Let’s talk Gluten Free Bread. One of the most challenging foods in the life of someone living gluten free is a simple loaf of bread. I am still in the “laboratory stage” of baking a loaf, and that isn’t to say I haven’t tried. If you’ve read the various intro’s to my recipes, you know baking is not my forte’. I love to cook….but baking has always felt too precise, too confining, and too tedious for my ‘spinning’ ways. Cooking, in my opinion, allows for creativity and dashes of this and that until a perfectly
This is a picture of my very first loaf of gluten free bread that I baked from scratch, and I was so proud, I even saved the date…January 16th, 2010. It’s beautiful, right? As you can see, the very end of the loaf has been sliced to show the beautiful airy inside. But what you can’t see is that I hadn’t tasted it yet! Oh, my…the elation I had felt minutes prior while shooting images of my masterpiece was soon replaced with frustration and defeat. There wasn’t much flavor and the texture was weird…it wasn’t the soft, airy, chewy texture we all love in fresh baked bread, instead it was spongy and gummy. As for shelf life, the very next day I had a pile of bread crumbs instead of a slice…even while slicing with a serrated knife. Unfortunately, into the trash it went.
So back to the drawing board. This time, I wasn’t going to spend another 4 hours baking bread, nor was I willing to spend the money on seven different flours. So back to my laptop I went with my dear friend, Dr. Google, where I spent hours searching various celiac sites and gluten free blogs with suggested tips and guidelines to bake gluten free bread. I learned about various flours and their flavor properties, I learned about stabilizers, thickening and leavening agents, whether to use the whole egg or just egg whites, and I learned about “batter” consistency and how it differs from glutenous bread which is a “dough”.
I came upon a blog that listed a recipe from the celiac site DelphiForums Celiac Group where she used a baking sheet pan for her bread instead of a traditional loaf pan, eliminating the kneading and rising required in a traditional loaf of bread. If you’ve yet to bake a loaf of gluten free bread, it’s good to know the batter is thin and sticky, and difficult to work with. I made the suggested recipe, and even though the method of baking it was very good, I didn’t care for the taste of the bread. So, staying true to my name, I spun the spice wheel and changed the flour, added herbs and spices for more flavor, and used olive oil on the pan to give it flavor and crisp edges. Success! My Focaccia Bread was delicious.
This was sure to be my new-found bread of choice and it was much easier than the previous. One of the wonderful things about this bread (besides the flavor and ease), is that it stores well. I left it on the baking sheet for several hours before storing the wrap-sized slices in a zip lock bag, only zipping 3/4 closed. The next day I stored it in the refrigerator for two more days and it was still very good.
A few weeks later I learned of a gluten free bread by Udi’s in Denver, CO that was getting rave reviews. I searched their website and found a store in my area that carried it, and within minutes I was headed down the road to purchase my first loaf. That was hands-down the best find so far in living gluten free. This bread is airy, fresh, and delicious right out of the bag (unlike most that have to be toasted to be edible), and it comes in two choices, either white sandwich bread or multigrain. I can’t tell you how excited I was to have a sandwich! I use it toasted for burgers, grilled for sandwiches, ground for bread crumbs, and the list goes on. I should be a spokesperson for Udi’s, as I love it that much. The only drawback with Udi’s is that it’s a very small loaf (12 oz) for $5.99 and is found in the freezer section being it’s shipped from Denver. It does thaw quickly and beautifully, however it’s just not the same as picking up a fresh loaf of baked bread.
As happy as I was with my new find, I still had a secret mission to bake a full, fluffy, airy loaf of regular bread that fills the house with tempting aromas. I even have fantasies of producing a loaf of Ciabatta Bread, or two-foot long crusty loaves of French Bread, or even a billowing loaf of Brioche! Oh the wonder. So back to Dr. Google I went. This time I learned about bread machines making incredible loaves of gluten free bread, and the most talked about was the Zojirushi BBCC-X20. I pleaded my case to my husband for why I needed a $215 bread machine and five days later it landed on my doorstep.
This is the 4th loaf of bread made in my new Zo machine, and I used Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Mix. The prior three loaves were from scratch and even though I used variations of suggested recipes from gluten free sites, they weren’t very good. This was the prettiest of the four loaves and the taste was fairly good, so kudos to Pamela’s once again. But the consistency of the bread leaves room for improvement as it had a hint of that weird gummy texture again. Maybe I’m overly picky when it comes to gluten free bread, I just think it’s possible to create a really good loaf since I’ve had luck re-creating most of my other recipes in all other food categories.
My next attempt will be a recipe I discovered on Teri Gruss’s Forum site at about.com that claims to be the recipe for Udi’s breads. She also has great tips for baking bread and I’ll be sure to tap them for hopeful success. It’s here that I’ll end my post on The Art of Gluten Free Bread with my pledge to continue baking bread until I succeed in making a delicious loaf. So the next time I post a loaf of gluten free bread, you’ll know I have a winning recipe! If you think you have the perfect gluten free bread recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Happy Baking.