A delicious Almond nut meal bread!

On my previous post, I had you making your own almond milk. At the very end of the recipe I told you, DO NOT THROW OUT THE ALMOND MEAL! This is why.

Almond meal can easily replace Whole wheat flour in many recipes.

I altered the recipe found in “My grandmothers recipe for whole wheat bread” (in a previous post on my blog), except this time, I removed the whole wheat flour and replaced it with Almond nut meal from making my last gallon of almond milk and used almond milk instead of whole milk.

This recipe will use 1 1/2 cups of almond nut meal.

I mentioned in my almond milk post that this nut meal is gluten free. That means you can use this in recipes not requiring yeast. Some ideas are banana bread and cookies. If you come up with your own recipes that worked let me know and I’ll make up a batch for everyone to know about here.

I want to say something about the latest fad in diets…. Going gluten free.

Years ago I was in the medical field. Many of my patients were those were diagnosed with Celiac sprue and other auto immune diseases. Celiac sprue is a disease that affects the small intestine hindering the absorption of nutrients. Those of you that have been diagnosed with Celiac sprue know that the treatment consist of a lifetime of abstinence of any gluten found in the Triticeae family of grains. This is a very difficult diet to follow. I would wish it on no one.

Let me be clear, Celiac sprue is NOT a wheat allergy but is a genetically inherited auto immune disease. An allergy to wheat products is a whole other ball game DO NOT confuse the two! If you have digestive concerns due to gluten, get tested. Do not self treat!

My reason for bringing this up is this.

Going gluten free will also leave you with a diet that is severely lacking in calcium, vitamin D, folate, niacin and iron. You should be under a Doctors* supervision on this diet even if you do not have Celiac sprue. If you are pregnant, tell your Doctor that you are eating a gluten free and have your Doctor prescribe supplemental diet therapy to prevent your newborn from having nutritionally derived birth defects.

By trying to eat as if you had Celiac sprue, your body could be as nutritionally starved as if you truly did have Celiac sprue! This is not a diet to play around with. If you do not have Celiac sprue, I would highly advise skipping this one.

Note* I have to side with the medical field on this, not health nutritionist. There are serious consequences to a gluten free diet that effect organ and bone function that are way out of a nutritionist scope of training. Please, DO YOUR RESEARCH.

But folks, the big reason you’re hearing so much today about going gluten free is an age old reason…money!

Every few years, those producing products for the ‘health’ industry roll out a few new reasons you need to change your eating habits. We’ve been hit with, vitamin A,B,C,D, X,Y and Z. Then came the attack on sugar which gave us a myriad of substitutes including High Fructose Corn syrup. Sea salt verses table salt, brown rice verses wild verses Uncle Bens. Good Lord, the list goes on and on and on.  As long as you keep chasing after each new miracle diet, the health industry keeps raking in the bucks!

Domino’s Pizza now offers a gluten-free pizza, (for an extra 3 dollars), Frito Lay is offering more than a dozen gluten-free chip products and even Michelob came out with an Ultra Light Cider that’s gluten-free. It’s all about the money!

Folks, my grandparents lived a long, long life. They worked hard and ate well. They were western State farmers. When they passed, it was determined they died of…Old Age!

Many of my heritage recipes come from my grandma. While I’ve been leaning more and more to the vegetarian side of eating, I am still  doing so with my eyes wide open! I am not one to delve into fad diets. They come, they go.

Now, back to the darn recipe!

The recipe below is one that contains nut meal instead of whole wheat. You may ask, why replace the nutritionally superior whole wheat and not the high gluten flour?  Gluten!

In order for bread dough to rise it needs gliadin, a prolamin protein called gluten to react with the yeast. These proteins bind to each other causing the dough to not only rise, but it adds flexibility to the bread. Without it, the bread would crumble into pieces when you slice it.

The ratio of high gluten flour (bread flour) to almond nut meal is close to 2:1. This gives just enough nutty taste to the loaf but not too much.

Try this recipe using the almond nut meal from making your almond milk. It is truly delicious!

2 ½ cups of high gluten flour (standard bread flour found on your grocery shelf works fine

1 ½ cups of almond nut meal

3 Tablespoons of sugar. Divide by setting aside 1 tablespoon of sugar to rise yeast

1 ½ teaspoon of salt

2 Tablespoons of melted butter

1 Tablespoon of dark Karo syrup

2 teaspoons of yeast

1 egg yolk

6 oz  of almond milk heated till very warm

Directions

In your electric mixer’s bowl with dough hook, combine and mix together on low, flour and nut meal, salt, and 2 Tablespoons of sugar.

