When I say I don’t eat bread or pasta, especially in Spain, more often than not I then get asked the question: are you celiac ? My response is now almost automatic: no, I’m not, I just avoid all grain as much as I can. Then, almost always the follow up question is: oh, err why ? and straight after, without time to answer the previous question they ask (some with an almost alarmist tone): what do you have for breakfast then ?!
Considering that I'm from a country where the first thing that waiters put on the table is bread together with tap water and where there is a popular habit of wiping cleaned all dishes cooked with sauce by a slice of bread, you will better understand why my folks believe I'm crazy of refusing bread when there is no real reason.
Well, I'm not going to lie, I do miss bread. It's the only food I occasionally crave and in fact, I'm already dreading when my parents will visit my home over the Christmas holidays, as there will be bread on the table every day, with every meal... they just love bread !
Last Christmas for example, the next day after they arrived, my mum asked for bread as soon as she woke up.
- I don't have any bread mum ! - What ?! - Yeah, I told you, since I had the bacteria in the stomach I don't eat grain. I feel so swollen after eating it. - Oh, so, what are we going to have for breakfast then !?
Sometimes I feel she simply doesn't listen to me as I saw her strong needed to get bread, I told her;
- Ok mum, don't panic, we'll go to buy some bread. - Good, but you know that we like bread with the crisp crust and crumbly inside right ?!
Not only she does not listen, she is demanding as well !
So, I took her to Marks & Spencer, where she had never seen so many different types of bread all together at once. My mum was like a big kid in a candy shop. She went all crazy and bought four different types of bread.
Honestly, seeing my parents eating a toast bread slice for breakfast, drizzled with olive oil, ham and cheese on top each day, was the biggest torture I've ever had to live through. Although I did realised that I only want to eat bread when I see someone eating it. So, sometimes my craving for bread appears out of nowhere, for no reason... like two weeks ago. Whilst reading through the September issue of Delicious magazine, I saw a recipe called Cauliflower cake by the chef Ottolenghi. Then, mysteriously, I couldn't stop thinking about bread. I say mysteriously because that is not bread, it's a cake!! But who cares ? I had already decided to turn it into bread, so that was what I did.
So here it is: My Paleo cauliflower bread loaf!
The Ottolengui recipe calls for all-purpose flour which was substituted for coconut flour. However the biggest challenge was to get the bread loaf not too dry so, as you know, coconut flour tends to be extremely absorbent , like a sponge. If you want to know how to cook with coconut flour, have a quick look at this post, where I give some tips.
This cauliflower bread loaf had a lovely moist texture and flavours made up from coconut and cheese. But the most important thing was that it wasn't too dry, which had been my biggest concern. It’s perfect to eat with some spreadable light cheese and ham, as I did! Also, it served its purpose and it put off my needed for bread, well until Christmas I expect.
The Monday after I made the cauliflower bread loaf, my mum phoned me. As usual, she wanted to know what I had been cooking the weekend before.
- I cooked a kind of bread made from coconut flour, cauliflower ... - Oh, (she interrupted me) - before I forget it, when we arrive to your home this Christmas, make sure you have bought some bread from that shop, Mark's whatever, ok ?? Definitely, she ignores me.
Paleo cauliflower bread loaf
1 small cauliflower (450g), outer leaves removed, broken into 3cm florets
2 tsp salt
1 medium red onion
75ml olive oil
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
6-7 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
15 g chopped basil, chopped
3/4 cup coconut flour,
1½ tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
150g grated parmesan, or other mature cheese, coarsely grated
Melted butter, for greasing
1 tbsp white sesame seeds
Heat the oven to 200C/400F.
Put the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add half of the salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes or until the florets are quite soft. Strain, and set aside in the colander to dry.
Cut 4 x 5mm thick slices off one end of the onion, break into rings and set aside. Chop finely the rest of the onion and put in a pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, over a medium heat for 10 minutes until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Put the cooled onion and rosemary mixture into a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, and whisk well.
Add the coconut flour, baking powder and turmeric into a large bowl, and add the Parmesan cheese, the remaining salt and season with plenty of black pepper.
Whisk until combined, add an extra egg if you find the mixture too dry. Add the cauliflower and stir gently, trying to keep some florets whole.
Line the base and sides of a 24 cm spring-form cake tin with baking paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, toss the sesame seeds around the inside of the tin so they stick to the greased baking paper.
Tip in the cauliflower mix and arrange the onion rings on top.
Bake the cake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set.
Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It can be served warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
By Laura - Lau Sunday cooks - Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe