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The inspiration for this idea was making soft pretzels — could I make something else that soft, if I just boiled the dough briefly before baking it?  And what sort of small bread would be handy to have around, that soft?  I ended up with “bread-by-the-slice.”

It’s a strange idea at first, granted — aren’t there enough kinds of bread to choose from at this point?  I guess so; but it’s still hard to get a nice, square slice of bread out of any of those loaves.  Gluten-free bread just doesn’t like to get tall enough for that.  Not to mention, it can be hard to get a flat slice at all; if you don’t care what shape your bread is, that’s fine, but hey, sometimes you do.  We use this bread to make grilled-cheese sandwiches, or eat hummus or other dips, or just straight up with some butter or honey on it.

You’ll need parchment paper and wax paper, a plastic slotted stiff spatula (if it’s metal you’ll have a much harder time handling the squares), and, if you’re as picky about evenness as I am, an adjustable rolling pin.  I waxed eloquent about my new adjustable rolling pin last month; while I still adore that rolling pin, and have zero problems whatsoever with it, I found myself wishing I had a 1/16″ setting just often enough that I got a second one.  Yes, a second one, by a different brand.  :-)  It works just as well as my first rolling pin;  the only difference is that my new pin has a 1/16″ setting and no 1/8″ setting, while my older pin has a 1/8″ setting and no 1/16″ setting.  So, I have both.  Not the cheapest solution, perhaps, but it has a certain elegance to it I think.  :-)

Anyway.  You came here for some bread.  :-)

Bread-by-the-Slice

Yield:  10-14 slices, or more if they’re really thin

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dough mix
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1/4 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp brown sugar (or white if you prefer)
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1 T brown sugar (or white if you prefer)
  • 1 T yeast

Directions:

1.  First, make the dough:  In a small bowl, whisk together the hot water, yeast, and 1 T brown sugar, and set aside to proof.  In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients (dough mix, xanthan gum, guar gum, salt, and 2 tsp brown sugar).  Cut the butter into the dry mixture till crumbly, then add the egg and proofed yeast mixture and use a fork to combine.  Turn the rough dough out onto a lightly dough-mixed surface and knead until smooth and combined.

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2.  Prep a good rising environment — I usually heat the oven just a touch (less than warm, even), and put a tray of warm water on the bottom rack to keep the air humid.  Now, roll out the dough on wax paper (without dusting it!).  You can choose from a number of thicknesses, depending how thick you want the final “slices” to be — the dough will almost double as it rises.  I usually roll the dough to either 1/8″ or 1/16″ thick, but you can go as thick as 1/4″ if you really want.  Cut the rolled dough into squares, rerolling the scraps.

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3.  Arrange the dough squares on parchment paper spread over cookie sheets, then set them in the warmed oven (or wherever else) to rise for at least half an hour, or until almost double and no longer rising.  (If you have a hard time moving the dough from the wax paper to the parchment paper, try flipping the wax paper over onto the parchment paper, peeling the wax paper off, then repositioning the squares as needed.)

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4.  When the dough’s done rising, take the cookie sheets out of the oven (if you put them there to rise), and start the oven preheating to 375 degrees Farenheit.  On the stove, start a pot of lightly salted water boiling.  Gently unstick the dough squares from the parchment paper with a stiff, plastic slotted spatula.  Once the dough’s boiling, gently move each slice into the boiling water, making sure it gets fully immersed; you can flip each square if you want, but it isn’t necessary.  After a few seconds, fish the square back out with the spatula, then set it gently back down on the parchment paper.

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5.  Now they’re ready to bake in the preheated oven — 12-15 minutes for thinner slices, 18-20 minutes for thicker ones (keep an eye on them if you’re not sure, and take them out once they start to brown and occasionally poof).

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You can also cook the raw dough in butter or olive oil in a skillet on the stove, almost like you would a pancake — I like to make fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches this way.  :-)  Just cook each side on medium high till it browns, flipping it halfway through.

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Voila.  :-)