The Bread That Would Not Die (Secret Ingredient: Chia Seed)

I tried one of my newest gluten free recipes and came up with a very tasty bread. It had a nice crumb, a nice rise and a nice crust. When I travel I always bring my own bread. I was getting ready to travel to a family event. I sliced up one loaf and packed it in my suitcase. To be sure I would have enough bread I also took the loaf I had previously sliced and frozen the week before. When I got to my hotel room I unpacked the still slightly frozen bread, leaving it to thaw in the open air. Meanwhile, I happily ate the fresh slices as I moved through the weekend’s events. I had forgotten about the thawing slices in the open air until I began packing and saw them. Being unsure they were still good but unwilling to dump them, I repacked them and brought them home. When I got home I toasted up a piece and Wow! it was still fantastic! There were a few pieces left so I wrapped them in a cloth and set them on the counter to see how many more days they would still taste good. They were still excellent even 2-3 days later. So this was a previously frozen bread that had thawed in the stuffy air of a hotel room, inadvertently left in that same stuffy air for 3 days, repacked and traveled a total of 700 miles. The bread just would not get stale, old, or gross!

 

For a gluten free bread to be treated this way and still taste so good is very, very unusual. Most people who must eat gluten free bread, whether they bake their own or buy it fresh, eat it fresh for one day and put the rest in the freezer because it dries out so quickly. My gluten free sourdough bread stays fresh on the counter for 5 days wrapped in a cloth, sitting in an open plastic container. It keeps 10 days in the fridge if it hasn’t been eaten up by then. It also freezes, thaws and toasts up beautifully. I have always been proud of the long shelf life of this palatable bread.

 

The packed, frozen, thawed, repacked, retoasted loaf that was inadvertently ignored in the hotel room was an experimental loaf. I used one of my standard recipes and added 2 tablespoons of chia seed gel to it. Recently I baked another loaf using this same recipe, with chia added, and tested the limits of its shelf life. It lasted 10 days! stored on the counter, in a cloth, in an open plastic container. By day 8 it lost a little of its bounce but gained a great crispiness in the toaster.

 

Chia seed is a wonderful addition to baked products. Adding 2 tablespoons of chia seed gel to baking products will extend the freshness and shelf life. The chia seeds attract moisture which is retained in the baking product.

 

To make chia seed gel, take 2 tablespoons of chia seed and mix it into 8 ounces of water.

 

Stir with a whisk or fork every 5-10 minutes for a half hour.

 

It is suggested to let the chia seed gel sit for 12 hours before using.

 

It keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge.

 

 

 

 

 

8 comments

I was intrigued when I read your post because I had never heard of Chia seeds. After doing a little research I must say they are an amazing little seed! Then of course as these things go the very next day I saw them at my local green grocer, with all the other organic healthy grains, seeds and flour. So I bought a packet which was very expensive  ($12AU for 500g :() but I figured a little bit goes a long way.
So now I've got my Chia gel ready and I will try it in some bread I plan to make on the weekend. I'm sprouting some wheat and hopefully by Sunday I can be ready to bake some sprouted wheat loaves with chia seeds... johnny's super power bread!!


BTW...after following your instructions the way these little suckers draw in the water and form a thick gel, right before your eyes from those tiny little black, white & brown seeds, is truly magic to watch.

johnny
Just mixed up my sprouted wheat dough and I added 2 tablespoons of chia seed gel to the mix. I'm interested to see if it extends the life of the bread. Currently the dough is in the fridge and I will be baking Monday morning.

I was also interested to try using the gel to top my favourite standard SD bread which I baked this morning. It works well as a topping and adds a nice crunch too.


I'm starting to really like these magical little seeds...they're like tiny mottled pebbles full of goodness!
  

Johnny
Hi Johnny,
I love how you just ran with the chia seed idea! I also love your photos, fabulous! The health claims of chia are very impressive. I read that Native Americans would take a pocket full of them on a hunt, eating little bits through the day. They said it nourishes them while deflecting hunger for hours at a time.
I will try the gel as a topping next baking day.
Let us know if the chia extends the shelf life of your bread. I find that it adds about 5 days to on the counter shelf life of gluten free sourdough bread, very, very impressive!

