Saturday, February 12, 2011
Successful Gluten Free Bread
Ms. Roberts recommends the following tools for baking success: Light colored bread pans (not dark non-stick pans), an oven thermometer, and an instant read thermometer. I was very surprised to learn my oven is 50 degrees too cool!
I've also been experimenting with bread mixes. Be it homemade or from a mix...here are my criteria for a successful loaf of GF bread:
1. Accurate nutrition labeling, showing values for both the dry mix and as prepared.
2. Includes whole grains for fiber.
3. Tastes good fresh from the oven and still tastes good after freezing and thawing.
4. Can be eaten at room temperature without toasting or microwaving.
5. Directions should be complete, with consistent results.
6. Should not collapse in on itself while cooling.
7. Should not cost an arm and a leg.
Number 4 is most important because there are times when you want to participate in a social event, but there's nothing there you can eat. I try to either bring a GF item to share, or bring a sandwich along. In a situation like this, the bread has to stand on its own with no grilling, toasting or microwaving.
I've tried 4 GF bread mixes to date:
Gluten Free Pantry Sandwich Loaf - $4.89 for the mix plus eggs, oil or butter, milk or water. Main ingredients are white rice flour and brown rice flour. Fiber is less than 1 gram/slice. Directions are poor. If you bake as directed (just 30-40 minutes), it will be undercooked in the center. On the upside - it tastes great and passes the room temperature test with flying colors. On the front of the box, it says its a cholesterol free food - but the directions call for 2 eggs. They don't list the nutrients for the prepared product, so the cholesterol-free statement is very misleading. I'm opposed to this line of GF products because of the deceptive labeling.
Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix - $4.49 for the mix, plus eggs, oil or butter, milk or water. Primary ingredients are garbanzo bean flour and potato starch. This mix calls for one whole egg and enough egg whites to make 3/4 cup - about 5 large eggs. Separating four eggs negates the convenience of a mix for me. Fiber is 3 gm/slice. Baking directions are accurate. It freezes and thaws well. It makes a bigger loaf (9 x 5") than the other brands, so it lasts longer. Tastes a little like navy bean soup though. Its better if you add some honey.
Pamela's Gluten Free Bread Mix - $4.49, plus other ingredients. Primary ingredients are sorghum flour and tapioca flour. Fiber is 3 gm/slice. It passes the room temperature test, and has a good flavor. In fact, I know a woman who buys Pamela's by the case from the Internet. This mix makes a moist product that is nutritious and economical.
King Arthur's Gluten Free Bread Mix - I had such high hopes for this new product. The first problem is the price: $7.99 just for the mix. Of course, you add other ingredients (as with the other brands). But I scanned the baking directions and decided to try it despite the sticker shock. One thing I really like about this product is that there are two risings, so you get a better texture. It's reassuring if you've spent a lifetime punching down your dough to let the air out. They also tell you how to get a good looking loaf top, by wetting two fingers and smoothing out the top after you pour it into the pan. Fiber is less than 1 gram. Nutrition labeling shows nutrients for mix alone, and as prepared. Primary ingrediets are white rice and tapioca starch. Flavor and satiety are a big dissappointment. The white rice flavor is unmistakable.
Frozen bread products I've tried are: Udi's bread, Kinnikinnic bagels, Ener-G Rice Bread and Kinnikinnic Many Wonder Multigrain Rice Bread. None of these pass the room temperature test. Ener-G tasted like chemicals, so I tossed the whole loaf. The KK bagels tasted fine but the texture was nothing like a regular bagel. These bagels were toasted, cubed and turned into bread pudding. Udi's bread is OK for a grilled sandwich. The Many Wonder bread is supposed to be like rye bread. Its also OK for grilling.
And so, my quest for the perfect GF loaf continues. I'm learning with each experiment, and will share more results in the future. :)