Gluten-free bread that tastes good

Nearly two years ago I discovered that my body was not tolerating wheat protein, dairy and egg – among other things. While I could imagine (barely) living without most of the other foods, I was devastated about losing BREAD! Sandwiches have always been my easy go-to food when I “didn’t have time” to cook.

So the first month or two of eating wheat-free was exceedingly difficult. I purchased gluten-free breads at the store that tasted marginally better than styrofoam. My apologies to the companies that make these breads – it is awesome that they are getting edible gluten-free products into the mainstream grocery stores – but they really don’t taste very good!

After several failed attempts to bake my own bread completely from scratch, I settled on using a mix, as you will see below. This is because gluten-free bread is an art AND a science. Bread is glutinous. Glutens react to yeast and heat in an extraordinarily beautiful way. In order to create something resembling bread but without the gluten, we almost have to fight the natural properties of the materials we’re working with. I found that the fewer elements in the equation – the fewer items that could go incrementally awry, the more consistently EXCELLENT my result. So I use a mix. For those of you who are artists/scientists, check out the fantastic GF blogs that help bakers excel. These are worth checking out for the variety of other non-bread recipes, as well as tips, moral support, and frequent humor.

Before reading my tips, please consider these three main reasons not to be afraid of baking your own GF bread:

  1. It is rather like baking muffins – no kneading!
  2. It freezes quite well, so you can bake half as often.
  3. You can’t buy ANYthing in the store that comes close to the taste and consistency of home-baked GF bread!

With the WHY out of the way, here are my top four tips for HOW to bake your own GF bread:

  1. Use a mix – After more than a dozen hit-or-miss attempts to bake GF bread from scratch (my cupboards are stuffed with a wide variety of bean, rice, and tapioca flours now…) I discovered that using a prepared mix is far easier for me. Pamela’s and Uncle Bob’s are my personal favorite bread mixes. Be sure you are using their BREAD mix – they both have many other GF mixes and flour blends.
  2. Use the microwave to help it rise – This tip came from another blogger, and I can no longer find its origin, but it is brilliant. GF dough needs help rising, and falls very easily. It rises best in a damp, warm environment. Here is how you do it:
    • Heat a wet kitchen towel in the microwave for one minute.
    • Place the bread pan in the microwave, positioning the towel around 2-3 sides of the base of the pan.
    • Set kitchen timer for 20 minutes.
    • After 20 minutes, repeat this process – twice. After 60 minutes in the moist microwave, your loaf should have a nice rise. GENTLY move the risen bread to the pre-heated oven for baking.
  3. biscuitsTry biscuits – This GF drop biscuit recipe is one of the staples on my Pinterest “treats” board. It uses Pamela’s Baking and Pancake mix. You won’t BELIEVE how quick and easy they are: 15 minutes and they’re out of the oven! The downside: they’re not an option if you are dairy intolerant. However, if you can handle the dairy, go for it!
  4. Toast it – GF bread is absolutely delicious straight out of the oven – hard to tell the difference from regular bread. Cold, however, it can be a little stiff and flavorless. For best results, toast your GF bread before eating it, and it will be just like fresh-baked.
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