I recently did a spin on a Syrian classic that I haven’t eaten in at least 16 years. Tete’s cheese bread was always a favorite, and I’d been meaning to try a veganized version for a very long time. I’m sure in the future I’ll try just a plain old vegan cheese bread, but sometimes I want to cook things for my friends – and that includes friends who are gluten free, or grain free, or paleo.
This is a very bare bones recipe considering the original version of cheese bread includes eggs and feta mixed into the shredded cheese. Obviously it is not going to taste the same as Tete’s, but if you have an open mind (and mouth), you will be very happy with this little treat.
I stumbled upon a paleo bread recipe that I haven’t been able to find again, it called for chestnut flour (singoda flour = chestnut flour). Be warned – they sell this stuff on Amazon Prime for $10, but I found the exact same amount from the exact same brand for $2.39 at my local Middle Eastern market.
The flour has a unique flavor, almost sweet, with a hint of anise.
For the dough, I used a very simple recipe (below) for a quick bread that requires no rising.
A store bought vegan nut cheese would be paleo, but super expensive. Plus I don’t know of any with a cheddar-type flavor. I used my homemade coconut milk cheese. Traditionally this would be grated and mixed with feta, onions and egg, and lightly seasoned. In this case, the cheese already is already seasoned. I didn’t bother making a vegan feta, and I skipped the eggs completely. And because the cheese was a bit soft, I didn’t even grate it (usually some time in the freezer makes it grate-able).
Anyway. Divide the dough into balls – 16 to 24 depending on how big you want them. I ended up making mine a little smaller and getting around 20 or so. Flatten the dough balls and press them out until they’re about 1/4″ thick.
Add sliced coconut milk cheese.
Add finely chopped onion. Alternatively, you can do very thin slices of onion.
Now switch to the chrome filter so the cheese bread looks like abstract art from the 60s 🙂
In these last couple pictures, this is an oil-free batch I made, replacing the olive oil with a bit of tahini. I also omitted the almond meal because I am cheap 🙂 It worked and tasted just fine, but the dough is a little sturdier with the almond meal.
Paleo Crust, with oil:
2 C chestnut flour
1/2 C almond meal
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 chia eggs
coconut milk cheese
onions, chopped or sliced.
Preheat oven to 325.
Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and add olive oil and chia eggs. Stir to combine, then mix with hands until dough forms. If it’s too dry, add water just a little at a time.
Divide the dough into 16 to 24 equal pieces, depending on what size you want. Roll each piece into a ball, and place them on a parchment lined baking tray. Flatten each ball, then press them out into dough rounds about 1/4″ thick.
Place a slice of coconut cheese on each round. Top with onions.
Bake cheese bread at 325 for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown around the edges.
For an oil free crust, simply substitute tahini for olive oil. You may also choose to use 2 1/2 C chestnut flour and omit the almond meal. This will result in a stickier dough, but it bakes up just fine.