In a smaller bowl combine 6 oz of very warm milk, Karo syrup, melted butter, egg yolk, 1 Tablespoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of yeast. Mix well with a fork and let stand until bubbles begin to form showing that the yeast is activated.

In your dry ingredient mixing bowl (flour, nut meal salt, sugar), create a low spot in the center and begin to add the wet ingredients while the mixer is on low speed. Add the entire wet mixture until dough begins to form into a soft spongy ball but not outright sticky. (add water or extra flour as needed ) After mixing for a few minutes, dough should not stick to your fingers when touched but should feel damp. Knead dough for 10 minutes using the electric mixer. After well kneaded, the ball of dough should feel very spongy. Remove dough and place on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand 10 to 15 times forming it into a ball. Place dough ball into a large greased bowl to rise. When dough is doubled in size, remove and press down lightly to deflate the dough ball. Shape into a loaf and place it into a greased bread pan, let rise until ½ inch higher than lip of pan.

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees now.

When dough is risen to the desired height, poke holes along the top of the center at 2” intervals no deeper than 1/4″ with a tooth pick to let gas build up escape while rising in the oven. Brush the top of the loaf of bread with almond nut milk and place onto middle oven rack in the center. Set a timer for 35 minutes.

Remove when done ( it should sound hollow when thumped) and brush once again the top with a coat of nut milk.

Wait a few minutes after coating the top, then remove the loaf from the pan and cover with a towel to prevent it from losing its moisture while it cools. When completely cooled, place in a plastic bag or bread container to preserve freshness.

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A heritage idea that is making a big comeback… Homemade almond milk!

In my last trip to the Library in Fort Pierce (No, Google doesn’t know everything!), I ran across a story of a family that settled the area I live in. The story begins well before and continues sometime after the Civil War.Inside the book was not only a history of what settlers went through but contained such things as how to make a mosquito broom out of palm fronds, recipes and other little known tidbits.

I like scouring through old stories because they are a goldmine of Heritage Recipe information. I was fascinated reading how after the railroad arrived, ice blocks became available and how such a simple thing we take for granted today, revolutionized their lives down here (what would they have done if they had air conditioning?) . Before the coming of ice, the heat and humidity down here in Florida would render most fresh food to a state of spoilage overnight. That definitely included fresh milk!

Cattle here were called ‘Cracker Cows’ and they are the oldest of all breeds here in the United States. That and the wild boar were the meat staples for the time. The Spanish brought the cattle here in the 1500’s. Here, as they were in Spain, the breed was a gentle and social breed having a desire to stay close to humans. The only problem was, the cattle loved the taste of our Saw Palmetto and Sago Palm brush.  In order to round up the cattle, this meant rooting the cattle out from this near impenetrable vegetation. Because the cattle were so gentle, the Spanish found that by cracking their whips over the tops of the brush, the cattle would think they were being attacked and head out into the open to defend themselves. Never was the actual cow whipped. While the cattle loved eating this growth, it was also home to panthers, wild boars and bears. The cattle knew better than to try and defend itself against a predator within the confines of the brush, so out into the open they’d come.

After the Spanish left Florida due to British insistence, they left behind vast herds of Cracker Cattle. Our early settlers here soon discovered these cattle freely roaming around and found by using their whips they could control the cattle as the Spanish did . These cowboys were America’s first true cattle cowboys and acquired the name “Cracker Cowboys” from the sound of their whips. Their specially bred and trained horses became known as “Cracker Horses” and are still being bred today.

But this is not a story of Cracker Cattle but one of milk… or actually, the lack of it.

Before ice, cow and goat milk had to be drank or used in baking while it was still fresh. There was no saving it for another day. Spoiled milk not only tasted bad but was a perfect medium for bacterial and germ growth. Milk was needed in emergencies for babies and in everyday baking. So what was a mother to do?

The answer was growing in right front of their noses. Nuts…or rather, nut milk!

The South is famous for its nut trees but long before Christ was walking about, the Mideastern countries were making milk from almonds. Later, returning soldiers from the Crusades brought the concept of nut milk back to England and France with them. From there all of Europe and eventually the United States were turning almonds into a delicious drink that would still be drinkable a day later.

