I’m a Yankee in the South. A New Yorker to be exact. If anyone knows a good bagel, it’s me. And gawd is it hard to find a good bagel down here.
Not only have I yet to find a decent bagel here in the South that’s comparable to what I grew up eating, but now I don’t eat gluten anymore, and my youngest child isn’t supposed to have any grains or animal product whatsoever. How’s THAT for a dietary challenge?!
Yeah, I know. (smack my head)
We live in a day and age where gluten-free vegan options abound, but GRAIN-free? That’s just … ugh. Virtually impossible to find in a store, so we buy some really out-there ingredients and do a looooot of experimental baking in our house these days.
Why is my youngest child grain-free, you might wonder? Our amazing pediatrician Dr. Franz is a Western MD, a homeopath, and a believer in TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine. Her treatments are based on Chinese Five Element Theory, which posits that there are five different elements or body types that require five different ways of eating. Should you decide you are intrigued enough to have your body type analysis done, you can go here and consult with a Chinese doctor via Skype, which is what I did.
In my household, there are not one, not two, but three different types with vastly different food needs among us. Fun times.
My youngest child is a Water type, the one who is supposed to eat no grain or animal. The eldest is a Fire type, who is supposed to eat 30% of her diet as meat, more specifically beef from the yin half of the animal, which is the rear. Also minimal grain, just 5% of her diet. I am a Metal type, apparently supposed to eat meat but NOT beef, and supposed to eat grain. Also soups, stews, and broth. So. Much. Broth. Broth for breakfast. Broth for lunch. Broth for dinner. The more broth the better. You get the idea.
So basically, my Water type is the one who is hardest to feed. And she also happens to be the pickiest eater. If she could eat chicken nuggets and mac and cheese every day, she’d be happy as a clam. But no animal and no grain means no chicken, no breading on the nuggets, no regular pasta, and no cheese. Not that I’d want her eating that stuff anyway.
So I have been testing out all kinds of grain-free flour options: almond, tapioca, corn (it’s considered a seed, not a grain … hallelujah!), potato, coconut, and so on. Several recent experiments with a combination of almond flour and tapioca starch as the base flour mix have actually been rather successful, including this one, inspired by a recipe in the cookbook Without Grain. I made a few changes to make it suitable for Water type (I subbed maple syrup for honey because honey is from an animal, and I subbed agave syrup and water for the egg yolk glaze because again, no animal).
So here you have it. A fairly decent grain-free vegan bagel that even the pickiest eater totally devoured, after it was toasted and spread with vegan cream cheese.
Then she asked for a second one. Thank goodness. Success!
Grain-Free Vegan Everything Bagels
3 cups blanched almond flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
2/3 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
Small squirt agave syrup mixed with 2 tsp water
Optional toppings: dried minced onion flakes, granulated garlic, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coarse salt, etc. (I used Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” Sesame Seasoning Blend, plus additional garlic, dried minced onion, and sea salt sprinkled on top)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large pot over high heat, bring about 4 inches of water to a boil. Add a pinch of sea salt.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca starch, salt, and baking powder. In a separate container, mix the water, vinegar, and maple syrup and add to the dry mixture, mixing well.
- Divide the dough into 6 to 8 portions (I made six). Dust your hands with additional tapicoa starch and roll each section of dough into a ball (mine was quite sticky). Flatten the ball and use your fingers to push through the center to make a bagel shape. Place each bagel on the baking sheet.
- Working in batches of 3 or 4 bagels, carefully place each bagel into the boiling water for one minute, or until they float. Using a slotted spoon, remove them from the water and place them back onto the baking sheet.
- Bake the boiled bagels for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with the agave/water mix, and top as desired (the glaze dried so quickly, I brushed and seasoned each bagel one at a time). Return to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- After baking for a total of 20 minutes, increase the temperature of the oven to 425 degrees F and bake for 5 additional minutes, or until lightly browned and crispy.
- Transfer to a baking rack to cool before cutting and serving.
Boiling the bagels absolutely gave them that authentic chewy bagel texture, though once they were cooled enough to cut them in half to toast, I did think they were still a little too sticky inside. I gave them a nice long cycle in the toaster, and it helped.
Fire child had hers with regular organic dairy cream cheese while Water child had vegan cream cheese. I had mine with Miyoko’s vegan butter. The kids both thought these bagels were totally fantastic, but next time I make these, I will increase the baking time at 350 from 20 minutes to 25 or 30, before increasing the heat to 425, to address the sticky factor. Stay tuned for the update here once I try this.
It may be a little while though, because during this holiday season, I’ve got a grain-free sugar cookie recipe I need to test out next with vegan egg replacer instead of the one egg that’s called for. No rest for the weary when it comes to grain-free vegan requirements! Will share that recipe here too, when it’s ready.
Meanwhile, happy holidays (and happy special-needs baking) to all and to all a good night!