Friday, November 26, 2021

Low Glycemic Bread

A change from my usual posts:

For some time I have been on a low glycemic diet. Bread made from white flour has a fairly high glycemic index and glycemic load. I found a number of recipes online that claimed to produce a tasty low glycemic bread and tried them. The best I would be willing to eat if I was  hungry and had nothing better available, but none, despite the claims on their web pages, was close to the quality of ordinary bread. I also bought one variety of low glycemic bread online — better, but still not very good. 

I decided to see if I could invent something better.

My standard bread recipe is a sourdough loosely based on a recipe in the King Arthur Flour cookbook. Sourdough bread has a lower glycemic index than yeast bread. Whole wheat flour has a lower glycemic index than white flour. Almond flour has a glycemic index of about zero. It also has no gluten, which means bread made with it (or coconut flour, or chickpea flour, or ...)  won't rise. 

The obvious solution is to add gluten. Wheat gluten has a glycemic index only a little lower than whole wheat flour but a much lower percentage of carbohydrates, hence a much lower glycemic load, which is what really matters. 

Here is the recipe for one loaf:

3/4 c whole wheat flour
3/4 c almond flour
1/2 c wheat gluten
1/3 c raisins
1 t salt
1/3 lb sourdough starter
1/2 c water

Mix together the flours and gluten.

Stir the sourdough starter into the water and add to the flours, stirring to mix. 

Let it sit for half an hour.

Add salt and raisins, knead smooth (this takes only a minute or two).

Let it sit for an  hour.

Fold it.

Let it sit for an hour.

Form into a boule (look up how to do it which is hard to describe but ends up with the dough in a ball). The one tricky bit is that you want to try to get all the raisins into the interior, since if they are on the surface they may burn. 

Cover and let it rise for two hours.

Put in a 450°F oven, bake until the internal temperature is 205°F.

Let it cool. Eat it.

It isn't the best bread I ever ate, but  better than most store bought bread. By my calculation the glycemic load from the flours and gluten is a little less than a third what it is for the two cups of white flour in a loaf of my standard bread. That does not include the raisins, which are the same for either recipe, but you can leave them out if you want — I like raisin bread.


Anonymous said...

Thanks David, I'm going to try making this next week.

SB said...

I often use either almond flour, coconut flour, or both in pancakes. I'm not sure if I've tried them in bread. The coconut flour (unsweetened!) has more of a distinctive flavor than the almond, so it might be a little weird in bread.

Some other things to try in your experimentation:

Soy flour has lots of protein, basically no carbs, and of course no gluten. If you use too much of it, the bread will taste like sawdust, but up to half a cup per loaf should be OK.

Flaxseed meal has lots of protein, lots of fiber, a little carbs, and of course no gluten. I haven't tested what happens if you use too much of it; I use up to 1/4 cup per loaf.

Ditto wheat germ.

Eggs also have lots of protein, basically no carbs, and of course no gluten, but they'll serve some of the same role as gluten in helping the bread rise and hold shape. I usually use 1-3 eggs per loaf.

David Friedman said...

Are you making sourdough bread or yeast bread? I don't know if egg works in sourdough bread, although there is no obvious reason it wouldn't, aside from longer rising times giving it more time to spoil.

One thing I have wondered about is how much flour is needed to feed the microorganisms that make the bread rise. Obviously I could get the glycemic load down by lowering the ratio of whole wheat to almond, but I'm not sure at what point the recipe would stop working.

Anonymous said...

If you are feeling adventurous... you could try measuring your blood sugar response to the food directly with a constant glucose monitor. Then you can figure out what foods/recipes work best for you (mitigating some of the variability of the glycemic index).

SB said...

Yes, for the past four years or so I've been using only sourdough, not commercial yeast. I too was concerned about spoilage time for the eggs, so I usually mix up flour, water, and starter, and leave them for at least eight hours before adding salt, eggs, and the remaining flour-like ingredients.

One nice thing about working from home, as I've been doing since March 2020, is that I can bake sourdough bread on its own schedule, not mine. If it's rising a little faster or slower than usual this time, I can accommodate. If it's approaching "ready to bake" and it's my bedtime, I put the loaf in a big zip-loc bag in the fridge and bake it in the morning; this final "cold rise" is recommended by many sourdough bakers as a way to develop extra flavor.

David Friedman said...

What ratio of starter to flour do you use? I ask because your eight hours is a good deal longer than my rising time, and I was wondering if it was because you used less starter.

I do three rounds of refreshing the starter then use a pound of starter to six cups of flour for my standard sourdough recipe.