In my library trip, I discovered many folks down here had substituted nut milk for that of cows milk. In fact, two early Cracker recipes I ran across actually listed nut milk in their ingredients. Early Crackers lived a very frugal and sparse lifestyle. If you Google them they are a fascinating people.  Contrary to the popular belief of some writers, the Cracker is still alive and well. They still ride Cracker horses, raise Cracker cattle and have a language that is able to travel long distances through the high brush. It consist of whistles and hoots that few outsiders know about. I personally know this to be true because I lived along side of them as friends and neighbors when I lived in the Everglades just south of Lake Okeechobee.

So why am I putting a recipe for nut (Almond) milk in my Heritage and trail cooking blog? Because it more than many other recipes is a true Heritage recipe! I later learned that many of our early American settlers and pioneers made their own nut milk. With the advent of refrigeration and pasteurized milk, nut milks lost favor for that of convenience.

An added bonus is after making your milk, you are left with what is called Almond Meal. Almond Meal is Gluten free and will take the place of whole wheat flour in most any baking recipe. I’ll add a photo of it below at the end of this post.

I’m giving you a recipe that makes  over (3) three quarts. This amount last me about a week. I will also give the recipe for 1 quart below the 3 quart one.

Note; You must soak the almonds overnight in water to soften and hydrate (swell) them .

Fill to 1 inch over almonds. Change the water a couple of times. Drain completely before putting almonds into blender.

Ingredients; (for making 3 quarts)

2 cups of raw and shelled almonds (they will swell to over 3 cups after soaking)

3 cups of water for each cup soaked and swelled  almonds (makes 9 cups of milk)

2 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon of light corn syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla

½ teaspoon of salt

Ingredients for 1 quart;

1 cup of raw shelled almonds (they will swell to almost 1 1/2 cups after soaking)

3 cups of water

½ Tablespoon of honey

1/2 Tablespoon of light corn syrup

1/4 to ½ teaspoon of vanilla

 ¼ teaspoon of salt

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You will also need.

1 measuring cup

A cheesecloth or large dish towel

A colander

A large 4 quart pot

A spatula

A clean milk jug or 1 gallon pitcher with a lid

A funnel

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I purchase a 3 pound bag from a big box store here for under $9. I get about 3 gallons to a 3 pound bag. That brings the cost down to less than a dollar a quart.

There is not a lot of ingredients needed

Directions;

Note, your almonds have swelled after soaking. For the single cup, use the entire amount, for the 3 quart amount, divide your almonds into three separate amounts.

Set up your Pot, colander and filter cloth as in the picture below.

In a blender, pour in the desired amount of soaked almonds and fill with 3 cups of water then blend on high for 2 ½ minutes.

Pour blended nuts into filter cloth. (your colander will tend to have its center holes get plugged up by the almond meal filled cloth. Place a spoon between the cloth and the colander bottom to allow drainage. )

When fairly drained, pull up the sides of the cloth without spilling any meal into the colander and twist until a ball filled with almond meal is formed. Squeeze the ball tightly until no more milk seeps from it. Save the almond meal!

Repeat this process until all almonds have been blended and turned into milk.

Remove cloth and colander.

Stir the Honey, Corn Syrup, Vanilla and salt into the pot of milk

 I pasteurize my almond milk, it’s easy and makes for a safe bacteria and germ free drink.

(Heat milk over low heat.  145 degrees for 30 minutes. Stirring often. Do not boil or heat above 145 degrees)

To pasteurize; 145 degrees for 30 minutes

Pour hot contents into a BPA free pitcher or jug and refrigerate immediately. When chilled its as good as any that’s store bought !

Remember, this is a natural product with no added  artificial homogenizing agents in it, so over time some settling will occur. Before using, stir or shake container lightly to remix its contents evenly.

Sometimes after pasteurizing almond milk, you will find it has become thick (thicker than whole milk) in its consistency. To thin it down without losing any flavor, simply add cold clean water to it in small amounts until you find your desired taste and consistency.  By pasteurizing your milk, its taste also becomes more creamy than water like. Remember, do NOT  exceed 145 degrees as it will definitely thicken! Many online recipes skip the process of pasteurization so it’s up to you whether or not to pasteurize.  I pasteurize all of mine because I live in South Florida where there is a multitude of air born bacteria, yeast and fungi due to the high heat and humidity. Try it both ways and see which suits your taste best:)

Don’t throw it away! The left over Almond meal is a great Gluten free substitute for whole wheat flour!!! I freeze mine in marked 3 cup bags.