Lentil flour and the simplest bread I’ve ever made

I was looking round the Internet last week, as you do, and came across lentil flour. What’s that, thought I, sounds intriguing. I started off with lentil flour and ended up with a loaf made with fizzy water! What I hear you say? That’s what I thought too.

Turns out you can buy lentil flour from Amazon, at relatively great expense – about £6.50 a kilo.  But the thing that had caught my eye was a post by Kacey at cookiewriter.com on home made lentil flour.

Kacey used her flour to make a beer and Parmesan bread, amongst other things. I wanted to try this! And to see if I could frugalise it.

So first up was to make some lentil flour. I tipped some red lentils in the food processor and ran it for a while. It made quite a racket and took ages. I ended up timing it for 10 minutes, and then did the same in the liquidiser, to see if there was any difference.

After sieving the debris left to remove the flour, I was left with red lentil nubs. I think you can see from the picture that the liquidiser version, on the right, created a much finer version than the food processor version, on the left. I don’t seem to have taken any pictures of the lentil flour itself! Doh!

After leaving the liquidiser running for ten minutes, moisture was generated from somewhere and the resulting flour was welding itself to the inside of the glass. So ten minutes at a time is the max. I haven’t yet tried leaving the machine to cool down, sieving the flour out, putting it back in the machine and having another go.

Red lentils

Next step was making some beer bread.

I used

130g red lentil flour
155g value self raising flour
100g fine grated Parmesan
300ml beer
Half tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder

Sieve the flours, baking powder and salt together. Make sure they are well mixed together. Mix in the cheese.

Grease a 2lb loaf tin thoroughly. I poured in a tbslp of veg oil and used a silicone pastry brush to push it into every corner.

Add the beer to the flour mix and mix just enough to incorporate, like a muffin. The beef will fizz enthusiastically. Tip the mix into the prepared tin and leave on one side for half an hour. Don’t nudge or knock the tin in this time, it will rise a bit.

Fizzy water bread

After 20 minutes, heat the oven to 180C fan, 200C conventional, 400F, gas mark 6.

You can see I think that it rises a little. This is the version I talk about later on, with courgette in it, that’s the green flecks.

Fizzy water bread

When the half hour is up, put the bread in the oven and bake for half an hour. Leave in the tin for a few minutes to firm up, then cool on a wire rack.

Leave until completely cold, then slice. Freeze any not eaten on the same day to keep it fresh.

The loaf had a beautiful crumb, sliced well and tasted wonderful. So a good result from step one.

next steps

Next step in the frugalisation process was to try one without the cheese. Result? A delicious loaf. Slightly bitter from the beer, but tasting great with butter and jam.

I was hoping that the complete loaf would be a high protein bread, which would be great for my diet. Unfortunately for me, it works out the same as ordinary flour 😒 . I felt surprised and somewhat deflated by that. It does seem to have very good satiety however. One small slice lasting me for ages before I get hungry again. Must be the extreme lowness of the GI value of the lentils. So for that reason, it’s something I would do again. A slice of this toasted and a couple of scrambled eggs for breakfast. Delicious.

So for our purposes here, that would be the purpose of a lentil flour loaf. Satiety at a rock bottom cost.

third step in frugalisation

This time, I stripped the recipe right back. I had been trying to find out if something in the beer was necessary for the great crumb and couldn’t really find anything. So I went for it and made a loaf using just value self raising flour, baking powder, salt and the cheapest sparkling water I could find.

Verdict? The best so far! Super simple method, cheapest of cheap ingredients giving an utterly delicious loaf. Crusty when it came out of the oven, although that didn’t last more than a few hours.

Loaf

Bread

Just look at that crumb!

This time I used

450g value self raising flour, 13p
450ml sparkling water, 4p
2 tsps baking powder, 5p
half tsp salt

total cost 22p, makes one 800g loaf

Method as above, but the loaf needed twice as long to bake. So bake for an hour. I was inspecting it after 40 minutes, and ended up taking it out of the tin and baking it for the rest of the time untinned. That’s what gave the great crust I think.

variations

I have also tried making one with a grated courgette, a big handful of raisins and a couple of good spoons of mixed spice. This loaf took twice as long again to cook! So two hours! Probably all that moisture from the courgette, even tho I cut the water down from 450ml to 400ml. The resultant loaf was moist and luscious.

I’ve had various versions on the worktop, just covered in a tea towel, and they have lasted well, not staling faster than any other bread. Because they are moist bread, they take a while to toast, getting there after 3 minutes in the toaster

other thoughts

There is much to explore yet with this discovery. The obvious possibility is trying a gluten free version. The original recipe uses lentil flour and coconut flour, so would be gluten free, if you used gluten free beer.

Kacey made her coconut flour using dessicated coconut and in an aside, says not to process it too much as you would end up with coconut butter. I think that sounds totally gorgeous and would be lush on toast with maybe a spoon of sharp raspberry jam on the side. Another thing to try 😋

There are all the different flours to try. I haven’t even approached it using proper strong gluten bread flour yet, or any of the granary or chapatti flour I have so much of. Edit: here is a chapatti flour version

I am longing to try a tinned tomato and sautéd onion flavour; miso and Spring onion; sun dried tomato and dried fried onion; chorizo; sautéd mushroom and cheese. Then there are the sweet ones; sharp dried cranberries with sweet raisins; dark chocolate and, oh, lots of different things, those lovely dark dark cherries you can get in the freezer section, spread a slice of that with clotted cream (cheap Christmas leftovers in the freezer) and maybe a bit of jam, and you have a Black Forest variety in the palm of your hand ; or grated lemon or orange zest; or a complete chocolate one using cocoa powder etc. etc. etc.

