Thursday, October 2, 2008


This post is all about wheat and gluten and how much I love them and how sometimes when you love something too much, it can be unhealthy, and you have to let them go. Or, take a relationship break, ya' know a "trial separation."

I'm trying to do that. After suffering with extreme muscle pain and knots for the last 18 years (fibromyalgia), it's suddenly occurred to me that I could have a wheat or gluten intolerance. So me and wheat/gluten are taking a little break, and I'm gonna get my blood tested too, just to be sure. Because, just as much as I love pizza, parathas, roux, pasta, cakes & cookies and seitan, it's not worth it, if this is my ticket to a more pain-free existence.

Look what showed up in the fridge this morning! A super-wheatastic cream cheeze cinnamon roll!

However, since I'm still feeling the wheaty love, and as part of my purging process, I want to share my current favorite recipe (the metaphor I'm thinking of here involves a synthetic feather and chometz). If you remember in the brown roux post, I am working on a shit-ton of vegan New Orleans/Louisiana recipes. It's pretty slow-going, but I am really happy with the few recipes that have evolved so far. In my eyes, the most successful has been a new seitan/gluten recipe. Thanks to Julie Hasson's amazing seitan steaming technique, I think I've come up with something really special. In my quest, I wanted to make gluten that was tender like the "Kale Bone" I've eaten at Soul Vegetarian in Atlanta, but had a more rounded flavor than most of the seitan recipes I've tried. I figured if I could improve on the umami characteristic in the gluten, that would be the way to get more of the complex flavor undertones I wanted--that's when I thought caramelized onions might be the way to go. Anyway, not to get too chest puffy, but I think this is the best seitan ever, if you try it, please let me know what you think.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:
*this yields a 3 pound loaf, so you need a really big pot.
*don't half the recipe, one of the reasons the texture is so good is that it is steamed as a thick loaf.
*the seitan may seem underdone, especially if you compare it to other seitan recipes--let it come to room temp, or better yet, chill it in the fridge overnight (besides, most seitan recipes call for additional cooking, so if you're freaked out that yours is still jiggly)--take that.
*it slices thin, is tender and is the perfect consistency to stuff.
*it holds up to browning and long low heat simmering, without toughening.
*it freezes well.
*this stuff is amazing if you slice it in 3/4" rounds then dip it in a combo of non-dairy milk, lots of lemon juice and tabasco and then dredge it through a combo of whole wheat panko, ground cashews and nutritional yeast--brown it up in a pan and serve it with wilted spinach on top. yes.

seitan, recipe, gluten, vegan, kittee
ginormous loaf

seitan, recipe, gluten, vegan, kittee
rectangular prisms

Basic Gluten Log
Makes one 9" loaf, approximately 3 pounds
  • 4 cups finely chopped red onion, about 2 medium (yellow onions can be used, but the color will be a little lighter)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted Creole seasoning
  • 1/4 cup ketchup or prepared bbq sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup chickpea flour (besan or gram flour)
1. Caramelize the onions in a small uncovered sauce pan with the olive oil and salt over medium low heat for thirty minutes. Stir every 4-5 minutes to make sure they don't burn (they should develop a light caramel color and turn into an almost paste-like texture).
2. When the onions are just about done, sprinkle in the thyme, paprika and Creole seasoning. Cook until the thyme is effervescent-- 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Place the onions, ketchup/bbq sauce, soy sauce and water into a blender or food processor and blend until almost smooth.
4. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups vital wheat gluten, nutritional yeast and chickpea flour (sift the chickpea flour if lumpy).
5. Pour in the onion puree and mix with a large spoon until combined. Sprinkle in the extra 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten and mix until all of the flour is absorbed.
6. Place the mass of gluten onto a big sheet of tin foil and form it into a log Tootsie Roll style that is about 8 1/2" long with a diameter of 3 1/2 inches. Wrap the log in another piece of tin foil (going the other direction) to make it very secure.
7. Steam in a large pot over boiling water for 1 hour, turn over with tongs halfway through.
8. Let rest until until loaf has reached room temperature, but the texture is best refrigerated over night to fully chill. Can be frozen for later use.

Note: You can jerry-rig a big steamer pretty easily. Get a big stock pot and put in a few shot glasses. Fill with water just to the top of the glasses and top with a heat-proof plate. Place the gluten log on the plate and cover the pot to steam.



  1. Compared to giving up animal products, giving up wheat would be incredibly difficult for me! I hope it works out well for you and your pain subsides. Thanks, though, for posting this seitan recipe - it looks fabulous!

  2. Good luck on finding something to help with the pain, whether gluten avoidance or otherwise. That's tough.

    And... having made that seitan, I can testify: It is fantastic!

  3. kittee,
    I still haven't made this gluten loaf, but I've had it on my list for weeeeeeeks. Your rave review will push me over the edge.

    I'll hope for you that you find some relief from your pain- even if it does mean less or no gluten. good luck!


  4. Despite finding a place to buy bulk vital wheat gluten in NYC, I haven't made seitan in forever. Your recipe is telling me it's time. Glad to know it freezes well--I will have seitan to last until armageddon!

    Good luck with your trial separation. A while ago, I tried to cut back on my wheat intake, in an attempt to eat more balanced, vegetable-centric food. Hopefully you can find some pain-relief, whether if be through giving up wheat or in some other way.

