Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Buckwheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread (gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, xanthan gum-free)

Today I wanted to share a recipe from my Nourishing Meals cookbook with you—another kneadable gluten-free bread! Creating a recipe for kneadable gluten-free (and xanthan gum-free) bread took me years and years to develop.

I still remember walking into my oldest daughter’s first week of preschool. The smell of freshly baked spelt rolls wafting throughout the house like a sweet perfume pervades my memory. My daughter took great care in carefully kneading each ball of dough into the shapes of her desire. The warm rolls were always served with raw honey and butter. All week she looked forward to bread day.

A few years later my second daughter was entering preschool. We found out she was sensitive to gluten during her toddler years, so she could not participate in the process of bread baking in preschool or kindergarten. I was at a loss for what to do. Yes, I was able to replace the gluten with gluten-free options, but none she could knead. None where she could be part of the process of grinding the grain into flour. None that connected her to the meaningful work that the whole process of bread baking imbued.

Inspired by the very real fact that my daughter could not participate in the entire experience of bread baking, I started down a path that was years in the making. I was almost there in the spring of 2010 when I posted this gluten-free baguette and Garlic-Rosemary White Bean Dip. I had been using chia and flax already for a while to help mimic the texture of gluten, but something was still missing. Still determined to create a kneadable gluten-free bread without xanthan gum, I had a flash of inspiration one day. What would happen if I added psyllium husk to the mix? I already knew how it worked to absorb liquid and create a gel, and so I had a pretty good feeling that it might help to mimic gluten in baking recipes. And that was it. I had finally cracked the gluten-free bread code! I eventually shared my Farmhouse Seed Bread recipe here with you in 2011. After many failures and triumphs (and partially edible loaves of gluten-free bread), I finally created a recipe that actually needs to be kneaded—a delicious, chewy round loaf of bread made from whole food ingredients! That recipe eventually morphed into many more gluten-free bread recipes using the basic framework I had developed, including this Buckwheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread and more, which can all be found in my Nourishing Meals book.

Years later, my twin boys entered kindergarten. By then there were so many children who were sensitive to gluten that the class was designated a gluten-free classroom, and their teacher only used my recipes for bread baking day. They ground their own buckwheat flour using a hand crank grinder. Different combinations of teff flour, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, and arrowroot powder were used to form the dough. My boys would come home with rolls that they had carefully crafted into different shapes, tucked inside of little napkins. “Mom do you want to try my bread?” they called out to me after pick-up. Smiling, I said "yes."

Baking gluten-free bread is quite simple, though it requires a few extra ingredients compared to wheat-based bread recipes. To replace the gluten—the protein that gives bread it’s chewy texture and what helps it to rise by allowing gas bubbles to get trapped—I use a combination of ground chia seeds and psyllium husk. These ingredients form a gel that acts like gluten, allowing gas bubbles from the yeast fermentation to get trapped so the dough can rise. They also help to hold moisture and bind everything together.

Any gluten-free flour or blend of flours can be used in this recipe, but by using raw buckwheat groats, which can be ground into a soft flour using a hand or electric grain grinder, children get to experience the whole process of bread making, from grain to loaf—connecting head, heart, and hands.

Buckwheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread or Rolls

Contrary to its name, buckwheat has no relation to wheat. It’s actually not even a grain, but rather a grain-like seed of a plant related to rhubarb and sorrel. Be sure to purchase the raw groats, not the roasted variety. This is very important, as roasted buckwheat flour (the kind you can buy in the store) will NOT work in this recipe as the two behave very differently in baking. Raw buckwheat flour also has a very mild flavor compared to the traditional roasted buckwheat flour you typically find in the store.

It is also important to purchase buckwheat that is certified gluten-free as some brands may be contaminated with wheat berries from growing, harvesting, or storage. Bob's Red Mill buckwheat groats are gluten-free and organic. Grind the buckwheat groats in a hand grinder (that has never been used for wheat), a coffee grinder, or a high-powered blender such as a Vitamix (this is what I use). Chia seeds can be ground to a fine meal in either a coffee grinder or high-powered blender as well. Serve rolls with honey and butter (or coconut butter for a dairy-free option). This recipe can also be found on page 120 of my Nourishing Meals cookbook.

Wet Ingredients:
2 ½ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon maple syrup or organic cane sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
4 tablespoons maple syrup
⅓ cup ground chia seeds
⅓ cup psyllium husks

Dry Ingredients:
3 ½ to 4 cups freshly ground buckwheat flour
½ cup arrowroot powder
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
½ to 1 cup raisins

Place the warm water in a bowl or 4-cup liquid glass measure. Add the yeast and the teaspoon of maple syrup or sugar, whisk together. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast. The mixture should get foamy or bubbly. If not, dump it out and start over.

While the yeast is activating, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl (start with 3 ½ cups of the buckwheat flour).

After the yeast is activated whisk in the olive oil or butter, maple syrup, ground chia seeds, and psyllium husks into the water-yeast mixture. Let stand for no more than a minute or two to let the chia and psyllium release their gelatinous substances. Whisk again. If you let the mixture rest too long, you run the risk of it absorbing too much liquid.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a large wooden spoon until thick. Turn dough out onto a floured wooden board. Add more buckwheat flour, a little at a time, until the dough holds together and isn’t too sticky.

For a round loaf, form dough into a ball and place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Score the dough in a cross pattern to help control how the bread expands while baking later. You can also form the dough into a log and place into an oiled 9x5-inch glass bread dish. To make rolls, form dough into twelve equal-sized balls. This is the time to let children each knead and shape their own ball of dough. Place the balls into two oiled 9-inch pie plates. Cover with a damp towel and place into a warm spot to rise. Let dough rise for 45 to 60 minutes. Rising time will depend on the temperature of the environment around the dough.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake bread for 55 to 60 minutes. Bake rolls for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes and then serve.

Yield: 1 loaf of bread or 1 dozen rolls

More Raw Buckwheat Flour Recipes:
Yeast-Free Buckwheat Pizza Crust (vegan)
Yeast-Free Cinnamon Rolls (vegan)
Buckwheat Carrot Raisin Muffins (vegan)

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. Buckwheat, arrowroot, and psyllium husks is my go-to for all bread products. It really works well!

    1. I love these ingredients too. So wonderful to work with. :)

  2. wow ... sounds wonderful! I wonder if there could be a yeast-free option.

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Hmm....you could try adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the dry ingredients and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the wet in order to replace the yeast. I have not tried it on this recipe though. Let me know if you do! :)


  3. Hi, I would love to make this recipe! I can only use Spelt flour, is it possible to use that instead of Buckwheat? Thanks!

    1. Hi Julie,

      I would just search for a cinnamon-raisin-spelt flour recipe. You couldn't just swap out flours as I designed this bread to work with gluten-free flours. You would not need the chia or psyllium in a gluten-based bread, as spelt is wheat and contains gluten.

      -Ali :)

  4. I've never used ground chia seeds. Can I just grind my whole seeds in my food processor?

  5. I've never used ground chia seeds. Can I just grind my whole seeds in a food processor?

  6. Just bought your new cookbook and can't wait to try all these great recipes . I especially appreciate your avoidance of garbanzo bean flour as my husband is allergic to legumes


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