Since last Fall my poor kiddo's food allergies have sent me from a feeling of relative balance and well controlled risk to an unpleasant roller coaster ride of vertigo and fear. After years of well identified allergens and gradually lowering IgE scores, he has had a series of mystery reactions and white knuckle oral challenges. Trying to figure out whether a reaction is caused by cross contamination from a previously known food allergy or if he has, heaven forbid, developed a new one, is stressful beyond words. Except for the occasional cry for help over on Facebook, I haven't really blogged about these changes.
The last and least of these reactions was my final straw. We were almost to the end of the school year, when one day at lunch in the cafeteria, The Kid complained about his throat hurting. The feeling of tightening in his throat is usually the first and most consistent of my son's symptoms when he starts careening into anaphylaxis, so the staff hustled him off to the nurse's office, which was when I got the dreaded phone call at work. They gave him Benadryl and sent him back to class, but that was when my detective work began yet again.
|Image found on Facebook, would love to know who created it!|
The only thing in his lunchbox that was different that day was a newly opened loaf of bread. We have used Publix store brand bread, usually the whole wheat loaves, for years without a single problem. I called Publix customer service, they took a message and contacted the company that makes their bread. The call I received back directly from the bakery in Orlando confirmed that none of his known allergens were in the bread, and the nice gentleman on the phone then told me that no other products containing them went through the same line, but there was one type of bread that had butter as an ingredient.
I verified that the list they had been given included milk. Then, as diplomatically as I could manage, I asked if he realized that butter was made out of milk. The nice gentleman said "Wait, my information doesn't seem right. Let me call you back."
The next phone call confirmed that butter was indeed an ingredient in one of their other products, but that they used excellent industrial cleaning practices, so my son shouldn't have a problem. I replied that he hadn't for years, but that he really was sensitive to specific food proteins, and all it took was one mistake, as shown by the reaction he had just had.
Then the conversation took a bizarre turn, when the nice gentleman went on to tell me how his operations manager, who was extremely knowledgeable, had told him that in his extensive experience, butter was not as likely to cause an allergic reaction as milk was.
I'll stop there for just a minute. I don't remember exactly what I said at that point, but I'm very proud of myself for not asking exactly where the manager had received his medical training and whether or not he was board certified in allergy and immunology.
I put in a request that the company please consider labeling their breads as having been manufactured on equipment that was also used for products containing milk, then went on to try to figure out what on earth I was going to do about making sure that my kiddo had bread that was safe for him to eat.
Since nothing readily available locally seems to be safe for him anymore, I let my inner control freak out and decided that I was going to make all of our family's bread from now on. That's when the feeling of hopelessness and insane jealousy of stay at home moms kicked in.
Don't get me wrong, I love to bake. It's a hobby that I truly enjoy. But cookie and cake experiments and baking for special occasions are profoundly different than having to consistently produce sandwich quality loaves week after week without the option of grabbing a package at the store.
I received some good advice about bread machines on Facebook, but so far have stuck to my reliable Kitchenaid Stand Mixer with a dough hook. After trying several different bread recipes (and having my whole grain loaves rejected by an ungrateful child), I've finally adapted one from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion into a bread recipe that makes all of us happy. (There's an almost identical version of the original recipe on the King Arthur website.)
Honey Oat Bread
Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion
(Click for printable version.)
1 C rolled oats
⅓ C honey
4 Tbs non-dairy margarine or neutral vegetable oil, such as canola
1 Tbs kosher salt (2 tsp if using non-kosher)
2 1/4 C boiling water
1 Tbs (or 2 packets) active dry yeast
1 ½ C white whole wheat flour
4 C all-purpose flour
neutral oil or shortening to grease bowl and pans
Stir yeast into oat mixture. Whisk flours together in a separate bowl, then stir into liquids. Once a dough forms, use dough hook of stand mixer to knead for 5 to 7 minutes. (King Arthur says 10 minutes by hand.) Pour a little oil into a large mixing bowl. Form a ball with the dough, then roll it around in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until doubled, about one hour.
One note about the stand mixer: mine is the 5 quart Kitchenaid, and the two loaves' worth of dough is almost more than it can handle. If you have the smaller 4.5 quart model (or another brand of smaller size) it may be more dough than the machine can manage.
Grease two 4 ½ by 8 ½ loaf pans. Divide the dough in half and shape into two loaves. Gently press the loaves into the pans, then cover again with plastic wrap. (The wrap from the bowl can be reused over both pans if large enough.) Let the loaves rise for another hour until the dough is above the top of the pan by about an inch.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the loaves on a middle rack and bake for 35 minutes. After removing bread from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack as soon as they can be handled. Try to wait until they are cool to cut into them, but really, who can resist bread hot from the oven?
This week I have a question for those of you who read my little blog. There are a number of you from outside the United States, and I was wondering if it would be helpful for me to include metric measurements on my recipes? Thanks for taking the time to let me know!
Update: I have corrected the amount of water called for in the recipe. Apologies for any too wet loaves!
Second Update: Discovered loaves were too wet because I accidentally switched to quick oats instead of traditional rolled oats! The original quantity of water was correct and has been reinstated.
Finally, I'm sharing my irresistible loaves with:
- Allergy Friendly Lunchbox Love at Allergy-Free Vintage Cookery and
- Allergy Free Wednesdays at The Tasty Alternative,
- What's Cooking Wednesday at Turning Back the Clock and
- Wonderful Wednesday at Sweet to Eat Baking.