buckwheat
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbsp, olive oil
1 c. buttermilk 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Put a #8 cast iron skillet in the oven to preheat.   

In the meantime, measure dry ingredients into a bowl.  Stir to combine. Set aside. 

Pour the buttermilk into a 2 cup measure.  Add the eggs and olive oil.  Beat with a fork to combine.  Set aside.

Remove the hot skillet from the oven.  Spray (or wipe) with a light coating of olive oil.  Return to oven. 

Pour the buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients.  Stir with the fork just to combine.  Batter will be thick.  Remove the oiled skillet from the oven.  Scrape the batter into the skillet with a rubber spatula.  Smooth surface.  

Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until center tests done with a pick and edges are browned and center is firm to the touch.

 Serve warm or cooled.  In the unlikely event of leftovers, cover tightly and store on the counter top or in an airtight container in the refrigerator.  12 servings.