I gave up bread for Lent, which has been a huge pain in the ass because bread is a major component of pretty much everything I think is delicious. I'm the girl who snags a loaf of warm, fresh-baked french bread from the bakery at the beginning of a shopping trip and ends up throwing a practically empty bag on the check-out belt. I have zero self control, which is why I figured it would be a challenge and sacrifice to give up.
I cut out not only just bread, but also flour tortillas (killing me), biscuits, pancakes, waffles, English muffins, buns of the dog and burger variety, bagels, naan, pita, and all pastries. The upside is that since Ash Wednesday, which was on February 22, I've lost five pounds. The downside, and probably the reason I've lost five pounds, is that it's sometimes hard to find something to eat, especially in a pinch when a sandwich would be handy.
While perusing the web for bread substitutes, I found this recipe for Cloud Bread, which the author described as "...a delicious home-made bread replacement that is practically carb free and very high in protein. They are just like heaven so I call them clouds..." Ingredients? Just four: Eggs, cream cheese, cream of tartar and a packet of artificial sweetener.
WTF? How could anything that even sort of resembles bread come from this?
Out of sheer curiosity and the convenience of having all the ingredients handy, I got crackin' on my very own cloud bread (now nicknamed "mother-effing witchcraft" in my house).
- 3 eggs, separated
- 3 tablespoons of cream cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar
- 1 packet of artificial sweetener
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Separate eggs very carefully. Be sure not to get any yolk in the whites!
- In one bowl, mix together the egg yolks, the cream cheese and packet of sweetener.
- In another bowl, add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar to whites and beat on high until whites are fluffy and form stiff peaks, like you would when making a meringue.
- Carefully fold yolk mixture into egg whites until mixed, but don't break down the fluffiness of the whites.
- Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and with a large spoon, scoop the mixture onto the cookie sheet into about six even rounds about the size of a hamburger bun.
- Bake on middle rack for about half an hour. It might take a few minutes more or a few less, but keep an eye on them until they're a nice, golden-brown color. While they're baking, your kitchen will seriously smell like bread. It's bizarre.
- When done, remove from the cookie sheet and allow to cool.
- When the little rounds are completely cool, seal them in a Ziplock or airtight container overnight. They'll be ready to eat in the morning.
Out of curiosity, you might be tempted to snack on them just out of the oven, but try to hold off until the next morning. While they're a little crumbly when warm, a little like meringue, they completely change texture overnight. They get soft, fluffy, and much more bread-like. After a day, store in the fridge and before you're ready to eat, let them sit out for a while to get to room temperature.
No, it's not bread, and wouldn't pass for it in a taste-test, but it's a pretty good little substitute if you're trying to avoid the white, processed stuff. I don't think they're quite sturdy enough to use in place of a hamburger bun, but go for it if you're feeling experimental and wouldn't mind dirty fingers. So far, my favorite way to eat them is with a little strawberry preserves on top for breakfast but I'd like to mix it up a bit, maybe throw some cayenne or other spices in there and see how they turn out.
Would you give this flourless cloud bread recipe a shot, or do you think it just sounds weird? Did you give anything up anything for Lent? If so, how's it going? Are you sticking with it or allowing yourself a "cheat" day? Let us know in the comments section.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.