I want to try baking them in muffin tins to see if they make lunch time rolls to have with our soup

Lots and lots of ideas to try

and oh, yes!

I tried the first mix of half lentil flour and half ordinary self raising flour as breakfast pancakes. And they were really really good, and lasted right through to lunch. I had a little sweet chilli sauce on them. Yum! 

Lentil pancakes

 

 

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Bill

    10mins is a long time. My coffee grinder can be used, but I only use it in bursts of about 10seconds a go. For lentils it will probably take two or three bursts. I add a little ground this and that to normal bread flour.

    Gram flour is chickpea flour. It’s more of an egg replacer, and indeed can be heavy.

  2. sarah dunsbee

    Oh this is exciting..I am yeast intolerant and also not good at complex recipes ,this looks wonderful, thanks for all your work on recipes and the brilliant website and Facebook group

  3. Hoonaloon

    Update on further variations for the sparkling water bread.
    Cinnamon and dried fruit gives a teacake/fruit bread style loaf.
    And sun-dried tomatoes added in make a deiicious savoury loaf.
    Definitely well worth a try!

  4. Ann-Marie

    The sparkling water bread is delicious! Who knew it would be possible!?
    Did my third loaf today served with homemade veg stew….mmmm!
    Freezes well also. A definite staple item.
    Many thanks Lesley.

  5. Amelia

    Thanks for experimenting for us all. Loved reading your relay. Being gluten intolerant I cannot use wheat flour, which is, in fact, bad for you and everyone else too. Maybe health-wise the simplest bread is not the cheapest?
    I am going to experiment from your basic recipe and report back if i succeed.

  6. Lesley

    That was my thought Pat, but it didn’t actually work out that way. Although the very low gi of lentils means that one little slice keeps me going for hours

  7. Pat Parker

    That looks and sounds amazing!A great way of adding protein to bread also.

  8. Lesley

    I’ve nearly finished my giant bag of gram flour, I need to get some more

  9. Katherine

    I still find gram flour quite novel and exciting – so cheap, so high in fibre, so high in protein and yet so finely milled – compared to oatmeal for example. I’ve tried adding it to granary flour at about a sixth of the total by weight for bread and it’s so filling it’s almost unpleasant so I can believe you only need a small slice of your lentil bread. I’ve also tried adding some to the batter for Staffordshire oatcakes for extra satiety.
    I think we do have a manual coffee grinder if I ever move on to lentil flour.

  10. Lesley

    Jessica, hmm, sounds like a good gadget to have. I’ll have to have a think about it as I am trying to reduce my gadgets

  11. Jessica

    Hi Lesley,
    My grinder is an electric one and I reasoned that if it would work on coffee beans it would handle most things.
    I tried it out on lentils today and it did a good job in seconds although you are making small amounts at a time.
    I use it to make ground pumpkin,linseed and sunflower seed mixes that I use as a thickner in soups and vegan burgers.
    Jessica

  12. Lesley

    Sue, I know you always have sparkling water in! I’m going to have a go with the savoury loaves in a few days, and the gluten free one

  13. Lesley

    Is that an electric grinder or a hand mill type one? I have a small liquidiser type thing, but I don’t think it would stand up to grinding flour

  14. Lesley

    Katherine, I was intrigued by the whole idea of lentil flour. And I was hoping to get a high protein bread from it. Didn’t work out that way but I enjoyed finding out

  15. Katherine

    Wouldn’t gram flour be simpler and very similar? Just asking.

  16. Jessica

    Hi Lesley
    I use a coffee grinder kept for the purpose to make all kinds of flours and although you make in small batches because it is so quick it will not overheat or clog into lumps………..Jessica

  17. Sue

    Brilliant, I am definitely going to give the basic self raising flour and sparkling water bread a go, who would have thought to use sparkling water …. well you obviously 🙂

    Your list of variations sound delicious too, I feel a bit of experimentation coming on, thank you for the inspiration.

  18. Lesley

    It was really good Kacey, thanks for the inspiration! I have some gluten flour, which I use for my own stuff sometimes. I may use it when using the granary and chappati flour.
    But most of the time when I’m recipe developing, I’m doing it to get it cheap enough to use here

  19. Lesley

    I’ll give it a go Tass and see what happens. My brother is coeliac and I know bread is very difficult for him.

  20. Kacey @ The Cookie Writer

    You are the best!! Seriously, that bread looks so soft! I am all about the variations, too 🙂 My poor food processor does not handle making lentil flour that well. I may cave and buy some store-bought lentil flour but I am afraid the texture may be different. Now onto some more healthy bread recipes (I learned that gluten flour is a must if I want some soft dark breads. It may be called something else outside of Canada but it should help!)

  21. Tass Smith

    Hi Lesley,

    As a Coeliac I’d be very interested to find out how you get on with any gluten free version. With 3 Coeliac’s in the household I’d love to have an easy tasty and reliable recipe.

    Thanks for your blog.

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