Apricots and oats
Oats are very underrated I think. They fall in that tricky netherworld of gluten-free foods that require careful supervision and so often get ignored in the gf diet. But they’re full of protein, fibre and lots of slow-release carbohydrate, and are versatile to boot. I originally saw Heidi‘s recipe for oat soda bread and was reminded of oatey cereals and flapjacks, filling and with almost a slightly salty taste making them addictive I decided I had to make it rightaway. Immediately of course morphed into soon, and it was only when I saw a delicious oat and apricot bread at a farmers’ market that I resolved to make my own gf version and finally got into the kitchen. Soda breads take less than an hour to bring together and make (really) so there is really no excuse for not making your own. The only thing you need is relatively fresh bicarbonate of soda. If yours has been sat in the cupboard, unused and unloved for more than a year, bin it and start from scratch with a new tub.
Apricot and oat soda bread
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks
I really like the nutty, grainy texture which oats give to baked goods so I didn’t grind all the oats down into a fine flour. Instead I measured them out into a large bowl and using my immersion blender ground about 2/3 of the volume into a fine flour, leaving the rest a little coarser. This is pretty messy (there were oats flying everywhere) so I’d recommend doing this in a food processor on the pulse setting, until almost all of the oats have been pulverised, but not quite. Also remember that soda bread works because of the action of the baking soda with the acidic liquid, so as soon as you add the liquid it is important to work as quickly as possible to get the bread in the oven to maximise the raising power of these two ingredients combined.
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups gf oats
2 cups gf flour blend
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 3/4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dried apricots, cut into small pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 200 C. Dust a large baking sheet very lightly with gf flour.
2. In a medium bowl measure out the milk and add the lemon juice. Stir, and leave to sit and curdle for 10 minutes.
3. In a food processor whizz the oats until most of them are ground to a fine flour. It is ok to leave some whole, or only half ground, it makes for an interesting texture in the bread.
4. In a large bowl stir the ground oats with the gf flour blend, salt, bicarbonate of soda, xanthan gum and apricots.
5. When the milk has curdled make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in about half of the milk. With your hand in a claw shape, bring the dry ingredients into the centre of the bowl and quickly mix. Add more milk as necessary until the dough comes together in one large ball. Add a little more milk (the dough should be quite wet; the xanthan gum and gf flour will absorb more liquid than gluten-containing flours). Once the dough is a cohesive, slightly sticky mass, shape it into a round and put it on the baking sheet. Working very quickly, score the top of the dough 3 times with a knife and sprinkle with a tablespoon of oats, then put the loaf in the oven.
6. Bake for 50 minutes, or until the loaf sounds hollow when knocked, and is browned on top.
7. Remove from oven and cool on a baking sheet. Serve in long thin slices with butter and wensleydale with cranberries. Mmmm.
The bread tastes best fresh from the oven. As with all breads I make I tend to refresh the slices in the microwave for 20 seconds in the days after I’ve made it. Call it force of habit, but that way you get (virtually) oven-fresh bread every day.