  5. Sounds like a good recipe - I like the addition of besam flour. I've added about the same ratio of AP flour when I've wanted a more tender gluten - something closer to the "by hand" method of rinsing flour.

    Hope you're better.

  6. Good luck on the trial separation, you really do get used to not having wheat/gluten and realised life is just as fun :) Kitteh xox

  7. Ugh. Sorry about your gluten trial separation. Chocolate and I had one of those but now we're back together and madly in love :)

    I want to be a mini-person and dive in the center of that cinnamon roll and eat it!

  8. that cream cheeze cinnamon roll is amazing looking!

  9. The seitan recipe sound marvelous! I wish you all the luck in the world finding a way to help with your pain. As hard as it would be for me to give up seitan I'd give it up if it made me more comfortable.

  10. Mmm that seitan looks and sounds incredible! Definitely adding it to my to make soon list!

    Good luck with going gluten free. I hope you find the relief you are looking for. Bad health sucks (yes, that sounds totally juvenile :P)

  11. Since this is the best freaking seitan recipe on the planet all I can say is woo hoo! Each time I make it it just gets better and better.
    I'm sorry you think it's the wheat/gluten, I hope you can get things figured out fast!

  12. I might have to give up wheat too! Or at least significantly cut back. I'm having a hard time coming to terms with it - sigh. I hope you'll post some good wheat-free vegan recipes.


  13. hey, i know how it feels to have to take a break from something you love...i thought i was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. i was tested at the allergist a few weeks ago and don't have an allergy, but have an intolerance. soooo, i can eat as much as i want as long as i'm willing to live with the consequence (mouth ulcers) from eating yummy peanut butter. thanks for the seitan recipe!

  14. Haha, I just went on a seitan quest (not realizing you did the same last MoFo). I'd love to try yours, but it's way too big, so I will just pout and drool over your pictures/

  15. Sounds like a seitan recipe I'd like to try.

  16. Hey doll, think you it might help your transition to try spelt in place of wheat products?

    I started cutting back wheat last year on the suspicion that too much of it makes me (instantly and bulbously) bloaty, and it seems to be right on the money. Spelt has a weaker gluten structure than wheat which makes it easier to absorb. I don't find the taste so different from wheat, either. The only prob is that it's less readily available and spelt products can be overpriced.

  17. Hi! I found you through "Musing from The Fishbowl". This seitan recipe looks great ... can't wait to try it. Thanks for posting such recipes!

    Small Footprints

  18. Kittee - your seitan log makes me happy inside and out. I love this recipe. I still plan on trying some spicy variation when time permits. I hope it isn't the wheat making you hurt, even more I hope you find out what it is. I am battling similar issues. Good luck!

  19. made it this weekend, it's super good, thanks! came out a little sweet tho, interesting!

  20. hey veganloveburger,
    i'm wondering if you used a ketchup or bbq sauce that was overly sweet? i've only made it with hfs brands, and although the onions have a sweet quality, i've never made a loaf that came out tasting sweet. i'm interested to hear what ingredients you used.


  21. I love caramelized onions in seitan. A while back, my roommate randomly decided to add onions to seitan along with a couple drops of liquid smoke and it has exactly like ham. I will have to try your recipe though - it looks delicious. Awesome blog by the way. I like how it's all green. Makes me think of happy frogs.

  22. You know I love love love this seitan! I made it again on Thursday with Golden Gravy & roasted Brussels! L-O-V-E!

  23. Oh I finally tried this seitan - I am so SO glad I did. It ROCKS!!! You can check it out on my blog :

    Thanks so much for sharing this with us!!! I am so sorry that you are having trouble with gluten after developing such awesomeness. I hope you can sort it out.

  24. I love cinamon rolls,they are delicious. The gkuten loaf is also delightful. I am going to make them for sure. thanks for the recipe.

  25. I'm steaming this now. Can't wait to try it, will certainly comment back when I have it on my plate (and in my belly!). I typically make my favorite seitan in a crock pot a la Bryanna Clark Grogan, but have been wanting to try the steamed version. Thanks for posting this one, it sounds delicious!

  26. Well, I made it, but I feel like I did something wrong. Your pic looks so moist, so plump and juicy. Mine? Duh-ry! My foil did explode at some point in the last thirty minutes. I wrapped it up tight two ways, but it still busted loose.

    Other than that, when combinging the wet and dry ingredients, my dough was reeeeeally dry and crumbly, not at all as wet as I'm used to when making seitan so I added water until I thought the consistancy was better, but by then the whole thing wasn't very evenly mixed. I attributed this to the fact that while i used two really nice sized onions, I highly doubt they yielded four cups of onions once diced, came up with two tops tho i didn't measure. I probably added almost a cup of water but wonder if another would have helped.

    any thoughts? i so wanted this to work out but it just didn't. boo!
    (did i mention how scrumptious yours looks, tho? ;)

  27. i LOVE this recipe! I do change it up a bit though. Instead of blending the onion, I leave it in there in little pieces. I've added pre-cooked soy beans too, that was awesome. I also never have the right spices, so just put whatever you want to put in, and it tastes great! I've never used the chickpea flour, but whole wheat works fine.
    It's definitely better after it's cold, and much better the next day (in terms of consistency, flavor is always amazing.)


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