Can you say something about refrigerating your bread dough for a couple of days? this is new to me and am not sure it would work with gluten free.
thanks,
sharon (glutenfreesourdoughbaker)
Thanks Sharon for posting about these seeds. 
I don't know what to say about refrigerating bread dough. I am no expert and just follow the same timetable pretty much with all my bread. I am really a beginner when it comes to baking bread and only started in February this year. So when I started I read all SourDom's beginners guides on and particularly about baking timetables and the proving tutoria which talks about using the fridge for long cold ferments and retarding proving. It worked for me so I just stick to the same timetable. l don't know the actual chemistry but I have read that long cold ferments enhance the SD flavour and that once the bread has proofed you can use the fridge to retard things until you are ready to bake. 
With my sprouted wheat & chia seed experiment I wanted to take a fresh loaf to work on Monday morning. Just like LeadDog my work colleagues get to be my bread testers! 

I have also found for me straight out of the fridge and into a pre-heated oven gives me better oven spring.
I have no idea what happens with gluten-free doughs. I have only ever tried making gluten free pizza dough for a friend when we had a pizza night and I must say it was a bit of a disaster :(

I guess it is just back to experimenting...
Johnny
Hi Johnny,
I will think about this fridge, retarding, preheated oven piece. I also make a allergen free pizza dough that I tried storing in the fridge for a few days. It did rise properly after it came out although that particular recipe was an experimental recipe and became inedible.

 I have put together a gluten free recipe package using my sourdough techniques and subsequent recipes, including a successful pizza recipe.  I sell it on my website. I have a picture of it on my blog: glutenfreesourdough.blogspot.com. It's unusual in that there's no cheese or tomato (I'm sensitive to those foods) but it's a white bean pizza: fabulous!  

Let me know if you or a friend might be interested. I'm not sure your first attempt at gf pizza dough was a disaster. I had 2 full years of disasters, the first one when I tried to make a gf allergen free wedding cake for my own wedding. No way!I've made progress, though, and have more experiments to try. I'm thinking of making a lemon cake putting a few tablespoons of lemon juice into the starter, substituting for water. Any comments about that?

thanks,
sharon
I added 2 tablespoons of the chia seed gel to the dough of this fantastic sprouted wheat recipe. I found this recipe on MC's Blog and thought I'd have a go. I did use the 1/2 teaspoon of dried yeast in the recipe  but I don't think it is really needed and next time I will try without the yeast. As I promised I added the chia seeds to see if it makes the bread last longer and I also added the gel as topping. 

I ended up making two small loaves and my wife and I both took a loaf each to our respective work places to try out on our work colleagues. As soon as these little beauties came out of the oven I knew I was onto a winner. They looked and smelt incredible and I began to worry there would be none left by the end of the day to get a crumb shot so I could share images of this great bread. 

I was right to worry because this bread is the best tasting bread I have ever made. The sprouted wheat gives it a wonderful full whole wheat taste with a really nice sweet flavour and the chia seeds added a nice crunch and nutty finish. I'm sorry Sharon this experiment failed! I can't test if the chia seeds increase the life of this bread. The bread will never last long enough to get stale because it simply taste too good...

The crumb was open and light with lots of irregular holes and nice soft texture. I was lucky to get this crumb shot as all the loaf I took to work was eaten very quickly and I hurriedly rang my wife at morning tea and made her promise to save at least one piece of the loaf she took to her office. I loved everything about this bread and so did everyone who tried it. Next time I will just have to make more loaves!

The only downside is the planning needed to get organic whole grains of wheat, soak them for 36-48hrs and grinding up the sprouted wheat. But I must say the flavour the sprouted wheat adds to the taste is well worth the effort.

Anyway Sharon I will definitely be testing the chia seeds in other breads and thanks for introducing me to such a wonderful and healthy ingredient.
cheers 
Johnny
Hi Johnny,
These breads are magnificent looking!!! I wish I could eat them!!! You had me laughing about having to bake again to determine the shelf life of this bread. That's one of a baker's biggest challenges. Having the bread last long enough to get data...oh, well, if that's the worst of our problems we're doing well! Happy Baking!

sharon

Really interesting post! Here in India, we don't get chia, unless we buy the imported variety. However, flax seed/ linseed is easily available. In general I tend to replace chia with flax, as both have the smae gle like quality when soaked. I'm curious to hear if adding flax gel instead of chia gel would likewise extend the life of the bread.

Thanks!