I'm allergic to wheat, and I suffer from type II diabetes. I cook and bake for myself and try to adapt "regular" recipes to suit my needs.
Sugar-Free and Wheat-Free Bread
I'm allergic to wheat and wheat gluten, and I have diabetes. This is, apparently, not an unusual combination, but it makes finding bread in supermarkets extremely difficult. It seem to me that everything I look at—even "100% rye" or "100% spelt" loaves with the "diabetic-friendly" stamp—contain wheat gluten. So, like many, I've started baking for myself. It's healthier (or at least less bad for you) than off-the-shelf bread, and it costs less than "non-wheat" breads, which can be outrageously overpriced.
What Is a Wheat Allergy?
Wheat allergy shouldn't be confused with celiac disease. According to the Mayo Clinic website: "Wheat allergy occurs when your body produces antibodies to proteins found in wheat. In celiac disease, a specific protein in wheat—gluten—causes a different kind of abnormal immune system reaction".
Allergy vs. Celiac
If you suffer from celiac, like my daughter, you need a totally gluten-free diet. With a wheat allergy or intolerance, all you need to do is avoid wheat (although fructans, which are apparently the main culprit of wheat allergy, are found in other common foods, such as onions and garlic). If you have a wheat allergy, you'll also need to be careful with grains which are crossbred with wheat—"regular" oats (the kind with gluten) are but one example. Wheat protein is also found in a myriad of processed foods, like soy sauce, hot dogs or cold cuts.
What Is Spelt?
This is where spelt comes in. People have been eating spelt forever (or for over 7000 years, which is long enough), and although it is a type of wheat, it contains small amounts of the allergens present in common "bread wheat," and it is easier to digest. Spelt may not be a viable substitute if you have a serious allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to wheat (I have a friend who walks around with an epinephrine injection just in case), but if like me your reaction is less severe, spelt may work for you.
If eating wheat or products containing wheat gluten makes you feel sick, you might want to try a wheat allergy test. Some recommend a "spelt litmus test": Remove all gluten from your diet for a couple of days, then try a food which contains spelt and no other gluten or grain products. If a small amount doesn't make you sick, try a bit more the next day, and then the next. If after a few days you're haven't felt discomfort from the food, then spelt is probably OK for you.
That said, if you feel sick or have an allergic reaction after eating any food, your first stop should be to a doctor.
Homemade Bread Is Easy
Baking can seem daunting at first, but baking a simple bread is actually an easy process: Get the right ingredients in the right proportions, mix them into a dough, let the dough rise, bake, and cool.
Baking bread takes a long time, but 90% is "rising time" during which the yeast does its thing on its own, and you're free to do whatever you want (I'm writing this while chilling outside with my dog, with the bread is rising in the kitchen). This particular recipe requires about 10 minutes of actual work, a total of 2 1/2 hours rising time, and 40 minutes to bake.
But it's sugar-free, has only five ingredients (including water), and in moderation is suitable for people like me, who have type 2 diabetes and a mild wheat allergy.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the recipe.
- Mixing bowl
- 1 cup measure for flour
- Measuring cup with ounces marked for liquids
- 9x5-inch loaf pan
- 1 sheet baking paper
- Oven (I prefer a toaster oven for this recipe)
I mix the dough with my hands, but if you prefer to use a mixer, go for it. This recipe should also work in a bread machine, but I'm not sure because I don't have one.
- 3 cups whole spelt flour
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Approximately 10 ounces warm water
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) oil (I use canola, but any oil that doesn't have a strong taste should work)
- Measure the flour into a mixing bowl.
- Add yeast and mix. There's no need to proof it, but if you do, use 1 tablespoon of flour instead of sugar.
- Add salt.
- Add 8 ounces of warm water and oil. Mix. Add more water, about an ounce at a time, until all of the flour is absorbed and you can knead the dough without it sticking to your hands.
- Knead until smooth, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Let rise in mixing bowl for about 90 minutes.
- Press a sheet of baking paper into the loaf pan, and pat the dough in until it's uniformly distributed.
- Let rise for another 60 minutes. About 10 minutes before the end, preheat oven or toaster oven to 180°C (356°F).
- Bake for 40 minutes. Before baking, trim baking paper if necessary, so it won't touch the heating element and catch fire (I do this when using a toaster oven).
- After baking, remove the bread from the pan and allow it to cool on a wire rack. I prefer to leave the paper in the pan, but it can be removed if you want.
- Best eaten fresh. I slice it when it's cooled and then freeze it. I can defrost what I want a few pieces at a time. This bread will freeze well for a couple of weeks.
That's All, Folks
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 David A Cohen
David A Cohen (author) from Efrat, Israel on October 26, 2019:
Hi James, where I live baking myself is cheaper, but every country or state is different.
James C Moore from The Great Midwest on October 25, 2019:
I guess it comes to that. Gluten is so common that you would need to make your bread. How would this solution affect someone on a budget? I ask because healthy eating of any type taxes a budget.
David A Cohen (author) from Efrat, Israel on October 24, 2019:
Thanks. You can find recipes for gluten free bread and cake using gluten free oat flour and / or gluten free flour substitute. Or try the website of a company that makes the g.f. flour for recipes.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 24, 2019:
It sounds like you have really helped yourself by baking this bread. My brother has celiac disease and it seems he is sick most of the time despite his efforts at being gluten free. This bread is a great ides for the right people but I don't think my brother could handle it unfortunately. I appreciate your very good article.