Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Not My First Attempt At Paleo Bread

I am really iffy about the concept of paleo bread.  Focusing your diet on eating things that are made to look like other things (whether it's margarine, veggie chicken, or paleo bread) can run you into trouble.  I decided to try making paleo bread again for two reasons:

1. Wheat (not gluten, wheat in general) makes me feel like shit.  And itch.  And cry.  On the inside.
2. I got the cookbook "Paleo Bread" for my birthday.

I have a love-hate relationship with paleo cookbooks because they're woefully inconsistent and sometimes it's like the author doesn't really know what they're talking about.  "500 Paleo Recipes," for instance, has a lot of fantastic recipes!  It also has a section on mixed drinks and says cashews "clearly" aren't paleo.  A cookbook calling itself "paleo" might or might not include cashews, green beans, fresh peas, quinoa, honey, maple syrup, sweet potatoes, coconut sugar, maple sugar, stevia, coffee, butter or ghee, other dairy, and any other number of ingredients and go to great lengths to explain why it is or is not paleo, whether that makes sense or not.  You can find paleo cookbooks that stress out about calories and saturated fat, and others that maintain you shouldn't give a shit.

That's not to say any way of doing this is bad.  People have different reasons for trying a paleo or ancestral-type diet.  If you're trying to lose weight, living off of recipes from "Paleo Bread" or a dessert cookbook might not help you attain that goal.  If you're allergic to dairy, you wouldn't want to use Greek yoghurt.  And so forth.

Anyway, aside from this, there are some problems with paleo bread from just a culinary standpoint.  It's typically very eggy, because almond and coconut flour just don't hold together very easily. There isn't, as far as I know, a way to make paleo bread that actually tastes like a wheat bread.  That said, you really need to judge these recipes for what they are not not what you wish they were.

For instance, this is the result of a recipe called "Country-Style White Bread," with no creative liberties taken on my part:

It looks kind of like cornbread and actually has a similar texture (less gritty).  It rose more than I expected it to, to be honest.  Does it taste like "white bread?"  Not really.  It's pretty good, though.  Not exactly sandwich-sized when cut that way (each slice is maybe a sixth of the size of a slice of Wonderbread, just in case the perspective is confusing you).  You could feasibly make it sandwich-size by cutting it more creatively... either at a diagonal or by slicing it lengthwise instead of widthwise.  I did manage a tiny sandwich out of it:

That's a single slice of summer sausage cut in half (more size perspective for you) and some mayonnaise.  Here's where it gets interesting:  If you just eat the slice of bread on its own, it's not terribly appealing.  It's not like wheat bread where I could just eat it plain.  But add some fillings to it and it's not that different from wheat bread... the texture is more similar than you'd expect, albeit a bit denser, and that's really the important part.  The flavor of the fillings obscures the taste of the bread, anyway.

So on a similar note, "Paleo Bread" has a picture on its cover that I'm 99% sure is just wheat bread (not shocking: vegetarian recipe sites have been busted in the past for posting pictures of real meat instead of veggie substitutes just because real meat is more appealing).  As I go through the recipes in this book it'll be interesting to see if any of them come even close to the loaf on the cover.  My guess is that "no, it won't."