Sunday, January 8, 2023

Low carb bread at high altitude.

So I've been low carbing* for two years now, and it has paid off. As I explained in my year one recap, I didn't start doing it to lose weight; I started doing it to bring my blood glucose down. It has worked so well that this fall, my endocrinologist told me to stop taking my diabetes medications. Go me!

But y'know, sometimes a woman wants a sandwich. And I am here to tell you that the low-carb bread options out there are not only expensive, but also not that great. ThinSlim makes decent bagels and hamburger buns, but I wasn't nuts about their bread. Carbonaut tastes like sawdust to me. Oroweat (Arnold's east of the Mississippi) is decent, but the slices are so small. And they're all crazy expensive. There are other things to wrap around sandwich fillings, but they're not bread, y'know? So basically I've been going without.

And then Dash sent me an email that said they were selling their bread machines super cheap at their website. (Looks like they still are!) So I bought one. And then I set about trying to make low-carb bread at home.

It turns out that making bread at 7,000 feet is as much art as science. Because the air pressure is lower up here, your dough rises faster -- but it's also prone to collapse. Also, Santa Fe is dry, and the lack of moisture messes with the process, too. There are a bunch of ways to tweak your recipe to compensate (King Arthur has a whole list here), but you can't do some of them in a bread machine (i.e., lowering the baking temperature) because the machine only has pre-programmed options. Sure, I could mix the dough in the bread maker and bake it the regular way, but where's the fun in that?

Then there's the issue of flour. Almond flour is my go-to for almost everything low-carb, but it doesn't work for yeast bread. So off I went, looking for other options. The first recipe I tried was this low-carb bread recipe adapted for a bread machine, which I adapted further for high altitude (lowered the amount of yeast, dropped the allulose, and increased the salt). It calls for a bunch of crazy flours, which sent me on a grocery store scavenger hunt; the only one I had to order was the oat fiber. 

The loaf looked fabulous in the pan:

Lynne Cantwell 2023

But then I took it out and it fell. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023

It tastes good, though. But it's also pretty moist. I need to play with the recipe a little more.

The other recipe I've used is one that came with my bread machine. I substituted a measure-for-measure keto flour for the regular flour. 

Lynne Cantwell 2023

The kind I see in the stores here is by King Arthur, so I tried it -- and it works great! I added some vital wheat gluten, which is one of those tips and tricks I saw somewhere for high-altitude baking. I didn't get a picture of this loaf after I took it out of the pan, but trust me when I say that it didn't collapse. I was very excited.
Lynne Cantwell 2023
I wish the flour was less expensive, though. I go through about two-thirds of the tiny bag of flour with one loaf. That puts it in the same price range as the store bought kind -- but this tastes better.

So sandwiches are back on the menu here -- which makes Tigs very happy. He's developed a taste for lunchmeat, specifically Black Forest ham. Who am I to deny the little guy his ham, right?


*Low carb is not the same as keto. Keto is a low carb, high fat diet that requires you to keep your body in ketosis, in which it breaks down fat for fuel. A lot of folks do keto to lose weight. But that involves counting carbs, and after several decades of diets on which I counted this and that in order to lose weight, which either didn't work or only worked for a little while, I developed an eating disorder. So no counting stuff for me -- I'm just sticking to low-carb foods. And I don't care what the scale says.


These moments of bready blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Stay safe!


Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne. I live in Albuquerque but raised in SF. It was a fun read. Ilk try the recipe.
Thank you, RJC

Lynne Cantwell said...

Hi, RJC! Best of luck with the recipe! I'm sure you'll have to tweak it differently than I did, since Albuquerque is only about 5,000 feet up -- we're 2,000 feet higher than you guys.

I have a cookbook called "Pie in the Sky" by Susan Purdy that gives baking recipe conversion tips for several different altitudes. I also found the King Arthur website helpful. Have fun!